Those keeping track of confederate heritage’s retreat are busier than the proverbial one-armed wallpaper hanger.
Professor Anne Twitty of the University of Mississippi has been researching the speeches given at the dedication of one of the university’s confederate monuments. She says on Twitter, “On May 10, 1906, Charles Scott, a candidate for governor who often campaigned in his Confederate uniform, gave the speech dedicating a new Confederate monument” at the university. Scholars have been looking for a transcript of the speech and she found it. She says, “It was reprinted in full in the Vicksburg Herald on May 11, 1906. Much of the speech, as expected, is boilerplate Lost Cause rhetoric. Scott repeatedly defends the right of secession, argues that slavery was a ‘mere incident’ to the Confederate cause, and exalts the gallantry of Confederate soldiers and the nobility of white southern women. But toward the end of the speech, Scott describes what he perceived to be ‘the crowning glory of the Confederate soldier’: his defense of ‘Anglo Saxon civilization’ during Reconstruction. Specifically, Confederate soldiers served white supremacy by breaking the law ‘boldly, aggressively, and intentionally.’ They ‘overrode the letter of the law’ in order to ‘maintain the spirit of the law.’ Scott asserted that former Confederate resistance to Reconstruction entitled them to the ‘lasting gratitude of the civilized world,’ which, he suggested, was increasingly beginning to see the ‘race question’ in the same way former Confederates did. This claim was bolstered by reference to a piece by Charles Francis Adams in the May 1906 Century Magazine. Adams, a descendant of the presidents, and a Union veteran, had recently returned from a trip to Africa. … Seeing his own views, and the views of his audience, reflected in the pages of a national publication gave Scott cheer. As a result, he asserted, former Confederates’ efforts to ‘preserve Anglo Saxon civilization’—’this one act alone’—would ultimately ensure that ‘the Confederate soldier will be reverenced by the north as it is already loved by all the people of the south.’ In the end, Scott told the crowd assembled on May 10, 1906 for the unveiling of the Confederate monument at [the University of Mississippi] that former Confederates’ defense of white supremacy during Reconstruction ‘overshadows all [their] brilliant victories on the field of battle.’ In this, ironically, he was right. In other words, what was this a monument to? What did the people unveiling this monument think it stood for? In their eyes, Confederate soldiers’ greatest achievement did not come during the Civil War, but rather during Reconstruction, when they ensured, through force of arms, that Black people would remain subjugated. It is long past time to take this monument to white supremacy down.
What did United States soldiers who fought in the Civil War think of confederate monuments? Here is one set of views, from veterans in Schuylkill County, PA. ” In 1903, the local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) post in Pottsville took a stand with thousands of other US Army veterans of the Civil War in taking a stand against a proposed monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee on the Gettysburg battlefield. The ‘shallow sentimentalism’ about the Civil War decried by these Schuylkill County veterans in the pieces below unfortunately has taken root among many Americans today. Let it be showed by these primary sources, and others to be published in the future, that Civil War veterans from the Coal Region were almost universally against the construction of monuments to the Confederacy’s political and military leaders. Context for this particular opposition to Confederate monument – in 1903, some in the Pennsylvania Legislature brought up a bill to appropriate $20,000 of state funds in a bid to help install an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee. The following was written in opposition to such a bill.
From the Pottsville Republican, January 24, 1903
Gowen Post No. 23, G.A.R., of town, has placed itself on record in a series of resolutions, published in “Republican” columns, as being unalterably opposed to the erection of an equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. Lee on the battlefield of Gettysburg.
The Post deems the passage of a bill by the State Legislature appropriating $20,000 for this purpose “a shallow sentimentalism” and calls upon our Representatives from this county and all loyal Pennsylvanians to assist in defeating the measure.
There has been much frothy sentimentalism indulged in by Northern sycophants since the close of the Civil War. It is well to bury the issues of the past and let by-gones be by-gones, but such a sentiment would not obtain in regard to placing a monument of Gen. Grant beside that of Gen. Lee in the grand Plaza of New Orleans or in the soldiers’ plat in that city, where the annual Confederate memorial services take place and which thousands of people from all over the South come to witness.
