Why Should We Care About Confederate Statues?

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Many people have observed that Confederate memorials were mainly erected in defiance of progress towards civil rights for liberated slaves and their descendants. If so, this is exactly why they should remain. We do not build war memorials to celebrate war, but as a reminder of the tragic cost of war and a warning to future generations. Recent events make clear that we still need these warnings and reminders that violence will not heal our divisions and that silencing unpopular opinions through force will not bring peace.

The Civil War settled some things, but for a full century afterwards, Southern Democrats used political means where military means had failed to perpetuate a de facto state of bondage based on the color of people’s skin. Every monument to the vanquished military leaders is in truth also a monument to some politician who manipulated public opinion to prolong racial and sectional animosity. In this respect, I would like to believe these monuments now represent a double defeat–although perhaps, sadly, it is still too soon to say so.

By removing these memorials, we sanitize the history of the South as though the Civil War magically healed the nation, when in fact war does precisely the opposite. These memorials were built because a majority of the people in the South continued to hold racist and secessionist views–a fact which should give us pause about the wisdom of the majority. Just because something is popular does not mean it is right and just, and our Constitution provides checks on the power of the people–and of the states–for precisely this reason.

If the Republic is to persevere, we need to be reminded that oppression and persecutions are a significant and pernicious part of our history and that we must be vigilant in every generation. Democrats want to remove this history without taking the blame for it and without acknowledging the “soft bigotry of low expectations” that they perpetuate to this very day. The louder they clamor, and the more unpopular it becomes to oppose them (thanks to the despicable stunts of these hate-mongering fringe groups), the more they must be resisted.

That we are still having bloody disputes about these statues now is, to my mind, proof that they are still needed, because we still have not learned the lessons of history that they can teach us. These generals may be dead and gone, but people who share their hateful worldview are still with us. Instead of wrapping themselves in insular urban “safe spaces,” liberals need to be confronted with the reality that ugly and vile ideas still loom in plain sight, and furthermore, that violence will only perpetuate it for yet another century.

Removing statues is akin to suppressing the views of those with whom we disagree. Making ugly things go away from our immediate field of view may seem like a victory for a time, but forcing our opponents into hiding is not the same as conversion. All the memorials in the world to General Grant and General Sherman won’t change this fact, and every statue of General Lee that is destroyed will only confirm it. In a perfect world, every statue in the public square would be a saint, but we do not live in a perfect world. It is altogether fitting then that we preserve monuments to human folly and hubris, lest we think better of ourselves than we truly deserve.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

Joshua Bowman joined in full communion with the Catholic Church in 2010 after many years in the spiritual wilderness. He recently moved back to his beloved native Virginia from Columbus, Ohio with his growing family and writes on religion, politics, history, and geographical curiosities.

95 Comments

  1. If the people who live where these statues are want them down, take them down-or leave them up.

    Don’t take them down because someone from out of town tells you how you should regard them.

    I’m having a difficult time figuring out why, now all of a sudden-Robert E. Lee, for instance suddenly became someone as of last Saturday that he always had been prior, even as late as last Friday.

    People are acting like they got sideswiped by some new revelations about Confederate historical figures and now they look at the person differently-a la the Bill Cosby thing or some such. “He isn’t who we thought he was”.

    Lee was always a Confederate general. Same as the other folks depicted in the statuary.

    • You do realize you’re echoing the same pro-slavery, anti-civil rights arguments of generations past, right? Nothing like some uppity blacks and Northerners trying to tell the South how to live!

      Also, Robert E. Lee didn’t “suddenly [become] someone as of last Saturday.” People know who Robert E. Lee was. The problem is with political will and the power to do anything about it. Now the power’s switched sides, and anti-racists are gaining the upper hand. Change is coming.

    • Robert Alexander on

      Many of the people who live down South are not, in fact, native Southerners. Many are snow birds and transplants who could no longer rough it in regions with four seasons.

  2. If what you write is true – that Confederate war statues are useful reminders of America’s racist past, and that we need reminders of this past – then what exactly were the Nazis and KKK doing at the Unite the Right rally on Friday in Charlottesville?  Are we really to believe that they were seeking to protect these statues to ensure that we all solemnly remember the evils of America’s racist past?

    Rather than these statues serving as a reminder to today’s Nazis and white supremacists about the wrongs of racial discrimination in this country – the very people who would need to hear the meaning of the statues that you claim they have – the Lee statue in Charlottesville served as a rallying point for the worst elements of our society.

    Who are the statues a reminder to then?  Besides your ridiculous claims about liberals (we get it, you hate liberals), it would appear that the statues aren’t serving the purpose you claim they do.

