Confederate Monuments Aren’t About Heritage

Supposedly, Confederate monuments and symbols of the Confederacy represent the culture and heritage of certain people. In defending white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president of the United States made this argument. Alright, well let’s run with that argument. Yes, let’s look at the endangered heritage and culture of which they speak. Uh-huh, let’s take a look at the incessant desire to worship the ain’t-shitness of white folk. And while we’re at it, as you read this, try to remember that many of the Confederate monuments we see today, were erected during the Jim Crow era. It’s important to note that many of them were built to intimidate black folks. The construction of Confederate monuments peaked in the 1910s and 1920s, when states were enacting Jim Crow laws, and later in the 1950s and 1960s, amid the Civil Rights Movement.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from The Week:

… upticks in the construction of Confederate monuments on courthouse grounds after the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 upheld state segregation laws. The construction of monuments outside of schools jumped after the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, in which the Supreme Court deemed state laws segregating public schools to be unconstitutional.

Shortly after the Civil War ended, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee argued against erecting Civil War monuments, which he warned would “keep open the sores of war” instead of helping to “obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

Since the Confederate flag and all Confederate monuments are about heritage and culture and have nothing to do with slavery or the treasonous acts of thousands of men. Why then aren’t there monuments and statues honoring King George of England? Why then isn’t the British flag being flown in parks and state government buildings here in the United States? Oh, that’s right, the British got their asses kicked, and we don’t fly the flag of losers. But… But.. But, aren’t the British are y’all’s cousins?

Here’s what Donald Trump said in defense of the melee in Charlottesville:

Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. You take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you are not.

Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

Where are the arguments to support the erecting of monuments to honor the lives of the many Britsh soldiers that died during the Revolutionary War? Aren’t those brave men part of your heritage and culture? They damn sure aren’t a part of my heritage and culture given that I’m the descendant of slaves. Yes, those are your people. They were not mine. My people? Again, they were slaves. And guess what? You might find this shocking, but the Civil War was about slavery. Yes, and the people who lost the war – the Confederate Army – fought for the right to secede from the United States. Why? They did this for the sole purpose of keeping people who look like me – you know, my people – enslaved, all the while keeping you poor.

Confederate Monuments Celebrate White Supremacy

To be white and argue in defense of Confederate monuments and symbols says a lot about you. No, it’s not necessarily that you’re racists. It’s that you’re the descendant of what the wealthy white elites considered “poor white trash” during slavery. It was wealthy white elites who coined the term “cracker” to describe poor white folks who weren’t allowed to vote. You know, the mostly illiterate white folks who were just a step up from slaves. Ostensibly, any defense of these symbols and monuments reinforces this notion. It says that while you come from “poor white trash,” at least you weren’t slaves. Yes, you come from poor non-slave-owning white folks, but yet, you were somebody. White trash, yes. Enslaved “niggers” on the other hand? No.

This heritage, my friends, is your legacy, and the culture you’re defending. You’re sadly defending the indefensible. In doing so, you’re fighting to preserve longstanding cultural signposts of ain’t-shitness in the context of whiteness. After all, your ancestors took up arms to defend the right of the South to continue slavery. And by extension, to also ensure your preservation of identity on the lowest rung of the ladder of whiteness. The irony here is that in arguing the conservation of these monuments and symbols, black people are told that we were never slaves. As a result, these monuments should not offend us. Well, most of you never owned slaves, so why revere symbols that honor men who fought to keep slavery alive?

To me, it’s sad that as a white person you the Confederacy is a significant cultural marker. But yet, black people are supposed to get over slavery. I imagine a lot of individuals who look like me would love nothing more than to get over it. Unfortunately, however, many white folks in America are emotionally invested in the maintenance of white supremacy, and all that unearned privilege that comes with it.

Confederate Monuments Celebrates Losers

I can’t imagine the losing Super Bowl team having a ticker tape parade, ever. That’s what I see when I see people championing the preservation of relics and symbols of the Confederacy. You lost. It’s long been over. Go the fuck home. Have a good cry while drinking a beer. After which, have sex with your sister-cousin like always. For Christ sake, give it a rest. If a Confederate monument as a historical signpost is necessary for you, I can only assume that you can’t read. Because, last time I checked, history is recorded in books. Oh yeah, they exist. You may have heard of them, right? Yes, I’m pretty sure there is a building where you live where thousands of books are available for reading upon request. Might I suggest you taking time to visit a library?

The irony of this is that some of the same Americans crying in opposition to the removal of Confederate monuments were once cheering when the Berlin Wall came down. Some of them I imagine have relatives who served in the Iraq war and cheered loudly when the Sadaam Hussien statue in Baghdad was pulled down. You know, because of freedom. Yet, somehow, like the current opioid crisis, white supremacy is a tough drug to shake. It is particularly true when you’ve been led to believe that the freedom enjoyed by black folks is a threat to whiteness. So yeah, it’s either you can’t read, or you’re racist. Either way, it’s deplorable. Whatever you do, don’t be both. Yes, being illiterate and racist sucks.

Removing Confederate Monuments Will Never Rewrite History

Removing Confederate monuments in no way rewrites history or erases one’s culture. It doesn’t change what has already happened. Which could be the very reason they call it history. I’m sorry, but to rewrite history, you’ll have to get Doc Brown, Michael J. Fox, and a DeLorean to make that happen. Well, either that or you can get HBO to create s new series titled Confederate set in an alternate reality where your racist-loser-ass-ancestors won the Civil War. As much as this idea may get you excited, it’s only fiction.

Removing Confederate monuments also doesn’t erase the perverse culture of white supremacy. Said culture has always existed, and will always continue to exist.However, eliminating those monuments nullifies the continued hero worship of men who fought to keep said ideology alive in shared public spaces. They belong in museums where anyone who wants to see them, can see them. They no longer belong in areas where our tax dollars go towards maintaining them for the sole purpose of worship by miscreants who see the Confederacy as part of their heritage, or as a symbol of racial dominance, ever.

To defend Confederate monuments is to be complicit in maintaining white supremacy.

Even Robert E. Lee warned against erecting Confederate monuments after the Civil War.