No other country shows the same leniency to its foes as does the United States…To forgive is Divine, but such radical extremes can never meet if the waters of oblivion are to close over the dead issues of the past.
Gowen Post Adopts Resolutions Against Cooper’s Proposition
At a regular meeting of Gowen Post No. 23, G.A.R., held last evening the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, Thomas V. Cooper, representative from Delaware County, has introduced in the Legislature at Harrisburg, a bill appropriating $20,000 toward the erection of an equestrian statue of General Robert E. Lee, to be erected on the battlefield of Gettysburg, PA; therefore be it
Resolved, That Gowen Post No. 23, G.A.R. do most earnestly protest against such a desecration of the hallowed ground of our honored dead, who there gave up their lives that the cause that General Robert E. Lee so valiantly represented might be overthrown.
Resolved, That we condemn all such sentimental patriotism as unworthy of intelligent, loyal Pennsylvanians.
Resolved, That we call upon our Representatives from this county to use their utmost efforts to have the bill stricken from the calendar or to have it defeated if ever pressed to a vote, and that we call upon loyal Pennsylvanians throughout the State to help us save the honor of our Commonwealth by defeating such shallow sentimentalism as that expressed in the proposed bill.
“I’ll say it here again: many Pennsylvania Civil War veterans felt it inappropriate and blasphemous to erect monuments to traitors who attempted to overthrow the United States government in a suicidal effort to protect their right to enslave human beings. The bill was defeated. In 1917, a $50,000 statue of Robert E. Lee was dedicated on the Gettysburg battlefield. No Pennsylvania state funds went to its construction. And for many of the Pennsylvania soldiers who donned the blue uniforms of the US Army in the 1860s, they voiced their disdain for the Confederate cause until their dying days.”
In this opinion piece, Professor Walter Hixon of the University of Akron tells us, “Understanding of these pivotal events can only come through knowledge of history —the discipline that helps us to understand where we have been, why we are where we are today, and where we might need to go in the future. Unfortunately, universities like the University of Akron have savaged history education in deference to the false faith that all the answers to humanity’s problems lie in the realm of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. In fact, as our current deep-seated social and political problems attest, the crisis we face today flows from an ignorance of history. Correspondingly, potential solutions can only flow from greater understanding of the past. Anyone who studies American history in any depth will readily understand the rage and frustration of brown and black as well as red people whose repression is deeply rooted in a white supremacist culture. Since Europeans began to arrive on the continent, they removed and, if they felt like it, killed indigenous people in order to seize their homes and land for their own wealth creation. After Indian slavery failed, in part because Indians did not have immunities of Old-World diseases and thus died in droves, our forebears imported African slaves, who were whipped, raped, and mutilated for centuries. When as a consequence of the culture of white supremacy Americans could no longer politically compromise over their own crimes against humanity, they killed 750,000 of each other in a civil war. The war ended slavery but not oppression, as the failure of postwar Reconstruction allowed the South to reassert white supremacy while the North and West displayed indifference and prejudice of their own. After Americans, including people of color, participated in two world wars, ostensibly to promote freedom across the globe, they and growing numbers of white supporters demanded racial equality and voting rights. Reforms materialized through the ‘second Reconstruction’ of the 1960s but severe economic inequality, police violence, and the ‘new Jim Crow’ of massive incarceration of African-Americans and now we are where we are today. Support for basic knowledge of history would help more Americans understand how we landed in the current situation and to support meaningful change. Our universities could play a pivotal role but instead universities like Akron have gone in the opposite direction. They have failed their mission to support public higher education.” He has a point.