    Which begs another question:  have you factored in how Americans who are Black view Confederate war statues and memorials that serve as rallying points for Nazis, KKK and White supremacists?  I will not speak for those who are Black, for I have not walked a day in their shoes.  Those who I know who are Black pretty much echo the same sentiment:  if these statues were truly about remembering the war, or the legacy of discrimination, or America’s history, or whatever other sentiment you want to throw out there, then Nazis and White supremacists wouldn’t be throwing torch-light rallies like at Nuremberg or America in the 20th century, because the agenda of White supremacists and Nazis has very little to do with Civil War remembrances or, as the President said, “cherishing our history.”  Similarly, the actions of White supremacists and Nazis have nothing to do with memorializing past racial discrimination for solemn remembrance in the future.  And so their question, quite logically is, why do we seek to preserve public reminders of the type of future (not past) that Nazis, KKK and White supremacists seek to build?

  3. Haha, you overshot this one juuuuuuust a bit. Don’t you know the correct GOP lapdog response is to put out a tepid statement saying you’re against racism, and then quietly return to implementing racist policies? Here’s a quick lesson: If you still find yourself on the same side as the Klan (while attempting to take the high ground, at that), you should probably rethink your opinion.

    We get it: white supremacists are too valuable to the conservative coalition to take meaningful action. So kudos for taking one for the team, but I am most amused by your distortion of basic logic and reason to arrive at your position.

    “We do not build war memorials to celebrate war, but as a reminder of the tragic cost of war.”

    The inscription on the Lee and Jackson Monument in Baltimore read: “THEY WERE GREAT GENERALS AND CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS AND WAGED WAR LIKE GENTLEMEN.” Tell me how that’s a helpful reminder of the tragic cost of war.

    “…silencing unpopular opinions through force will not bring peace.”

    We’re talking about actual Nazis here. Homegrown, American Nazis. Try lecturing some WWII vets and let me know what they say.

    “…for a full century afterwards, Southern Democrats used political means where military means had failed to perpetuate a de facto state of bondage…”

    History of Civil Rights, by Republicans: Lincoln was a Republican, Southern Democrats were racist, then nothing else happened and history stopped in 1954.

    “I would like to believe these monuments now represent a double defeat.”

    Here’s where the rest of that history lesson gets interesting. Those racist Southern Democrats inexplicably migrated into the GOP once the Civil Rights Movement began. Read a book. They’re becoming more popular because of all the people who previously got their history lessons from statues in the park.

    “By removing these memorials, we sanitize the history of the South.”

    I’m going to say this slowly. The. Memorials. Themselves. Sanitize. History.

    “These memorials were built because a majority of the people in the South continued to hold racist and secessionist views — a fact which should give us pause about the wisdom of the majority.

    Just so we’re clear, the majority of the South used to be racist, which was wrong, so now that the whole country is trying to get it to change, we should be wary because majorities have been wrong before?

    “Just because something is popular does not mean it is right and just…”

    Yes, Confederate memorials are very popular among racists. Less so among non-racists. What can we do?!

    “Democrats want to remove this history…”

    If by “Democrats,” you mean the non-racists who oppose these monuments because of their glorification of treason and oppression, and by “remove this history,” you mean change how we remember history, then you’re correct.

    “…without taking the blame for it…”

    You want to take the blame for GOP racism in the modern era?

    “The louder they clamor, and the more unpopular it becomes to oppose them…the more they must be resisted.”

    Read: I don’t really want to side with racists, but liberals are so loud about anti-racism (and really unpopular with actual racists).

    “…we still have not learned the lessons of history…”

    Look, for a moment I’ll pretend that you’re sincere. If you really want to ensure people learn the lessons of history, don’t you want a truthful accounting of that history? Put up a memorial to the victims of slavery. Put up a memorial to abolitionists. Put up a memorial to Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and Nat Turner. Why such a lack of imagination?

    “…liberals need to be confronted with the reality that ugly and vile ideas still loom in plain sight…”

    You’re joking right? Believe me, we don’t need any more reminders, thanks. With a racist president, cowardly GOP leadership, and “Catholic” websites providing cover for white supremacy, we see the vileness every single day.

    The only good that is coming from this collective experience is that the country is seeing very clearly where conservatives stand. Your ideological forebears were wrong about everything regarding race, so why should your generation be any different?

    • John Flaherty on

      I do find these efforts to tear down statues of Robert E Lee quite ignorant and ironic. If one bothers to learn history, we find that Lee opposed both slavery and secession. Jefferson Davis also opposed slavery. Were I to listen to diatribes like the above, I would not learn this.
      If you consider these statues to “sanitize” history, I find the intent to tear them down to be equally diabolical. I have long felt most intentions like these to reek of the same racism that we’re all supposed to condemn

      • Speaking of sanitizing history:
        1. While Davis spoke of opposition to slavery, is there an record of using his executive powers as president to address slavery? Did Davis not do everything in his power to maintain the cotton trade with foreign nations?
        2. Lee opposed secession before it happened. After it happened, are we really to bury our heads in the sand by thinking that he opposed secession by leading the Confederate Army?

        By selectively pointing out only historical facts that support your argument, it seems you are.. sanitizing history.

      • LOL.
        Are you the son of a Confederate veteran or something?
        I suppose you think the heroes are those who fought against the “zealots in the North [creating] much agitation by demands for the abolition of slavery.” That’s from your buddy, Jeff Davis, history’s only example of a man so opposed to slavery that he led a government devoted to it. Hahaha.

