Americans have been awakened perhaps in an unprecedented fashion about the history of the nation and the stone-cold reality that some of it is ugly and need not be displayed alongside the glorious chapters written along our national journey.
They are taking down Confederate monuments. These are statues of men who committed treason by joining a military force that sought to overthrow the government of the United States.
This awakening occurred, as you know, with the recent deaths of African-Americans at the hands of white police officers. There has been an explosion of anger at the injustice many Americans perceive in the nation.
Donald Trump, quite naturally, believes the monuments should remain. He is tone deaf and blind to what they represent. Or … he knows what they mean but is steeped in appealing only to the base of supporters who continue to stand with him even while the rest of the nation turns its back on Trump’s Stone Age notion of national history.
Trump’s stated concern is that we are seeking to forget that part of our history. I beg to differ. With emphasis.
The issue has not a thing to do with forgetting or ignoring the Civil War, or the reasons why we fought it. I don’t hear demonstrators saying such nonsense. I hear them say instead that we need to consign these artifacts to their proper place.
Statues of Confederate generals do not belong on public property. They belong in museums, where they can be displayed along with text and other reference material that tells visitors what these men did and why they did it. Why did the Confederate States of America declare war on the United States of America? To preserve the rights of states to own slaves, to keep human beings in bondage.
That is a history worth celebrating? No. It isn’t. It is a history worth remembering and studying for eternity, but not to celebrate or to honor or to salute.
So, let’s just ignore Donald Trump’s mindless rants about preserving history. No one wants erase the Civil War from our textbooks or deny children knowledge of what happened in the 19th century.
We have awakened to what I believe is an obvious conclusion … that the men who fought against the U.S. government were traitors and we should remember them as such.