This article seeks to help us understand what we can learn from post-World War II Europe. ” ‘Whatever else I may forget,’ the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said in 1894, ‘I shall never forget the difference between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery.’ Douglass (who is doing an amazing job and is being recognized more and more) deplored an emerging national consensus that the Civil War had been fought over vague philosophical disagreements about federalism and states’ rights, but not over the core issue of slavery. In this retelling, neither side was right or wrong, and both Confederate and Union soldiers were to be celebrated for their battlefield valor. Douglass was right to be concerned. Southerners may have lost the Civil War, but between the 1890s and 1920s they won the first great battle over its official memory. They fought that battle in popular literature, history books and college curricula, but also on hundreds of courthouse steps and city squares, where they erected monuments to Confederate veterans and martyrs. These statues reinforced the romance of reunion. Now, a century and a half after the Civil War, Americans are finally confronting the propriety of celebrating the lives of men who committed treason in the name of preserving slavery. That these statues even exist is unusual. When armies are defeated on their own soil—particularly when those armies fight to promote racist or genocidal policies—they usually don’t get to keep their symbols and material culture. As some commentators have noted, Germany in 1945 is a useful comparison. ‘Flags were torn down while defeated cities still burned, even as citizens crawling from the rubble were just realizing that the governments they represented had ended,’ wrote a reporter for McClatchy. Most physical relics of the Nazi regime were banished from public view. In this sense, the example of Germany’s post-war de-Nazification may offer a way forward for the United States. Yet history tells a more complicated story. In its initial years, de-Nazification had only limited impact. It would take time, generational change and external events to make Germany what it is today—a vibrant democracy that is notably less permissive of racism, extremism and fascism than the United States. Tearing down the symbols of Nazi terror was a necessary first step—but it didn’t ensure overnight political or cultural transformation. It required a longer process of public reconciliation with history for Germans to acknowledge their shared responsibility for the legacy of Nazism. The vast majority of Americans have long agreed that the destruction of slavery was a just outcome of the Civil War. But in continuing to honor Confederate leaders and deny their crimes, we signal that the United States has not yet fully come to terms with its collective responsibility for the dual sins of slavery and Jim Crow.”
After going over the rise of the lost cause lie and reconciliation, as well as the erection of confederate monuments, we read, “In the years immediately following its surrender to Allied forces in World War II, Germany underwent a much different process from the American South in the wake of the Civil War. Whereas the vast majority of Confederate civilian and military officials suffered no greater penalty than the confiscation of property and temporary loss of voting rights, in Germany, top military and government officials were tried and sentenced to prison or execution. In the Western zone, U.S. and British administrators established de-Nazification panels and filtered through 16 million questionnaires. They identified 3.5 million former Nazis, many of whom were fired from government posts. Libraries were stripped of Nazi books and periodicals, fascist newspapers shuttered, and all physical vestiges of the old regime removed and destroyed. In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) criminalized the display of swastikas; the symbol was also scraped and sometimes blown off of buildings. The federal state systematically destroyed statues and monuments, razed many Nazi architectural structures and buried executed military and civilian officials in mass, unmarked graves so that their resting grounds would not become Nazi shrines. If the physical de-Nazification of Germany was absolute—and it was—it proved harder to effect a spiritual purge of the country’s recent fascist past. To rebuild the country, American occupiers found that it was all but impossible to ‘find reasonably competent Germans who had not been affiliated or associated in some way with the Nazi regime,’ according to General Lucius Clay. In Cologne, fully 18 of the 21 employees of the city waterworks were former Nazis; American authorities faced a stark choice—let the city’s supply of potable water go dry, or let the Nazis keep their jobs. The answer was obvious. Towns and cities needed to be administered. The court system needed to function. Police departments required staff. Children needed to attend school. Though half of all Bavarian teachers were initially fired for their Nazi membership, by 1948 most of them were back in the classroom. Fully 94 percent of Bavarian judges and prosecutors were ex-Nazis, and one-third of foreign ministry employees in Bonn, the West German capital. Though statues had been blown up and flags burned or shredded, many Germans in the 1950s resisted political reeducation. Allied officials sometimes required adults to view footage of liberated concentration camps before they could receive ration cards; one memoirist recalled that most of the people he sat with in a theater in Frankfurt turned their heads and simply refused to watch the film. Five years after the war, surveys revealed that one-third of the country thought the Nuremberg war crime trials had been ‘unfair.’ Majorities believed that Nazism had been a ‘good idea, badly applied,’ and consistently, over a third of the population continued to prefer that the country be free of Jews. As late as 1955, 48 percent of respondents felt that Hitler would have been one of Germany’s greatest leaders, ‘but for the war.’ The physical destruction of iconography, in other words, was no instant antidote to extremist ideology. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that Germany reckoned fully with the moral weight of its Nazi legacy. A string of events thrust the topic into full consciousness, from belated public investigations into German war crimes on the eastern front, to Israel’s capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann and criminal trials in Frankfurt of Auschwitz concentration camp guards. During the first 15 years of the postwar era, German schools buried any mention of the Holocaust or other Nazi atrocities; later, they slowly incorporated such subject matter in the curriculum. The Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War and massacre of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich generated widespread empathy toward Israel. When West German television ran a gauzy American miniseries, Holocaust, in 1979, 20 million viewers watched all four evenings of the broadcast. The production was dreadful, but it galvanized German public opinion in a way that the much-higher-quality series Roots compelled many Americans to examine the legacy of slavery two years earlier. The generation of Germans that came of age in the 1970s and 1980s confronted the country’s Nazi past and forcefully repudiated it. It took several decades of hard self-reflection, but a reunified Germany emerged from the Cold War as one of the great mainstays of democracy and human rights.” This is an echo of the call for better history education. As the article tells us, “As long as we continue to perpetuate the myth of Confederate innocence—the idea that good men on both sides fought over distant abstractions and then came together again in brotherhood—we continue to lie to ourselves.” It concludes, “In Germany, you won’t see neo-Nazis converging on a monument to Reinhard Heydrich or Adolf Hitler, because no such statues exist. The country long ago came to grips with the full weight of its history. But you’ll find Nazis and Klansmen in Virginia, circling a statue of Robert E. Lee, a traitor who raised arms against his own country in the defense of white supremacy. How do we explain to the descendants of his victims—fallen Union soldiers and widows, and so many million slaves—that Robert E. Lee doesn’t deserve the same eternal infamy as Eichmann or Heydrich?” Good question.
Professor Hilary Green discussed the confederate monument issue with Professors David Silkenat and Frank Cogliano on their podcast, “The Whiskey Rebellion.” The episode’s description reads, “Frank and David are joined by Hilary Green, Associate Professor at the University of Alabama, to discuss the recent removal of Confederate monuments and her work to educate people about the legacies of slavery and the Confederacy on campus. We also discuss how the BLM protests have challenged the monumental landscape around the world, including in the UK.” You can access it here.
In this article from Montgomery County, Maryland, we find, “The Montgomery County Council has asked Executive Marc Elrich and Planning Department Chairman Casey Anderson to review the names of all county-owned streets and public facilities to determine which are named after Confederate soldiers ‘or those who otherwise do not reflect Montgomery County values.’ In a letter, all nine council members ask for all streets and facilities that Elrich and Anderson identify to be renamed through a public process, in a ‘manner that more appropriately reflects the community to which they belong.’ The letter does not identify any possible facilities that need to be renamed. But in an email on Tuesday morning, Aaron Kraut, a staff member for Council Member Andrew Friedson, wrote that three streets in Potomac — Jeb Stuart Road, Jubal Early Court and Jeb Stuart Court — are possible targets. Stuart and Early were Confederate Army generals.” The article also tells us, “Last year, the Montgomery County school board began a review of all school names and identified six named after slave owners. The school board has not yet reviewed the report, but member Pat O’Neill in August said the exercise would be primarily for informational purposes. The school district does, however, plan to rename Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring. Col. E. Brooke Lee, the namesake of the middle school in Silver Spring, is credited with developing the county’s first land use and zoning system. But historians say he purposely attached racially restrictive policies prohibiting African Americans from buying or renting homes in subdivisions. In February 2019, County Council Member Nancy Navarro, a former school board member, urged MCPS to consider renaming the school to align with the completion of an ongoing renovation and addition project, set to be finished in 2021. Montgomery County itself is named after Richard Montgomery, who historians believe acquired slaves when he married into his wife’s family. Countywide, more than 56 percent of residents are people of color, compared to 28 percent in 1990, according to a report the county Planning Department released last year. In its letter this week, County Council members wrote that officials must ‘target the symbols that normalize and legitimize’ racism. ‘We cannot change the troubling aspects of our past, but we must confront it — honestly and openly,’ the letter said. ‘We cannot recreate history, but we can decide how accurately we reflect it, and who we choose to glorify from it.’ During a Gaithersburg City Council meeting on Monday night, Council Member Ryan Spiegel requested an inventory to determine whether there are any Confederate monuments in Gaithersburg.”