        • John Flaherty on

          I think you would be well advised to learn your history in greater depth. Davis agreed to Preside in the South because he felt the North had become too aggressive, too callous about the economic consequences of a sudden change in how things worked. We focus too much on hating slavery these days to recognize the severity of the change away from holding slaves. We see judgement having been cast, we don’t bother remembering that the innocent and guilty alike suffered greatly.

          • Yeah, Davis presided in the South because he felt the North had become too aggressive…in its quest to free the slaves. Really making your point about how he was so anti-slavery.

            Gee, whiz, he really wanted to free the slaves, but he was just too concerned with wealthy white landowners who profited for generations from slave labor!

            Do you honestly believe these arguments? At first I thought you were just joking, but you’re a real neo-Confederate, aren’t you?

    • I do think that this whole “statues thing” will help the Democrats. The unpleasant vestiges of their past will be torn down.

      Reminds me of the joke I heard after the election where the Democrats haven’t been this upset since Lincoln made them free their slaves.

      • Hysterical. You sound like Rand Paul trying to lecture on black history at HBCUs.
        You know political parties evolve over time, right? Like how the Party of Lincoln just elected a racist with Confederate sympathies. Conservatives could be on the right side of a race-based issue for once, but would rather be seen standing with the Klan than a liberal!

          • Anything to distract from today’s GOP, right? Ignore it all you want. You have no moral authority here. We can go all day, son.

          • Today’s GOP didn’t litter the landscape with statues of Confederates, AP.

            That was a Democrat exercise.

        • For the Democrats to be going all torches and pitchforks on this is like your neighbor telling you that his dog crapped in your yard yesterday and when he walked by today he noticed you hadn’t cleaned it up yet.

          Unreal.

          • HAHAHA.

            We’ll just ignore the fact that “Unite the Right,” didn’t just literally march with through the streets with torches. I used to think you were the thoughtful right-winger on this site. Guess not.

          • I wasn’t speaking of the WS groups.

            You did, but I read the news. I know what happened.

            What does that have to do with this, other then a knee-jerk virtue signaling exercise?

      • Honestly, I’m amazed at your interpretation of a Nazi rally. Truly amazing. What were the Nazis doing, just randomly marching for no reason around a random statue? Clearly the Nazis were supporting the Democratic party and oppose Trump!

  4. John Flaherty on

    If I do not believe in the inherent superiority of the white man over the black man, Hispanic, or Indian, neither do I believe the white man to be solely capable of racist attitudes or hate. If anything, I find all men to be capable of hatred and acting according to such vice. That being the case, I have long considered most minorities to be guilty of the same racist intentions as the alleged “alt-right”. Sadly, I think events last weekend mostly proved that race wars have never truthfully ceased.
    Tearing down Confederate statues mostly proves an inability to be reconciled with past.

    • What groups were assembled in Charlottesville proposing the reduction of legal rights of White people, Christians, heterosexuals, etc.? I’m looking for specific groups and their specific policies.

      • Those of Charlottesville–and elsewhere–who aim to tear down Confederate monuments do, themselves, violate others’ First Amendment rights of free speech. They so act based on racist motives, not a desire for justice.

        • The person who put up the statue is dead. How is his the to freedom of speech being violated if he’s dead?
          Also, when the statue went up, residents (Black people) legally had no say. You may have heard of Jim Crow laws. What freedom of speech did they have?
          Finally, the statue and the property were donated to the city. Do the residents of the city and their elected representatives have the right to decide how their own public space is used, or no?

          • John Flaherty on

            I have heard no reports to indicate that white people of Charlottesville approved removing the statue. They are not dead yet and possess freedom of speech too.

      • ROFL! “I’m not a minority racist, I just think all white people ought to be publicly damned if they oppose the minority point of view.”

        • Haha, you assume that I must be a minority because I’m not a Lost Cause defender?

          See here’s the thing. When you write something trashy like “I have long considered most minorities to be guilty of the same racist intentions of the alleged ‘alt-right,’ uhhhh, that’s when you’re supposed to know that you’re racist, just FYI.

          • John Flaherty on

            If you can assume me a white supremacist, AP, I can equally assume you a minority racist.
            As to the other, don’t forget that “racism” refers to the belief in the superiority of one’s own race. Tearing down a statue because he didn’t advance your race persuades me you have little regard for other peoples.

  5. Given that liberals are stupid and need statues to remind them that bigotry exists, what direct actions are very smart conservatives taking to address Nazis and White supremacists? After all, you smart conservatives don’t need these statues like the rest of us idiots.
    Your website hasn’t said a word about Trump’s “both sides” speeches. You haven’t said a word about the hundreds of Republicans in Congress who haven’t said a word about Trump, either. You didn’t say anything when he named Bannon, Gorka and Miller to his staff. You didn’t say a word when he called Mexicans rapists and murderers and refugees animals. When he slandered a judge if Mexican descent, what actions did you take?

