Tag Archives: Confederate States of America

Put Confederates in museums, and study what they did

I suppose it’s time to make a decision on what I think we should do with these Confederates statues scattered around many of our states.

Put ’em in museums. Make displays of them and then explain to visitors who these men were, what they did and tell the world about the consequences of their actions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott weighed in this week on the subject in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., mayhem that left a young woman and two Virginia state troopers dead. The pro-Nazi/white supremacist/Klan march prompted a counter protest that turned violent.

And for what? Because the hate groups sought to protest the removal of a statue from a public park of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general who led the army that fought against the United States of America.

According to the Texas Tribune  — “Racist and hate-filled violence – in any form — is never acceptable, and as Governor I have acted to quell it,” Abbott said in the statement. “My goal as governor is to eliminate the racist and hate-filled environment we are seeing in our country today.”

“But we must remember that our history isn’t perfect,” Abbott added. “If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Instead of trying to bury our past, we must learn from it and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future. As Governor, I will advance that future through peace, not violence, and I will do all I can to keep our citizens safe.”

Those are noble words and sentiments. I am not going to go the distance on these monuments. I share Gov. Abbott’s view that they shouldn’t be torn down and destroyed. But I also share the view of those who wonder why we “honor” individuals who turned on the Republic, ignited a bloody Civil War and fought to preserve “states’ rights” to enslave human beings.

These traitors to the nation don’t deserve to be honored with parks and structures that carry their names. They don’t deserve to have statues displayed in public places frequented by Americans who are direct descendants of those who had been kept in bondage.

I rather would see these monuments relocated as museum pieces accompanied by narratives that explain who they are and the role they played in that terrible, dark chapter in our otherwise glorious national story.

The governor said removing the statues “won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future.”

It shouldn’t erase the past, governor. As for the future, well, we advance it by keeping the egregious errors of our past in full view and presenting it in complete context to ensure we don’t repeat them.

Violence erupts in a city known for knowledge

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia and a community associated with one of our greatest Americans, our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Donald J. Trump has condemned the violence that has erupted there, as he should have done. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” the president said via Twitter. Exactly, Mr. President.

White nationalists, some of them wearing Ku Klux Klan garb, are protesting the removal of a Confederate statue. Their presence has prompted counter protests; thus, the clash that is threatening to blow the community apart.

I keep noticing something about the white nationalists marching through Charlottesville. It’s the presence of the Stars and Bars, the flag generally associated with the Confederate States of America, which seceded from the Union in 1861 and commenced the Civil War.

We’ve been debating for the past 150 or so years about the reason for the Civil War. Was it about slavery? About race? Was it about states’ rights? Or southern “heritage”?

Defenders of the Confederacy keep suggesting the Civil War wasn’t about race, or about slavery. They point to the “heritage” issue as the linchpin issue, and that the states didn’t want the federal government dictating to them how to run their internal affairs.

OK. If that’s the case, why do these white nationalists keep marching under the Stars and Bars? What does the presence of the Confederate symbol mean in that context?

For that matter, I should note, too, that one sees that symbol displayed with great “pride” at KKK rallies. Someone will have to explain to me the juxtaposition of the Stars and Bars and the KKK/white nationalists.

I’m all ears. You may now have the floor.

Should this statue come down?

Amarillo, Texas, isn’t known as a hotbed of social or political activism.

Folks are fairly laid back. They’re friendly. They go about their business. They talk to each other a lot about the weather, which keeps residents on their toes, given its volatility.

I want to bring up an issue that likely isn’t on the top of most Amarillo residents’ minds. There’s a statue at Ellwood Park that pays tribute to the soldiers of the Confederate States of America. It went up in 1931. The Daughters of the Confederacy got it done. It depicts a soldier leaning on a rifle. You see the pedestal in the picture attached to this blog post.

Why mention it here? Why today? They’re taking down Confederate statues in New Orleans, where I reckon there exists a good bit more social/political activism — not to mention a population demographic that would take offense at any “monument” to the Confederacy.

That demographic would be the African-American population majority in the Big Easy.

Amarillo’s population has a far smaller percentage of African-American residents, so a Confederate statue isn’t likely to rile rank-and-file Amarillo residents.

However, if a movement to take that statue down were to materialize, I am one Amarillo resident who wouldn’t register a single objection. Why? The nation fought a war from 1861 until 1865 that killed more Americans than any other conflict in the nation’s history.

States seceded from the Union. Texas was one of them. The root cause of the Civil War continues to be debated, largely in classrooms throughout the former Confederate states.

The cause, as I was taught, centered on whether some states wanted to retain slave ownership, despite opposition to that policy from the federal government. The slavery issue has morphed in many Americans’ minds over the years into a “states’ rights” matter.

I don’t get it. Then again, that’s how I was taught.

Do I expect a take-the-statue-down movement to erupt in our relatively sleepy city? Nope. If it did, I’d simply say: Go for it!

Can’t we just end this ‘secede’ talk? Now?

secede-sign_jpg_312x1000_q100

I can’t believe this topic is still being discussed in some dark corners of Texas.

Some people actually want the state to secede from the United States of America.