We have this article from North Carolina. It says, “City officials have voted to remove a Confederate monument that’s stood in Battle Park for more than 100 years. At least two Rocky Mount City Council members who voted for removal, Mayor Pro-tem Andre Knight and Councilman Reuben Blackwell, participated in a peaceful protest May 31 at the monument two days prior to an initial vote for its removal. A second vote with the same results took place June 8. Blackwell’s son Cooper organized the rally at the monument to protest police brutality and promote social equality. The elder Blackwell said he hates to drive past the monument. ‘It’s something that memorializes murder to me and to people who look like me, rape to me and people who look like me and economic subjugation to me and people who look like me,’ Blackwell said.” Of course, the SCV, which pushes a phony version of history and supports monuments and other symbols of racism, is opposed. “People call the Confederate markers monuments, but they’re really memorials, said Frank Powell, spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. ‘They stand for people who answered the call of their governor and died defending their state,’ Powell said. ‘U.S. Congress has made Confederate soldiers the same as U.S. soldiers. These memorials deserve respect.’ ” That, of course, is a lie. The U.S. Congress did not in any way make confederate soldiers the same as U.S. soldiers. Unfortunately, the journalist didn’t have the knowledge to take on that particular lie. It’s in fact spitting in the face of U.S. soldiers who fought against confederate soldiers. Confederate soldiers were enemies of U.S. soldiers, the same as the Taliban, the same as the Viet Cong, the same as Nazi soldiers in World War II. The SCV lies continue: “The markers honor Confederate soldiers who are buried in unmarked graves all around the South, Powell said. Anyone who attributes anything more than a memorial to the markers is creating a false narrative, Powell said. ‘These monuments don’t stand for slavery, racism or white supremacy,’ Powell said.” It’s amazing someone can lie so much in such a little time.
From Norfolk, Virginia, we have this story. “The City of Norfolk started removing the remainder of its downtown Confederate monument on Tuesday, June 16. Last week, the 16-foot bronze statue that topped the monument — commonly known as ‘Johnny Reb’ — was removed in the interest of public safety, following nationwide protests of such monuments, including one that left a person seriously hurt at Portsmouth’s Confederate monument. The City said it is proceeding with the immediate removal of the remainder of the monument after protesters climbed higher portions of it to spray-paint graffiti.” The article concludes, “Everything except the three steps leading up to the monument will be removed. The ultimate fate of the monument is still undecided. Norfolk will hold a public hearing on July 7 to help decide on its relocation, and also observe the required 30-day period to receive further comment on these matters prior to rendering a final decision.”
We have this story from Greenville, North Carolina. “After a 7-2 county commissioner vote Monday night, Pitt County will take down the Confederate statue in Greenville, right in front of the Pitt County Courthouse, in a matter of weeks — if not sooner. The decision was made in light of a clause about public safety and as the monument has been a focal point of vandalism and destruction during Greenville’s protest for George Floyd.” The article continues, “The statue is owned by the county and with the reason of threatened public safety, the commissioners have the legal authority to take it down. The county manager said the cost for removal and storage of the monument will probably cost around $100,000. This will come from the board’s contingency fund left over for unforeseen expenses.”