  6. John Flaherty – can you share your reports regarding all the Black people who had a say when the statue went up? You know, that whole freedom of speech thing?

    • John Flaherty on

      That might be an interesting historical study Anna: When these statues were erected, what DID the black people–or white–do or say?
      Don’t waste effort on the usual diatribe against the evil, racist, white guy. I’ve heard that far too many times. I think if one reads history, also historical fiction, one finds a much more complex chain of events and views.

      • Your argument is absurd. First, stop making claims for me. I didn’t call anyone racist. The only one who has is you. I obviously addressed the non-free speech rights of Black people during Jim Crow.
        Second, you declare the history of White been like Davis and Lee to be firmly established – by you. Yet anyone else who tries to bring up historical facts like Jim Crow is told that history is complex, don’t draw conclusions.
        In other words, only you are right, because you said so.
        Only at a “Catholic” website will you get a dispute as to whether Jim Crow was alive and well in VIRGINIA in the 1920’s.
        On the record: you will clearly state there was no barrier to Black people voting in Charlottesville in the 1920’s.

        • John Flaherty on

          Tearing down statues today because you insist they solely reflect Jim Crow does not reflect a concern for mutually recognized dignity of men. If anything, acting thus and shouting “RACIST!” at anyone who opposes you mostly inspires hatred.

  7. John Flaherty,

    I feel like I need to speak very slowly with you. See if you can follow along.

    I. Am. Not. A. Minority.
    I. Am. White.
    Despite. Being. White. I. Still. Believe. In. Equality.

    Get it?

    Now furthermore, you can say all you want that you don’t believe in white supremacy, but if you make racist comments, people will rightfully call you out for being a racist. See how that works?

    • John Flaherty on

      “…but if you make racist comments, people will rightfully call you out for being a racist.”

      *chuckles* I’ve been called a racist many times, AP. Mostly, I’ve been branded this why by black or Hispanic people who despise the idea that I might challenge their “right” to define racism. Equality does not come from tearing down statues that you loathe. Genuine equality comes from treating people according to their dignity as human beings. If you consider these actions to seek equality, I think we have nothing further to discuss. We can’t reach an accord when you insist on promoting my idea of false premises.

      • “I’ve been called a racist many times.”
        Haha, why does that not surprise me?
        “Mostly I’ve been branded this why [sic] by black or Hispanic people…”
        Outrageous! Don’t those people know their place?
        “who despise the idea that I might challenge their ‘right’ to define racism”
        Here’s a guess: maybe people who have actually been marginalized by racism in this country have a better understanding than you. But please proceed.
        “Equality does not come from tearing down statues that you loathe.”
        Right. Equality comes from maintaining symbols of intimidation displayed prominently in public areas.
        “Genuine equality comes from treating people according to their dignity as human beings.”
        LOL, who said this “I have long considered most minorities to be guilty of the same racist intentions as the alleged ‘alt-right.'”? I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t Jefferson Davis.
        “We can’t reach an accord when you insist on promoting my idea of false premises.”
        So if people disagree with your worldview, you can’t reach an understanding? What’s the point of discussing anything then? Also, if “promoting my idea of false premises” means not taking up the mantle of the Lost Cause, then yeah we might be at a crossroads here!

        • “Equality comes from maintaining symbols of intimidation displayed prominently in public areas.”

          I think it rather obvious that I–and many others–dispute this claim. We do not define statues as symbols of intimidation based on your say-so.

          “…maybe people who have actually been marginalized by racism in this country have a better understanding than you. But please proceed.”

          Given that I am 3/4 Irish, I think it quite likely that many of my ancestors suffered persecution in the North. I notice such sufferings are never addressed by these tirades against racism. My ancestors persevered. I have no interest in fussing over someone who insists on playing the victim.

          “So if people disagree with your worldview, you can’t reach an understanding?”

          It does not appear that the worldview you seem to promote allows for dissent. No, I can’t reach an understanding with someone who promotes a view in error.

          • “We do not define statues as symbols of intimidation.”
            Haha, we know YOU don’t. The historical records shows otherwise. And you don’t get to dictate how other people perceive certain actions, particularly those victimized by that very intimidation. Do you not see the problem with a white man who thinks he can lecture black people about how they’re supposed to feel about racism?

            “Given that I am 3/4 Irish…”
            HAHAHA, seriously? Yeah, I’m guessing you’re not the foremost expert on racism then. Not even full Irish?

            “I think it quite likely that my ancestors suffered persecution in the North.”
            Yeah, it’s possible. Maybe. More likely if you were full Irish! 😉

            “I notice such sufferings are never addressed by these tirades against racism.”
            Because rampant discrimination against 3/4 Irish-Americans doesn’t exist anymore. If it did, we’d be discussing that.

            “My ancestors persevered.”
            Terrific! Your ancestors were also helped by the fact that Irish people became seen as whites over time, thus were widely accepted in a way that other minorities are not. Many members of minority groups persevere too, despite that discrimination. Minorities persevering has no bearing on whether we should keep honoring the victimizers.