It won’t go anywhere. The Texas Republican Party — which controls almost everything in this state — won’t allow it.

And yet …

The talk continues to fester.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/04/19/texas-secession-debate-getting-kind-real/

The Texas Tribune reports that when the Texas Republican Party meets next month the talk is going to get some traction in some quarters.

Sheesh, already!

The article I’ve attached to this post lays out an interesting summary of state history. The most fascinating element of it is how — after the Civil War, which the Confederacy lost — a law came into being that denied all the former states of the Confederacy the ability to ever secede from the Union.

Which state brought that prohibition forward? Texas!

Here, though, is where we stand today — with elements of the state GOP talking openly about persuading Texans to actually vote to secede.

Then-Gov. Rick Perry didn’t help matters when, in 2009, during a TEA Party rally he talked about how Texans might secede if they got angry enough at the federal government. He took back those comments, saying he opposes secession.

http://highplainsblogger.com/2009/04/what-he-could-have-said/

His retraction seemed to fall on a few deaf ears.

I take heart in the belief that the state won’t secede. History tells us the only time we did so didn’t turn out so well. The state and the rest of the Confederacy lost the bloodiest war in American history.

If only some of our fellow Texans would just heed that lesson.

 

Fly ‘that flag’ proudly … on your own property

battle flag

An interesting question came to me the other day on my first day back at work after taking a two-week trek through Texas.

“Did you see many Confederate flags on your travels through the state?” my friend asked.

Well, not “many,” but certainly more than a tiny smattering.

Which brings me to the point. I do not object to the sight of the Confederate flag on people’s personal property: their motor vehicles or on their RVs when they’re parked.

It’s the public-property display of the flag that irks me — and no doubt others.

We pulled our fifth wheel through North Texas, down through the Piney Woods of East Texas (which is about as “Dixie” as it can get in Texas), along the Gulf Coast, back to the Hill Country … and then finally home.

We stayed at state parks and at private RV campsites along the way. And while we were on the move along the highways and back roads, we saw our share of battle flags flapping from the back of pickups and even a few of ’em flying in the breeze at RV sites where we were staying.

Do I assume that anyone who flies the flag is a flaming racist intent on restoring slave ownership, which was one of the reasons the South went to war with the United States of America from 1861 to 1865? Not for one moment.

The whole Confederate kerfuffle was based on displaying the flag on public, taxpayer-supported property … such as at the South Carolina statehouse grounds in Columbia. The South Carolina Legislature voted earlier this year to take the flag down after a gunman killed nine African-Americans at the Charleston church; a young suspect in the shooting then was revealed to be a staunch supporter of the Confederacy and the issues for which it stood.

Flying the Confederate battle flag on the back of a truck? Or in someone’s front yard? Or from their RV? Not a problem, or at least not enough of a problem to raise a ruckus.

I was gratified, though, that we didn’t see too many of them on our journey through Texas.

 

 

So long, President Davis

dec7davis

Weep not for the removal from the University of Texas-Austin grounds of a statue.

It is of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The statue removal has been the subject of considerable angst at the campus. In the end, a judge said the statue could be removed.  So today it was taken down, wrapped up, put on a truck and will be taken to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

It need not be shown in a public place where everyone — including those who could be offended by a statue depicting someone who led the secessionist movement in the 19th century.

Davis statue comes down

It’s one more action taken in the wake of that monstrous shooting in Charleston, S.C., of nine African-Americans by someone who allegedly declared his intention to start a race war. A young man has been charged with the crime and this young man is known to have racist views and has been pictured with symbols of the Confederacy.

Do you get why the Jefferson Davis statue might be highly offensive, say, to many of the students and faculty members at UT-Austin?

According to the Texas Tribune: “UT Student Body President Xavier Rotnofsky — who proposed the removal of the statue as part of his satirical campaign — said the fight is over and he is happy to see the statue being moved.

“’It’s very satisfying,’ Rotnofsky said. ‘What started off as a very far-fetched idea during the campaign — we came through with and the school year has barely started.’

“He said the national conversation after the South Carolina shooting and the passion of students on UT’s campus made the removal possible.”

Yes, Davis is a historical figure in the strictest definition of the word. He also was a traitor to the United States of America. Has anyone lately seen any statues, for instance, of Benedict Arnold?

So, put Davis’s likeness in a museum, where it can be looked at and studied by those with an interest in the Civil War.

And be sure it includes all the reasons that Davis and the Confederacy went to war against the Union in the first place.

Heritage? OK, let’s talk about it

All this talk about the Confederate battle flag has ignited a side discussion.

It deals with “heritage.”

There are those who contend that the battle flag doesn’t symbolize hatred, bigotry and enslavement. It symbolized people’s “heritage.” They say it’s a historical symbol that embodies a region’s pride.

Interesting, don’t you think?

The South Carolina Legislature’s decision to strike the flag from the statehouse grounds was a welcomed event to many of us. I cheer the fact that the flag is now down. It was put there to protest the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s.

The flag, of course, is displayed prominently at Ku Klux Klan rallies. I don’t need to remind you what the KKK stands for.

Heritage? Do we want to look at other elements of our nation’s heritage? Do we want to salute these chapters?