This story comes to us from Cobb County, Georgia. It says, “More than two hours of often heated and emotional public comment preceded Monday’s announcement that the Confederate battle flag will no longer fly in downtown Kennesaw’s Memorial Park on Main Street. Kennesaw resident Matt Southwell told City Council, ‘Monuments to the wrong side of the most bloody conflict in American history do not teach history…Textbooks. Museums. This is where those symbols belong so that they can be properly contextualized with all of the facts surrounding them.’ George Williams IV, a resident assistant at Kennesaw State University, shared his frustration over the flag and Wildman’s Confederate memorabilia store, another source of tension in downtown Kennesaw. ‘What am I going to tell new freshmen who want to get to know the city…that they need to watch out for certain areas? Because you may see a Confederate flag? A Klan hood in a window of a shop?’ Williams said. Supporters of removing the flag who addressed the council in person and via email significantly outnumbered those who said they wanted it to stay, but there was still strong opposition voiced. Debra Williams, who ran for mayor of Kennesaw in 2015, said, ‘I’m not gonna deal with emotions. I’m gonna deal with facts and law…There’s a proper process in changing that law if you don’t like it. Should you choose to stay on the path each of you have spoken to take, you again, will knowingly, willingly and intentionally be choosing to break the law. When you break the law, you are, at that moment, a criminal and immediately should be arrested.’ The law Williams referred to is from a 2001 compromise that was reached when changing the Georgia state flag. The law prevents removal or alteration of publicly-owned memorials and monuments. It reads:
OCGA 50-3-1 (2) No publicly owned monument or memorial erected, constructed, created, or maintained on the public property of this state or its agencies, departments, authorities, or instrumentalities in honor of the military service of any past or present military personnel of this state, the United States of America or the several states thereof, or the Confederate States of America or the several states thereof shall be relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion; provided, however, that appropriate measures for the preservation, protection, and interpretation of such monuments or memorials shall not be prohibited.
“The city took action to change the flag based on the part of the statute that allows ‘appropriate measures for the preservation, protection, and interpretation’ by issuing a resolution to replace the old flag, which was ‘not historically related to the events commemorated at the park,’ with the unofficial state flag that was in use prior to 1879. ‘I think that the time is now to make a difference. Kennesaw is ready to move forward but never forgetting our past. We learn from it and do better. My Grandma used to say, ‘It’s never too late to do the right thing.’ I believe Kennesaw is doing the right thing now,’ former Councilman Jimmy Dickens told the Courier. Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) also attended the meeting in support of the change, unfurling the replacement flag with Dickens’ assistance.”
In this opinion piece about monuments in general, Professor Jacob Lee of Penn State University tells us, “Historical memory matters because it is both a gauge and modifier of power. Public monuments have always been sharply politicized and fiercely contested by common people because they grasp the stakes. Commemoration might derive primarily from social and material conditions, rather than the other way around, but memories are not mere perceptions. Rather, collective remembrance is bound to productive relations and political outcomes. Likewise, popular representations of the past are critical to consciousness-raising, organizing, and the capacity for solidarity. As we confront oppressive structures, our historical memory must aspire to be truly democratic. In contrast, victory obelisks, allegorical martial figures, and statues to generals, politicians, and business elites do not measure up. Inspiring reverence and eliciting emotional, often uncritical reaction, so-called heroic figures cast in stone and bronze reinforce a monumental democracy that assumes great individuals should lead and the rest should follow. Vertical, towering, and celebratory, monuments reflect and reinforce prevailing arrangements of power. They fetishize hierarchy and individualism at the expense of the collective and assume that history is made by ‘great’ men and, far more rarely, women. Monuments are instruments intended to reflect a particular vision of the past in order to influence the present and shape the future. The dominant chronicle of the U.S. state—as a ‘march of progress’ spurred by democracy and free market capitalism—is encoded into the nation’s monumental landscape. Although generations of critics have assailed public monuments as incompatible with democracy, the nation’s civic landscape remains inundated with representations of military and political leaders. Despite rare examples of countervailing monuments representing members of Black, immigrant, and other marginalized communities, the “statue mania” of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to a profusion of ‘Great White Men’ on pedestals. These self-aggrandizing works were physical representations of the ideology of an imperialistic and increasingly militarized nation-state and often linked citizenship to whiteness and war-making.”