            “I have no interest in fussing over someone who insists on playing the victim.”
            My guess is that you think anytime someone mentions racism or calls it out (unless it’s a white guy claiming reverse racism), they’re “playing the victim.”

            “I can’t reach an understanding with someone who promotes a view in error.”
            You can’t identify any errors I’ve made. It’s just that you don’t like history that contradicts your insular worldview.

  8. John Flaherty on

    “Do you honestly believe these arguments? At first I thought you were just joking, but you’re a real neo-Confederate, aren’t you?”

    I doubt the neo-Confederates would accept me, AP. My Catholic ideals would tend to clash considerably with strongly Protestant views. I’d be drummed out very quickly, I think. No, I think I don’t fit very well with either neo-Confederates, nor Antifa. I’ll just have to muddle along as a citizen.

    • No, they wouldn’t care about your Catholic ideals as long as you’re promoting their cause. Trust me, from your comments here, you’d fit in very well with them, as long as you stick to race-based issues. You might not rise that high in leadership, but you could still have a promising career! 🙂

  9. One last thought (I hope): One group demanding to tear down a statue, a second group arriving to scream against the first, and a third group arriving to denounce the second; none of these groups of people could be honestly said to be promoting human dignity.
    If anything, events like this mostly perpetuate the cycle of hatred.

  10. One last thought (I hope):
    Nazis, KKK, white supremacists, and their supporters march in American cities with torches while chanting Nazi slogans.
    Good American citizens of all races come out to oppose them.
    A white supremacist terrorist drives a van into a crowd, killing one and injuring 19 others.
    Conservatives blame minorities for “playing the race card” and fussing too much about racism.

  11. Yeah I don’t think violence is the answer, so you’re not proving anything.
    There is no moral equivalence between Nazis and counter protestors. None.
    You may not be personally racist, but you’re providing cover for white supremacists. Just saying.

    • Well, no I’m not.

      One side of the street or the other, AP.

      People who use violence to enforce their point don’t come to the table with clean hands.

      • Oh I’ve chosen my side, believe me. I’d rather stand ANYWHERE than alongside the Nazis. Apparently that’s hard for conservatives to say definitively. Its pathetic.

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        And clearly, everyone who was protesting the Nazis was acting violently.
        Are you even paying attention to current events?

  12. The author does need to learn truthful history, not the deception taught by CNN and MSNBC. Even the educated left knows “The south did not fight for the preservation or the extension of slavery, or to stop its abolition.” They know the Civil War was not about slavery and even Abraham Lincoln said. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”. “My sole purpose is to save the Union.”
    Thus since the reason we are removing Confederate Monuments is because the Souths’ aristocrats owned slaves; then we must remove all monuments, memorabilia, documents or work performed by any slave owner in our past. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. In fact Thomas Jefferson owned 187 slaves, which is more that Robert E. Lee and Jeff Davis combined.
    We must remove all memory of Washington and Jefferson. We must trash the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and all rights which come from them; as Jefferson and Washington, both slave owners, were the key figures in their construction and in the Revolutionary War. We must immediately pledge our loyalty as subjects of the United Kingdom, apologize to the Crown, and pay reparations for all taxes unpaid since 1776.
    Furthermore we must ban all political parties associated with slavery or the Jim Crow era. As we all know, The Democratic Party gave us both, thus we must immediately ban the party, remove all memory of it and arrest any members for hate speech who do not comply.
    And of course we must remove all remnants of memory of the great Abraham Lincoln, the icon of moral righteousness to the liberal. For surely you know that Lincoln hung fifty (50) American Indians for simply escaping from the Reservations. Or did you not know that, or not care cause it doesn’t fit the liberal deception.

    • Ryan Schroeder on

      Perhaps I missed it – could you point to where there were Nazis and White supremacists holding a torchlight rally around an Abraham Lincoln statue? A Washington statue? A Jefferson statue?
      Hopefully this will illustrate why your comparison doesn’t make sense.
      We’re talking about addressing a Nazi rally.
      Not sure why this is so hard.

  13. Hey James, how much money did you pay for David Barton’s history book? I’d ask for your money back if I were you.

    • Here’s History we can all agree on.

      The Democrats bitterly opposed civil rights for 100 years. The KKK was their arm. The opposed the 14 and 15th Amendments.

      A Klansman-an officer of that entity-has his name all over West Virginia.

      So, to correct this, we should abolish all vestiges of that party.

      You on board, AP?

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        Except no one is calling to “abolish” all vestiges of statues.
        We’re talking about statues and monuments in shared public spaces, and who makes the decisions about how our – yes, OUR – public spaces are used.
        But keep on putting words in people’s mouths, it’s apparently the only trick you have.

        • Democrats-who erected these things in public spaces to honor Democrats who took up arms to defend slavery for Democrats-are now “leading” here.

          That’s what’s idiotic about this.

