From Hilton Head Island, South Carolina comes this letter.
The writer is no doubt sincere in her beliefs, but obviously hasn’t thought things through.
“Slavery was an atrocity; slave traders should have been prosecuted. Yes, a few of my ancestors had slaves, and they loved and provided for them.” Yes, that’s why they would send dogs after the runaways and have captured runaways whipped. Because they loved their enslaved people so much and wanted nothing more than to provide for them–whether the enslaved people liked it or not.
“Many of my ancestors lost their lives in the bloody battle, had permanent wounds that impacted their livelihood, or were imprisoned in inhumane conditions at Point Lookout, Md. Even so, I have never blamed the Confederate flag for my ancestors’ tragedies or for slavery.” Of course not, but the confederate flag was the symbol used by those who were fighting for an entity that was dedicated to preserving slavery and white supremacy. Your ancestors assisted in that effort. You can’t blame a flag, which is, after all, a symbol. If you want to blame someone, and to be clear, I don’t think blaming anyone today does a whole lot of good, blame your ancestors who made the choice to fight for the side that was fighting for slavery, or who voted for the folks who led South Carolina into secession and then started a war to protect slavery. And it’s mighty convenient to think only of their “suffering” and to ignore the suffering of the people who were enslaved for generations.
“Absurdity is growing exponentially.” Ironic.
“The South became what it was because of some people who made it so — people who are no longer here to be held accountable.” But do all of them deserve to be honored today? If they are no longer here to be held accountable, then the flip side would be they are no longer here to be honored.
“Can we all just accept history as a collection of good and evil that we cannot and should not change?” Taking down a flag or moving a monument is not changing history. I’ll point back to the ironic statement above. There isn’t any desire to change history. The desire is to not honor what is considered unworthy of being honored.
“And agree to get along and quit harboring hostilities from 150 years ago?” Perhaps the best way to do that is to get rid of symbols of oppression from 150 years ago.
My point is not that the letter writer is dumb. No. My point is the letter writer didn’t think things through. She didn’t consider others’ points of view. She looked at it solely from her family’s point of view, solely from a white southerner’s point of view. African-American southerners have had their historical oppressors’ viewpoints shoved down their throats for years without much thought regarding what they thought. Isn’t it time to take their views into account?