The Civil War was a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and should not be forgotten. But it’s not the only pivotal moment. I’d like to suggest some other pivotal moments to which we should erect statues honoring the participants, lest we forget.
We should erect a statue honoring Senator Joseph McCarthy in front of the Capitol, so we remember there was a time Communists were everywhere, trying to infiltrate our society. Sure, he ruined people’s lives for political gain. But it’s an important part of our history that, quite frankly, I’m surprised we still remember, given the utter lack of statuary.
We should have a statue honoring Governor George Wallace. Build it right in the doorway to the University of Alabama. Every student and professor there will have to squeeze past it to get in. We cannot afford to forget this important part of our history, when a champion of states’ rights did everything in his power to keep his state the way it had been for generations. Sure, the university itself is full of books and entire classes are taught on this specific event, but in the absence of a statue of Governor Wallace, how can we really remember?
We need to remember that the Buffalo Bills lost Super Bowl XXV in 1991 when Scott Norwood missed what would have been the game-winning field goal. We need to remember that they lost that game by one point, made it back to the Super Bowl the following three years, and lost all three of those times, too. We can’t risk Bills fans forgetting this. The statue honoring Scott Norwood should be placed to the right of the entrance to the stadium in Buffalo. Wide right.
Let’s sculpt an enormous likeness of Edward Snowden to honor the man who flung wide the doors of secretive government. Without a graven image of this whistleblower/traitor, we run the risk of forgetting this vital part of our nation’s recent history. Place the statue in the National Security Agency HQ, so the statue can teach all future NSA operatives the history of what happened. Maybe put a smart ushanka hat on the statue just to remind us all that he’s living in Russia under Putin’s mocking protection.
We definitely need a statue honoring Richard Nixon. He resigned in disgrace after knowingly orchestrating illegal surveillance of his political opponents. His statue could be at the Department of Justice, in remembrance of the multiple DOJ lifers whose careers he ruined. Without a statue honoring him, how will we ever remember what Nixonian overreach is?
There should be a statue honoring Steve Bartman. Place it in left field foul territory in Wrigley, just behind third base. We can’t afford to forget the history of a random fan costing the Cubs a World Series after what had been a 95-year drought at that time. Maybe we could put up a statue of Moises Alou throwing a fit at an umpire right next to it.
There should be a few statues of Jane Fonda erected right next to the Vietnam Memorial. Sure, most Vietnam veterans view Ms. Fonda as a traitor to the United States, but it’s important that we honor her and never forget there was violence on many sides. On many sides.
Why aren’t there any statues honoring Osama bin Laden? How else are we going to remember the horrors he ushered into the world if we don’t have his image carved in stone, looming over us? We could put it right outside of the Pentagon. Every highly ranked member of the military could walk by the statue on the way into work each day and remember this vital part of our collective history. Without the statue, we run the risk of forgetting 9/11 happened.
Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, these are all stupid examples and none of these cases make sense. We’re all going to remember 9/11 and certainly don’t want a statue of that worthless son of a bitch on our soil. We’re going to remember Joseph McCarthy because there have been countless books and essays written about him, and he was a jerkwad hardly worthy of our collective honor. And the same could be said for every one of these cases.
That’s a major reason why the argument that we have to keep statues of Confederate generals and leaders in order to “preserve history” falls so very flat.
Just like every one of these situations, we’re already going to remember the Civil War via books and other media, universities, museums, documentaries, and from watching Glory. And statues are perhaps the least effective means of teaching the lessons.
And further, if we did want to commemorate the Civil War with a statue, erecting a statue of a leader of the losing side makes absolutely no sense.
So if it doesn’t pass the smell test, why do folks run with “preservation of history” as the reason for protecting these statues?
Simple: because the real reason—racism—is a lot harder to sell in 2017.
Statues of Confederate “heroes” weren’t constructed in 1866 by grateful but defeated Southerners who wanted to honor their generals and leaders. Rather, they were mostly erected in the South (1) after Jim Crow laws started being enacted around 1900 and (2) during the Civil Rights Era of the 1960’s. Many of these statues were mass produced, placed in front of courthouses and schools and city halls throughout the South.