According to this article from Hattisburg, Mississippi, “The Hattiesburg City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night supporting the relocation of a Confederate monument from its current location outside the circuit court building in downtown Hattiesburg. This comes after the Forrest County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Monday to put the issue of relocating the statue on the ballot in November. The monument sits on Forrest County property and the city has no legal authority to move it. Last week, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker called on the Forrest County Board to begin searching for a more appropriate place for the monument to be located, offering the city’s assistance in doing so. Tuesday’s City Council resolution was introduced by Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George. ‘The City Council of Hattiesburg, Mississippi hereby affirms its strong support for the relocation of the Forrest County Confederate Monument from its current location in Downtown Hattiesburg to a suitable location that provides appropriate contextual value and preserves the history of the monument,’ wrote George in the resolution. George read the resolution aloud before it passed unanimously. ‘I’ve been able to listen to those individuals but also have conversations with people that I have worked with for years, both as a student at Southern Miss and before that, just about their experiences, and it helped make me realize how a monument like the Forrest County Confederate monument has such a negative impact on them,’ George said. Forrest County Board Attorney David Miller came before the council about the Confederate monument asking the council to consider allowing the county to move the statue to Oaklawn Cemetery and split the cost of the relocation if the people vote to do so. Councilwoman Deborah Delgado also mentioned a list of Confederate street names and symbols around the city her constituents have told her need to be renamed. Delgado said she will present them at the next council meeting.”
WITF, the NPR station in Harrisburg, PA, has a program called “Smart Talk.” A recent episode discussed reparations for systemic racism as well as confederate monuments and iconography. State Representative Christopher Rabb of Philadelphia introduced a bill in the state legislature regarding reparations, and he discusses the concept and his bill. Professor Scott Hancock, a historian at Gettysburg College, discusses confederate iconography. You can access the program here.
Available here is an episode of a radio program from Charlotte, NC called “Charlotte Talks” featuring Professor Hilary Green of the University of Alabama, Professor Karen Cox of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and Professor William Sturkey of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill discussing confederate monuments. The description reads, “On this edition of Charlotte Talks, we learn more about the history of the embattled statues, North Carolina’s selective memory on college campuses and elsewhere, and hear from experts of what the future of these kinds of memorials is.”
VPM in Richmond, which is their local NPR outlet, has this program featuring Adam Serwer of the Atlantic Magazine and Professor Julian Hayter of the University of Richmond discussing confederate iconography. The program’s description reads, “For as long as Richmond’s Jim Crow-era Confederate monuments existed, there have been calls for removal. During last week’s national protests against police brutality, those calls were answered when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the impending removal of the Lee Monument, the most prominent, state-owned statue on Monument Avenue. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also committed to the removal of the remaining city-owned Confederate statues lining the avenue. In the meantime, citizens took matters into their own hands—tearing down two Confederate statues as well as a Christopher Columbus statue. How did the monuments to the Lost Cause come to be and how did politicians and public opinion shift towards supporting their removal?” You can access the program here.
Professor Joseph Coohill, aka “Professor Buzzkill” has an episode of his podcast devoted to confederate monuments, which you can hear at this site.
We also have some additional articles covering the renaming of U.S. Army bases.
Let’s start with this article: “What’s the argument for changing the bases’ names? On the most basic level, military historians say, Confederates were disloyal. ‘I do not think it morally defensible that any U.S. soldier, regardless of region, race, creed, or gender should be forced to serve on a base named for a self-proclaimed enemy of the United States who was directly responsible for killing thousands of their comrades,’ said Brian McAllister Linn, a Texas A&M historian and author of ‘The Echo of Battle: The Army’s Way of War.’ [Professor Lance] Janda [of Cameron University] agreed. ‘I have never understood naming the bases after traitors, men who betrayed their country and bore arms against the United States,’ he said. ‘The men for whom all 10 bases were named have that in common.’ On a more practical level, people of color account for a disproportionate percentage of the present-day military, so having bases named after defenders of the Confederacy, and slavery, shows a particular brand of insensitivity. ‘It’s something I think white people are not as sensitive to — how much of an insult this is,’ said Richard Kohn, a University of North Carolina historian and author of ‘Military Laws of the United States, from the Civil War through the War Powers Act of 1973.’ ‘It’s time to move on.’ Confederates, [Professor David] Silbey [of Cornell University] said, ‘fought to protect an utterly repugnant system that enslaved millions of Americans in the worst kind of horror. We can remember that history without honoring that history.’ That said, it’s important to make changes within a context of educating service members about the reasons, [Professor Gregory] Urwin [of Temple University] said. ‘A disproportionate number of service personnel are whites from the South and other rural areas of the U.S.,’ Urwin said. ‘I doubt that most of them know much about the people for whom most Army posts are named. Nevertheless, name changes should be accompanied by thorough education sessions that demonstrate the changes are consistent with current Army values.’ WIthout such precautions, he said, ‘you could foster considerable resentment and encourage the rise of an underground neo-Confederate cult.’ ” The article also includes suggested names for the bases.
