Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Erasing History

The events this past Saturday makes me sad to be an American. It is hard to believe this much hate still exists in our country. It is even more puzzling the whole ordeal started over a Robert E. Lee statue. Apparently, the local government decided to remove the statue because it represents “hate” which I found ridiculous, but unfortunately White Supremacists validated the local government’s concern. Both sides are wrong, it is not right to erase our history over political correctness and of course any argument to keep the statue for reasons of racism, bigotry, and hate is just plain stupid.

The debate over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue should not have been about “hate”, but the precedent this sends by erasing a portion of our history. It is dangerous to erase history because these are events we should never forget, but yet most Americans are unaware or ignorant about our historical past. We should never forget the struggle of the Civil War and we should never forget the issues over which the Civil War was fought. Slavery is a brutal fact about America’s scared past and that is something we should never forget.

Robert E. Lee was a slave owner and by many accounts he was a harsh one at that. But Lee was a big part of our national history. Nobody gave the South a fighting chance to defeat the North, but it was Lee’s extraordinary leadership skills that turned the Civil War into a four-year struggle that killed over 600,000 Americans. Lee outclassed one Northern General after another. Finally, Ulysses S. Grant realized the biggest advantage the North had was in numbers. Grant used this advantage to defeat Lee (at the expense of enormous casualties). Lee made history, even if it is was negative history that we all would like to forget.

If we decide to erase all the Confederate statues around the country, what is next? Where do we draw the line on erasing history? Do we eliminate Confederate references in our history books? Of course, four of our first five presidents are easy targets because they too were slave holders (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe). Do we eliminate their statues and erase their names in our history books to be politically correct? But to be fair, we cannot stop there. Why not eliminate the following persons from our history: Teddy Roosevelt (Eugenics believer), Margret Sanger (Eugenics believer), Oliver Wendell Holmes (Eugenics believer and all around racist and bigot), Woodrow Wilson (He segregated the government), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (internment of Japanese Americans), and Harry Truman (Dropped two atomic bombs intentionally killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians). Sure, these men and women may have done some good things for society, but many of their actions were controversial to say the least. This would leave only Lincoln left on Mt. Rushmore. Of course, many of Lincoln’s actions as President were also questionable because they violated the Constitution such as suspending a writ of habeas corpus. Lincoln used this power to detain people for no reason and deny them due process of the law (not much different than slavery). Anyone could make an argument to eliminate anyone from our history. Where is line drawn? Selectively erasing history is a dangerous precedent.

Today, it is easy for most Americans to see slavery for what it was: a brutal and racist institution that violated the rights of millions of slaves in our history. But, that distinction was not so easy to make for a vast majority of Southerners throughout a large portion of our history. I would suspect a vast majority of person’s living today that view slavery as evil would have a completely different view of the institution if they were born in the 1800s in the American South. The environment and culture would negatively and incorrectly shape our thoughts and point of view on the subject. This is why history is important and why we should never forget. History has a way of repeating itself and we surely do not need that. Removing the Robert E. Lee statue is not going to change the minds of White Supremacists to all the sudden love their neighbors and accept a diverse culture. That is simply wishful thinking. That statue is now a reminder, to me, the scary fact that people who had no ties to slavery and the Civil War still defend those policies in modern America. That is why the statue must remain so we never forget the evils of our past and present.

No comments:

Post a Comment