* Our heritage denied women the right to vote from the founding of the Republic until 1920. Do we celebrate that denial?

* U.S. heritage also contains the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during much of World War II after the Roosevelt administration decided it couldn’t trust these Americans to be loyal to their country. Hey, let’s celebrate that event, too.

* Native Americans had their land taken from them as settlers marched westward in their conquest of our continent. Oh, and those settlers slaughtered millions of head of bison along the way. Let’s honor that, too.

The word “heritage” has become almost a throw-away line in the discussion about the Confederate battle flag.

The flag that’s been part of this discussion flew over the Army of Northern Virginia, which fought with other Confederate forces to tear apart the United States of America. The Confederates State of America sought to form a new nation and sought to preserve the right of human beings to own fellow human beings.

That’s the heritage some Americans want to honor?

No thank you.

Flag becomes easy target … with good reason

confederate flag

A flag is coming down today. TV networks are going to cover the event live, such as they did when we launched men to the moon or when we held state funerals for a murdered president.

This is a big deal for an important reason.

The flag — which symbolizes the kind of bigotry that helped launch the Civil War — is an easily recognizable symbol. Its intent today, in many quarters, is to inspire fear and to terrorize Americans.

It has to come down and it has to be placed in a museum, where adults can tell their children about what this flag means to so many millions of Americans.

The flag in question has flown on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, S.C., the state where just a few weeks ago nine African-Americans were slaughtered in a Charleston church. A young white man has been charged with murder; and that same young white man has been revealed to harbor hatred for African-Americans.

And yes, he’s displayed pictures of himself waving that Confederate battle flag.

You see the flag and any number of things come into your mind.

I see the flag as a symbol of oppression. That it would fly on public property — which is owned jointly by African-Americans and white Americans who see the flag as many of us do — is an insult in the extreme.

Moreover, the flag is different from many other Confederate symbols, such as statues.

There’s a statue at the west end of Ellwood Park here in Amarillo of a Confederate soldier. To be honest, I drove by it for years before I even knew what it represented. To this very day I cannot tell you who it represents, and I doubt most Amarillo residents even know the name of the individual depicted by that statue.

Should that artifact come down? I don’t believe its removal is as necessary as the removal of the flag from the statehouse grounds in South Carolina.

We know what the Confederate battle flag represents to many Americans.

And because it is so easily recognizable as what it is, then it needs to come down.

Today.

 

Symbols matter, but keep eye on big picture

confederate flag

The Confederate flag is a symbol of hatred, racism and human bondage.

So are the statues of Confederate “heroes” that populate public property throughout the Deep South.

It’s good that governments are taking aim at these symbols. Indeed, many pundits — and I include myself in that gang — have gone overboard to cry out for the removal of flags and statues.

It’s important that we rid ourselves of these visible, tangible and identifiable symbols. They need not stare us in the face and remind us of the path we’ve taken as a nation.

The bigger issue, though, lies in what they represent. The racism. The belief that some of us are better than others merely because of the pigment of our skin.

We’ve had a lot of intense discussion about these issues in the past several days. A young white man walked into a black church, sat down next to black Christians and joined them in a Bible study. The young man then pulled out a gun and shot nine of his acquaintances to death. Dylann Roof has been accused of the crime and we’re learning more about the young man each day, about his hatred of African-Americans and the deep-seated racism he harbored deep within what passes for his soul.

Is he alone? Hardly.

How do we rid society of this kind of evil? That remains the 64 bazillion-dollar question today as we continue to grieve over the deaths of those people in Charleston, S.C.

Yes, the symbols must be taken down. The Confederate battle flag belongs in museums, as President Obama noted. Indeed, removing these symbols doesn’t mean we ignore the things for which they stand. It means we must redouble our vigilance against those who would do the kind of harm against fellow human beings that was done this past week in that Charleston church.

The campaign against hate must continue.

 

Confederacy debate picks up steam

This national discussion we’re having about the Confederacy, its symbols and its place in American history has energized a lot of Americans.

News came out today that Wal-Mart — a company headquartered in Bentonville, Ark. — is pulling its Confederate gear out of its stores.

I mention the hometown of Wal-Mart because it’s in Arkansas, one of the states comprising the Confederate States of America.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/wal-mart-pulls-confederate-flag-products-in-wake-of-shooting/ar-AAbXYMU

The catalyst for this discussion, of course, was that terrible tragedy in Charleston, S.C., where a shooter vented his rage against black people by killing nine people in a church as he reportedly was studying the Bible with them.

Dylann Roof is accused of the crime. Roof, 21, is all but known to be a racist hater, wanting to launch a “race war” in the United States.

The Confederate States of America — and its symbol, the flag that for now flies on the statehouse grounds in South Carolina — committed a treasonous act in 1861 by seceding from the Union and then starting the Civil War with its bombardment of Fort Sumter in, of all places, Charleston Harbor.

The Confederacy long has symbolized treason. Over time it has symbolized hatred of some white people against black people.

Now we see a corporate giant taking its Confederate gear off its shelves.

Yes, the let the discussion continue and let it make clear the things for which the Confederacy stands.