Giving us some comic relief, we have this article featuring the buffoon Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. The article says, “A Senate amendment to remove the names of Confederate leaders on military property ‘picks on the South unfairly,’ a GOP senator said Tuesday, the latest sign that President Donald Trump’s opposition to the plan has opened up an uncomfortable election-year debate within the party. Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican whose state has military installations named after leaders of the Confederacy, sharply criticized the amendment, offered by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and said he planned to offer his own measure ‘to rename every military installation in the country after a medal of honor winner.’ ‘I think history will show that in the 18th century, in the 19th century, and well into the 20th century, there were many non-Confederate generals, soldiers and others, in both the South and the North who practiced racial discrimination, anti-Semitism and misogyny,’ Kennedy told reporters. ‘I don’t think we ought to just pick on the South.’ Kennedy added: ‘Sen. Warren’s amendment, in my opinion, picks on the South unfairly.’ Kennedy’s comments come amid an election-year debate that has forced Republicans to stake out their positions as protests over racial injustice are taking place across the country. A number of Republicans have little appetite to be seen as defending the Confederacy, despite Trump’s call for GOP senators to fall in line and kill the Warren amendment, which was added to a bipartisan defense policy bill with the support of senators from both parties. The amendment, which would call for the removal of Confederate names from military assets, whether it’s a base, a plane or a piece of equipment, establishes a commission to come up with a detailed plan to change the names within three years. Trump last week tweeted his strong opposition to the plan, saying the names on the bases have “become part of a Great American Heritage” and adding: ‘Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with.” He added: “Hopefully, our great Republican Senators won’t fall for this.’ But Republican leaders acknowledged Tuesday that the language will likely survive in the bill, given that it would take 60 votes to strip it out on the floor and there are a sizable number of Republicans who likely will join the 47 Democrats to keep the provisions in tact. That means Trump lacks the votes to remove the language, increasing the likelihood that the annual defense measure will land on his desk with the provisions — even as the White House has threatened to veto the plan over it. ‘I am not wedded to the idea that those names on those military installations are eternal,’ Senate Majority Whip John Thune, a Republican of South Dakota, told reporters Tuesday. ‘I think you can reevaluate, considering timing and circumstances, and where we are in the country, who we want to revere by naming military installations or other national monuments. So, I think periodically you have to take a look at that and in this case, it’s perhaps time to do it. ‘ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also signaled Tuesday that he has no objection to the measure becoming law, saying: ‘Whatever is ultimately decided, I don’t have a problem with.’ McConnell noted that his father, a World War II veteran, worked for a couple years at Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, and that ‘none of us knew who Gordon was,’ referring to the base being named after a Confederate leader. ‘And I can only speak for myself on this issue: If it’s appropriate to take another look at these names, I’m personally OK with that,’ said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. ‘And I am a descendant of a Confederate veteran myself.’ Indeed, few Senate Republicans have embraced Trump’s rhetoric, with many declining to comment and others sidestepping the issue altogether. Republicans in difficult races are split as well, with Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst backing the plan, while Georgia Sen. David Perdue and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis signaling their opposition to it.”
Kennedy is obviously an idiot. He doesn’t realize confederates committed treason against the United States and fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy. He also doesn’t care the African American population of the South opposes the confederacy, and he doesn’t know or care that there were thousands of southern Unionists at the time. Additionally, these men were honored specifically because they fought for the confederacy–committing treason for the purpose of protecting and preserving slavery and white supremacy. He may find other individuals who have various vices, but they were not honored for those vices, unlike the confederate officers.
Finally, the “Professor Buzzkiller” podcast has an episode on the Army bases featuring BG Ty Seidule [US Army, Ret.]. You can access that episode here.
- Howitzer Confederate statue. (Source: NBC12)