As the government chipped away at the legal aftereffects of the end of centuries of slavery, whites were desperately clinging to an ever-diminishing role of superiority in society. They needed new ways to assert their dominance over people of other races. Erecting a statue of the general who led the Rebel Army in an effort to keep the slaves enslaved was an overt demonstration of the state and local government’s stance on the outcome of the Civil War. We can’t enslave you anymore, but we don’t have to be happy about it.
In other words, the white sheriff, the white mayor, the white judge, and General Robert E. Lee himself would all like you to know (wink wink), oh son of former slaves, that everything’s going to be totally fair for you and your family (wink wink) here in Bumbledick, Alabama. Totally fair (wink wink nudge nudge).
The statues were erected in order to oppress members of a minority race. And today, the people that fight to keep them up aren’t doing so because they want to preserve history. That is the answer they give, because it’s easier to defend than saying, “we are protecting statues because we want to keep overt symbols of government-sanctioned racism in the public square so Black folks know, I say, so Black folks know who’s really in chaaahge ‘round heeyah, boy.” Little known fact: Southerners all turn into Foghorn Leghorn when they’re being particularly racist.
They’re defending the statues because the perks of membership in the forever-in-charge majority race are getting watered down as the arc of the moral universe keeps bending further toward justice. They’re feeling like victims because life isn’t going as “well” as it always has gone, given their general lack of melanin, and it has to be somebody else’s fault. And Black folk have ALWAYS been a good scapegoat for racist white people.
The statues aren’t really the point anymore. The fact that people of other races and liberal elites want the statues taken down is the point.
It’s just another erosion of the “mountain” upon which white people used to be kings.
They’re defending the statue, because they know they can’t look the rest of us in the eye and honestly defend the mountain of institutional racism itself, upon which their shitty, mass-produced statue is standing.
Want to read more of my stuff? Here ya go: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Join The Alt-Right. Or maybe this one will be more your style: It’s My God-Given Right To Marginalize Your Dumb Ass For Being A Gun-Nut.
20 thoughts on “General Obvious Denial, CSA.”
I love reading your blog. I am working hard to see how the statues on Monument Avenue are interpreted as “symbols of racism” by so many people. People who selfrighteously maintain that their interpretation is the only one that counts. Just because Trump is an add, please don’t label all white southerners as racists. P.S. I think your idea about Hoover and Wallace statues is hilarious and might be necessary since history doesn’t seem to be taught anymore.
I don’t think all white southerners are racist – especially not overtly or intentionally so. I grew up in Texas and lived there through college/grad school. Moved away at 28. I know plenty of non-racist southerners. As for your attempt to see how the statues are interpreted as racist, two thoughts. (1) Imagine if you were Jewish in Germany and you had to attend Adolf Hitler High School, walk past a statue of Erwin Rommel to go to court, and there was a statue of Dr. Mengele in front of the local hospital. And it had been that way since the war, and the vast majority of judges, teachers, people in authority were Aryan. Even if they weren’t being overtly racist to you, there’s an institutional racism that is woven through society, especially in light of the past that everyone is completely aware of. (2) I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending, because I don’t mean it that way – I came to a conclusion several years ago about myself. When people of color are saying they feel offended by something or oppressed or harmed, and I think to myself, “they shouldn’t feel that way,” what I’m really saying one layer deeper is that I don’t give them the same respect as I’d give myself or any member of my own race. I’m not taking their assertion of their own feelings at face value as being valid. In other words, if a Black man says the statue offends him – I’m not Black, I can’t possibly put myself in his shoes 100%, so why wouldn’t I just take it at face value that it’s offensive to him, and as an equal member of society, that’s reason enough to think about removing it?
The comparison to Nazis and Jews is illustrative, but the differences are glaring. Colonists didn’t blame Africans for the evils in society, nor did they burn them in ovens and chase them down to kill them. The arguments that it’s not healthy to make others work for room and board or trade their relatives away. (Things that happen to this day under minimum wage). I won’t say more because I agree that no people should be owned (even wives and children). Just maybe think of the ways Colonists weren’t like Nazis. Their differences in thinking that lighter skin color was somehow superior was based on ignorance of the times. I was shocked to find out that among African-Americans there is a prejudice based on skin shade! Live and learn. /s/ a 1970s hippie
“The argument is…”
I can’t figure out how to edit!
Of course there is a difference. I didn’t bring up Nazis in my article because I thought there were other more illustrative ways to tell the story. But the underlying thing is there – if Black folks say it’s offensive, and they are your kind equals, that’s good enough. Ask 20 Black friends what they think. Most will say it’s offensive and reinforces the institutional racism prevalent in our society.
