NSU Writers: Memory Without Glory

By Whitney Crooks, NSU Student

NSU Writer Whitney

 

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.

Works Cited

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

5 thoughts on “NSU Writers: Memory Without Glory

  1. These words and comments deserve note of the realivities our current times. Let’s move along and make things better for all folks

  2. My 3rd great-grandfather was removed from office in that election, J. R. Hornsby, Justice of the Peace to Natchitoches (1868-1878), Republican. November 1876 refers to the election of Governor Nicholls, a Democrat. If you really want ‘success’ you will place me back on my throne. The problem is not the statue, it is the people who would remove it for unwarranted political prestige. The same people who put them up. The statue both teaches and acts as historical evidence. God knows I want to change it. In other words, render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

  3. Without context, the fact of slavery condemns us. With context, we see that every society on earth has practiced some form of slavery. It is the rule, not the exception. Africans enslaved and sold other Africans to the British and the Portuguese. American Indians owned slaves, both Indian and African. Why did we practice slavery in the United States for less than 100 years when it was practiced for millennia in the rest of the world? Because Enlightenment thinking led us to see slavery as a gross violation of the rights of man. It was the West that first abolished slavery: Britain in 1807, France in 1848, and the United States in 1862. The African country of Mauritania did not outlaw slavery until 1984.

    Without context, the fact of Jim Crow and segregation condemn us. With context, we see that we had a Civil Rights Movement only because we have a fundamental belief in our ability to reason our way forward to a better future. When televised images of fire hoses and attack dogs trained on helpless black youth in the South reached greater America, Americans began to resist the degradation of legal racism. We saw where we were wrong and took substantive steps to correct it. Today, there is no legal racism of any kind in our society. Today, civil rights for every American are such a given that we take them for granted.

    In the East and Middle East where those rights exist, they are tenuous at best. Women in late 20th century Afghanistan lived modern lives of independence, education, and self-governance. When the Taliban came to power, they were made to veil themselves completely and ask permission to leave the home. This is excerpted from : Nothing to Apologize For: The Truth About Western Civilization by Donna Carol Voss.
    History should remain – should be in our faces, not hidden or rewritten. We’ve become a complaining, disparaging, negative country, not recognizing the “good” USA. A glimpse of a monument with an offensive context to the viewer should be empowering knowing how hard this nation has worked to correct it’s path. Hiding history is a “slippery slope” that should be avoided.

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