          • What’s idiotic, Ram, is you can’t decide whether to defend Confederate statues (thereby standing with white supremacists), or argue they’re bad and try to blame Democrats for them. So you try to play both sides, but you’re left espousing this completely nonsensical argument that racist Democrats erected these monuments to racist Democrats, and now Democrats want to take them down, but Republicans (who totally aren’t racist!) like them for non-racist purposes, so they should stay up.
            I don’t think even you believe what you’re saying.

          • ” but you’re left espousing this completely nonsensical argument that racist Democrats erected these monuments to racist Democrats, and now Democrats want to take them down,”

            That’s true, not nonsensical.

            I’ve not listed one reason nor made any claim for keeping them up. They aren’t where I live.

          • Ryan Schroeder on

            Gosh, Ram, you are one knowledgeable fellow. Perhaps you can educate us – in your vast knowledge of history, can you tell us about Paul Goodloe McIntire’s involvement with the Democratic Party?

  14. Ram, you’re not proving anything. I get your talking points. You all repeat the same ones ad nauseam. I feel dumber having these conversations with people like you.

    If you want a remedial history lesson, yes, there used to be lots of racist Democrats. Once upon a time, there were conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Today? Not so much. What happened to change that? Those racist Democrats migrated into the Republican Party during and after the Civil Rights Movement, where they felt more at home, and where they remain to this day.

    You really need to put the Robert Byrd “gotcha” to bed. You “forgot” about how he later apologized and spent the final years of his life as a strong supporter for civil rights. Let that be a lesson to everyone: there’s still time to change. So what’s stopping you conservatives? You’d think you’d want to be on a winning side for once.

    • Once upon a time, Democrats owned slaves, and today you want their statues removed from the public square.

      Then, you lecture me about things changing, and that no one should pay attention to Democratic party history, since, well, they’re different now. Or something. Well, except the statues-those are offensive, but the Democratic party isn’t really attached to that. Or something.

      Robert E. Lee-no images of him should remain. Robert Byrd-false meme, since, well, he apologized after gaining office running as a Klansman, so that makes it OK that he actually WAS a KKK official. Or something. He doesn’t count, I guess.

      How do you think we feel after trying to sift through this rubble of an argument?

      • It’s funny, I was literally just telling someone how easy it is arguing with conservatives. Five minutes in: “Robert Byrd! Gotcha!”

        To your first point: Yes…and? What’s your point?

        2) You feel “lectured” because like all conservatives, the history you acknowledge conspicuously ends right before Republicans became the preferred home for white supremacists. I’ll say it again for you: conservatives we’re wrong then, and they’re wrong now. See, some things don’t change!
        3) Nobody ever said images of Lee shouldn’t exist. You sound ridiculous. We just think there are better people to HONOR than someone who led the fight against the good old USA.
        4) Everytime you say Robert Byrd I’m gonna remind you that the entire GOP elected in 2016 a known racist president with Confederate sympathies.
        5) You got any other softballs you want to lob my way? I’m enjoying this but to be honest, I expected more of you.

        • No Republican ever built a statue to slaver. So, there’s that. Run through the “GOP elected in 2016” and find me someone who directly. courted the KKK vote. That whole thing is simply projection on your part until you produce a name.

          You may ignore Byrd all you like, but if you do, your argument dissipates. There are three times more places/things named after Byrd than Saddam Hussein had named after himself in Iraq-including a statue of him in the US Capitol. A guy who filibustered the Civil Rights Act and opposed the Voting Rights Act. An actual RECORD of opposition to Civil Rights. vs., your projections upon the 2016 GOP. Hit that softball, Slugger.

          So, you do or do not believe that these statues should remain in public areas?

          • I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall here.

            Let me guess, you’re one of those who think that racists don’t exist unless you see them wearing white hoods. Am I right?

            I love that you’re hanging your whole argument on Robert Byrd! Yup, the dude had a terrible past. Thankfully, he put it behind him, tried to atone for his past, became a civil rights defender, and upon his death was honored as such by the NAACP and other prominent civil rights organizations. It’s very simple. What about that is hard for you to grasp?

            Regarding statues, if the conservative argument is that they are important reminders about a tragic time in our history, and can be used for educational purposes, I think the appropriate thing is to put some in museums where they can be displayed with helpful context. In their place, one might erect statues to the victims of slavery or abolitionists, or heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        What is so hard about this? In Charlottesville, a statue has become a rallying point for Nazis and White supremacists? Should the citizens of Charlottesville:

        1. Maintain the public rallying point for Nazis and White supremacists
        2. Address the fact that there is a public rallying point for Nazis and White supremacists in their community.

        Who is choosing 1?

        • Why allow Nazis and WS groups to dictate what happens?

          Suppose they met at the Courthouse? You wouldn’t remove that.

          • 1) They wouldn’t meet at the courthouse unless there’s a monument to white supremacy in front.
            2) By your logic, why do anything to stop the spread of white supremacy, because that will “allow Nazis and WS groups to dictate what happens”?
            3) Are you afraid your house will be seized the next time the Klan meets there?

          • There was a WS monument in Skokie?

            Missed that.

            Pulling down statues will stop the WS movement? Really?

            Wow. Who knew?