Sorry, that was supposed to be “Trump is an ass!”
Excellent post, as usual.
Just an FYI….. the Cubs actually gave Steve Bartman a 2016 World Series ring this summer as a way of closing that chapter and removing the scapegoat (no pun intended!) status he’s been living with since that game.
Yeah, I saw that actually – good for them. It’s like when a team throws a fit about a bad call. You’ve got an entire game – an entire season, even – to put yourself in a position to make certain that one bad call isn’t going to ruin your year. If 1 fan interference call in a game that’s not the final game in the league series can tank you, you’re probably not the best team in the league…but easier to blame some dude than to just suck it up and do better. I’m glad they let that poor guy off the hook.
The insincerity of the claim that this is about history is obvious. These are monuments are partisan statements about the politics of segregation, not sober efforts to understand the history of the civil war.
Yes indeed – being disingenuous is kind of their game! Thanks for checking out my work, I hope you’ll explore and read more here at my site!
I hesitate to label all defense of the statues as out and out racism. But, I do think there is a strong element of — “We wish we had won.” “We should have won.” “If given the chance, we’d fight again and we’d win.” If the south had won, slavery would have eventually ended, but it would have lasted many more decades. And the United States as we know it would not exist, and as a result, the entire world would be a far different place. I don’t think the south is ready to admit that its defeat, as devastating as the war and the aftermath was, was the best thing. The right thing. The moral thing. I think to black people, the statues are racist. (And I understand that.) I think to southern white people, it’s an unwillingness to admit their “side” was wrong. I enjoy your posts. Thanks for speaking up.
I agree with you to a point – I think the part that I disagree with comes down to how we define “racism.” I absolutely agree that many white southerners are not overtly racist. However, many of those same people have gladly benefited from policies for generations that have given them a leg-up vs. other citizens that were ethnic minorities. The statues were part of that regime that was quietly benefitting the white people. When they say they aren’t racist, they aren’t wrong in that they’re limiting (accidentally) the definition to overt racism. But when the system is already institutionally racist, fighting to maintain the status quo IS racist, even if your intent isn’t. That’s my two cents, as a native Texan who chose to live elsewhere in adulthood.
I don’t disagree. I think it might help the over all dialogue — not specifically talking about your blog, I enjoy its bluntness — if we leave the label of racism to the overt kind. And maybe come up with another word for the failure to even attempt to see someone else’s point of view. That may be a much harder battle to fight in the end. Definitely a bigger one. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s a battle against hateful people. Prideful people definitely, stubborn for sure, but not innately hateful. In the end, I don’t have the answer. But I appreciate other people who are seeking it.
My day is made when I see a new column from you. For me I’m taking Critical Thinking 101 taught my Prof Dobbs. You are today’s Will Rogers. I share your work with others, especially when my words aren’t good enough to express what I want to say. Since reading your writings I’ve lost the urge to shake the smithereens out of someone who i feel just doesn’t get it. We all need someone who makes us think and not just react. So, Prof Dobbs, keep up the course in critical thinking. It makes us all better people. Thanks.
Wow, you just made MY day! Thank you, Alissa! I’m glad you’re enjoying what I’m writing. And I appreciate you sharing my work, I’m trying to grow my audience, so it’s especially nice to hear that you think it’s worthy of forwarding to your friends. It’s especially fun to forward it to people who’ll get really pissed about it…but that’s probably just me being a punk. But it’s so fun to watch people’s veins pop out of their heads! At any rate, I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading and letting me know your thoughts. Unfortunately, the world is going sideways lately, but the silver lining is that it gives me PLENTY to write about! Thanks again!
URW. Don’t worry about running out of material. I’m almost 70 and have lived through some crazy stuff. We need shaking up so we don’t become complacent. It’s not what happens to us, but how we handle it. Keep on rockin’. I will.
Well put. Bravo
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Hope you’ll stick around and read some more of my stuff, or follow the blog on facebook, twitter or instagram. Or you can follow me around in real life, though that might get kind of boring/awkward. 🙂
Pingback: I Had 99 Posts But Now I Have 100. | Hitting the Trifecta
Pingback: California Is Hella Stoked It's Not Mississippi. | HITTING THE TRIFECTA