By Whitney Crooks, NSU Student
If one claims to not be racially biased, why would one support representation of those that were? Supporting confederate monuments is not equivalent to supporting southern heritage. The actions of the men that these monuments depict are in no way noble or to be honored. They stood for a fight in which the effort was to not only continue denying an entire people their basic human rights, but to also enslave them and profit from the production of that enslavement.
Misidentifications of the causes of the Civil War was brought about by an intellectual and literary movement following the Civil War referred to as The Lost Cause. This movement, that still permeates the South today, is a carefully constructed narrative that has layered Southern history with falsehoods. A few ideologies that made up this movement were that the slave owners were exposing the African “savages” to Christianity and the war was a just cause in the eyes of God, according to Karen L. Cox of the University of Alabama. It was also believed, and still is in some cases, that the motivation for the Civil War was “state’s rights” and rejection of the federal system.
Continued enforcement of some ideals of The Lost Cause is a major factor in the current fight to keep confederate monuments erected in easily accessible areas. According to BBC News, Confederate monuments were not publicly displayed until the turn of the century, when southern states began to enact Jim Crow laws that deprived recently freed slaves of equal rights. In the 1950-1960’s, as civil rights campaigners demanded equal rights and desegregation, there was another wave of the monuments. The timing of these surges in public display of confederate monuments show that they were erected in an effort to remind African-Americans of their past and their false inferiority. Although the erectors of the monuments failed in the task of breaking the spirit of the people they so desperately wanted to break, these reminders still evoke terrible thoughts such as the circumstances their ancestors endured in the name of profit.
No human being should be made to feel uncomfortable by something easily viewed in public because of the color of their skin and/or their ethnicity. A way that one could understand this would be to attempt to put themselves in that situation and see how it alters their view on their social standing in the country. The result of this experiment will most likely not be positive.
A successful country must have citizens that are capable of being empathetic and willing to take into consideration the experiences of others that are not like them. A solution that would be beneficial to all Americans would be displaying the monuments in a museum. This is the best idea because museums are intended for education and are upheld to a standard of great honesty, no matter how brutal. Citizens would have the option to view the monuments instead of being forced to.
These confederate monuments put a hindrance on America’s ability to move on from the ways of the past and look towards a future that is inclusive and collaborative. They must be taken out of public view as they serve as daunting reminders for the descendants of slaves and undue reinforcement for those who possess racist ideologies.
Bausum, Ann. “Fighting the Lost Cause.” Horn Book Magazine, vol. 93, no. 6, Nov/Dec2017,pp.
29-34. EBSCOhost. Northwestern State University, Watson Library. 8 Nov. 2017. Web
Cox, Karen L. “Lost Cause Ideology.” Encyclopedia of Alabama, www.encylopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1643.Web
“Why the fuss over Confederate statues?” BBC News, BBC, 17 Aug. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-uscanada-40966800