            #3 is pretty juvenile.

  15. I am just going through this thread today. All I see is Anna and AP dunking all over CV and conservatives who still somehow defend the presence of confederate statues. Kudos to both of you!

    • Then you aren’t reading very carefully, Sean.

      James wants the statues to stay; I am not concerned if they stay or go.

      I wish Anna or AP or you would tell us how ridding the landscape of the Democratic monuments to their fellow Democrats will help African-Americans today.

      Sounds very much like it’s helping Anna and AP with their virtue-signaling merit badges, but not so much helping anyone in a practical sense.

      Any thoughts?

      • John Flaherty on

        I think you raise a good point, Ram. This “virtue-signaling” you mention well describes attitudes I encountered during my undergrad years.
        I will simply say this: I might agree to removing Confederate statues IF those involved sought moral virtue. If I saw people learning about (and celebrating) others’ cultural values, if I saw emphasis on Judeo-Christian morals, especially Catholic, I might agree to removing statues. Sadly, I mostly, I see various minorities–and their supporters–intent on defining morals as they wish, destroying any dissent.
        In short, most efforts seem bent on inflicting the same inhuman mentality as those purported to be espoused by those depicted in the statues.

        • John Flaherty on

          Pardon my slip. That should be, “Sadly, I mostly see various minorities–and their supporters–intent on defining morals as they wish, destroying any dissent.”

          • Out of all that, THAT is what you beg our pardon for? A typo?!?! In a statement showcasing your bigotry, no less! Racism? Okay. But a TYPO?! Have you lost your mind?!

      • Ram, it’s a tiny, baby step bringing us closer to racial justice when we remove monuments dedicated to an ideology of white supremacy. Will it solve all our problems? Of course not. Do we wish we could do more? Certainly. Is it frustrating to work for racial justice while dragging conservatives along, kicking and screaming the whole way? You bet. But make no mistake. We will drag you into a more equitable future, one way or another.

        • Don’t make assumptions about me, please.

          Just because I do not agree on the “how” doesn’t mean I don’t agree on the fact that people should be helped.

          A little less hubris, if you please.

          • Believe me, I don’t get very much satisfaction from swatting down these debate attempts. Adults shouldn’t brag when they beat children in a game.

        • OK.

          Find me a black family who was lifted out of poverty or who’s kid got a better education because a statue got removed somewhere.

          All I’m seeing now is SJW’s beating their chests. I’d happily have this actually resolve real issues for people.

          • This one’s good.
            I know you’re trying to dig yourself out of a big hole here, so now you have to pretend that your opposition to removing monuments to white supremacy actually comes out of a heart-felt concern for minorities. But here’s the thing: kids WILL get a better education if they aren’t taught to think the Confederacy was a cause worth fighting for.

          • I don’t live near any of these monuments.

            The thing is that your virtue-signaling isn’t helping anything but your ample ego.

  16. Robert Alexander on

    I’ll say this, generally: if your family did not arrive in America until after the Civil War, then you have no business speaking about American history.

    • What if your family arrived in America before the Civil War, but you’re really, really dumb. Are you allowed to speak about American history?

  17. Ram,
    In response to your comments above:
    1) I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt by responding to the most rational interpretation of your argument. Nazis didn’t “meet” at the courthouse. That’s where the case took place. In a courthouse. That serves a vital purpose: upholding the Constitution. That’s why your hypothetical is absurd.
    2) There you go again — why do anything if it won’t instantly and single-handedly solve all our problems? Better to just dig our heels in, I guess.
    3) You’re right, that was juvenile. Because I feel like I’m talking to a child here.
    4) I don’t care if you don’t live near a Confederate monument, except it does make you seem a bit worse in retrospect, taking the Confederate side and such.
    4) Your repeated accusations about my “ample ego” and “virtue signaling,” mean nothing to me, except to show you’re like every other conservative who knows he’s lost the argument, so has to go after liberals for having an “ego” when they know they’re right. 🙂

    • “taking the Confederate side and such.”?

      I took that side?

      Don’t recall having done that. Do you “win” arguments when you have to invent your opponents argument?

    • “why do anything if it won’t instantly and single-handedly solve all our problems?”

      It doesn’t solve any problems.

      “1) I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt by responding to the most rational interpretation of your argument. Nazis didn’t “meet” at the courthouse. That’s where the case took place. In a courthouse. That serves a vital purpose: upholding the Constitution. That’s why your hypothetical is absurd.”

      The Skokie march wasn’t a hypothetical. It happened. The meeting place isn’t the problem. Confederates weren’t Nazis. They were white supremacists. The lady in VA got killed by a car. We aren’t (yet) proposing elimination of Dodge Challengers.

      • Ram,
        1) How can you expect to refute an argument if you can’t even make it to the end of a sentence?
        2) Again, it is a STEP toward solving a problem. It doesn’t “solve” it alone. This is what we can do if conservatives keep standing in the way of more meaningful change.
        3) Seeing as how the Confederate side is the one arguing in opposition to taking the monuments down, uh, yeah, that’s where you seem to be standing.
        4) It’s cute when you try to teach people about history, but I’ve been to Skokie. I’ve been to the Holocaust museum there.
        5) I was referring to your argument about getting rid of courthouses as a ridiculous hypothetical. Try to keep up.
        6) (This one made me smile) I was just thinking this is like arguing with a conservative about gun control. Are you going to ban cars? No, because cars serve an important purpose and aren’t designed to cause violence when operated correctly. Confederate monuments were erected to terrorize, and to honor white supremacists. That is their purpose.
        This is an apple. This is an orange.

  18. “4) It’s cute when you try to teach people about history, but I’ve been to Skokie. I’ve been to the Holocaust museum there.”

    The one that opened 21 years after the Nazi march I referred to? That one? Any other history lesson you have on deck?

    “3) Seeing as how the Confederate side is the one arguing in opposition to taking the monuments down, uh, yeah, that’s where you seem to be standing”

    Um, Confederate sympathizers aren’t the only people who think this statue thing is overblown, AP. Please. I said right off the bat I don’t care if the residents of these places keep them or get rid of them.

  19. 1) Uh, yeah, that one. Are you still trying to pretend that nobody knew about Nazis in Skokie? Adorable. Finish reading a post before trying to respond. You’ll do better.
    2) The museum opened in 1981, four years after the Skokie Affair. The new building opened in 2009. Don’t know where you got 21 years, but I guess math can be just as hard as history.
    3) I don’t have any history lessons “on deck,” because I don’t care about your ignorance, but when conservatives insist on distorting the historical record, I feel some obligation to correct them.
    4) LOL. “I said right off the bat I don’t care if the residents of these places keep them or get rid of them.” Here’s what you said: “Don’t take them down because someone from out of town tells you how you should regard them.” Aaaaaaand we’ve come full circle. “Don’t free the slaves just because someone from out of town tells you how you should regard them.” “Don’t integrate public schools just because someone from out of town tells you how you should regard them.” “Don’t take down Confederate monuments just because someone from out of town tells you how you should regard them.” Notice any similarities here?

    • Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I’m still not promoting retention of the statues.

      You’re working so hard to build up an enemy to smite here.

      You disagree, but I think this whole statue issue is a nothing burger. If that’s the best thing someone can think of to do, the tank’s pretty empty.

      We’ll leave it at that.

  20. I’m not going to keep reading your own words back to you. If you can’t understand your own argument, how do you expect others to do so?

    Funny that someone supposedly on the fence can’t articulate a reason why it might be a good thing to take them down. You say you don’t have an opinion one way or another, yet all your argument fall on one side it seems. Curious!

    It’s also cute that you think it takes hard work to refute your arguments. Honey, please…I mean I suppose I could type a bit faster if I wanted to…

    To the extent I have an “enemy,” it’s white supremacists and supposedly good conservatives who provide cover for them. I’m not “building up” an enemy — they’re already here.

    I keep having to repeat myself because apparently I’m talking to someone with his fingers in his ears. This is not “the best thing someone can think of to do.” This is the very best we can hope for out of conservatives these days. We have plenty of better ideas that will never come to fruition under GOP leadership. Spoiler alert: You hate those ideas.

    If you think the whole thing is a nothing burger, why all the angst?

  21. I think a few points might be worth noting:
    First, demands to remove Confederate statues mostly assume that the South fought exclusively to defend slavery, enshrining white supremacy. Removing statues is cast as a step toward racial equality. I think this view motivated more by minority racism–regardless of one’s actual race–than searching for justice. Ample evidence shows many Southerners had come to view the North–the Union–as a foreign power, so fighting to defend their homeland would make sense. As Lincoln aimed originally to maintain the Union of States, not to free slaves, this concern has fair merit.
    Understanding this, I think it debatable whether Confederate statues aimed to enshrine white supremacy or racism. Lee and many others proved themselves remarkably capable commanders; some had great concern for their troops and home states. Such concerns would be just, even if the complete cause was not. I think we would expect no different from commanders today. I think condemning these for slavery or white supremacy much akin to condemning the entire US for having failed to abolish abortion. One might make a tolerable case against Nathan Bedford Forrest because of his known attitudes and actions; given Our inability to make such distinctions, I think it best We leave those statues alone too. We need to recover sanity first.

    On another note, I notice that neo-Nazi groups don’t typically congregate around these statues, usually gathering in more “private” circumstances. Occasionally they come onto public lands, but so do other groups whom I find equally despicable. If we can be required to tolerate hearing about dreams of Black Power and whatnot, I think we can certainly tolerate a few white supremacist idiots

    Rather than screaming at them about their racism, it might be helpful to get down on our knees in prayer, even at the public site of the rally we may loathe. Praying for repentance and redemption, demonstrating a functional Catholic love for Our brothers and sisters would go a long way toward creating a peaceable situation.

    We need to remember, there are none but sinners here.

  22. Why is this suddenly a problem after 150 years? Follow Charles Barkley`s advice–don`t waste your time thinking about this non-issue.

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