Should We Tear Down Confederate Statues?
As usual, the Rational Heathen goes right at controversy head-on. Which will probably get
someone’s panties in a wad. My opinions may surprise you. Furthermore, the reasons for my opinions probably aren’t what you would expect. So, let’s get to the post and see how many hate letters I get, huh?
Nazis and Charlottesville
The Alt-Right, AKA the Nazis, KKK, and white supremacists, are evil. Period. If you’ve read any of my posts, this statement comes as no surprise to you. I abhor that we’ve attracted those elements in Heathenry and I really wish they would go back to their Christian roots and have those people deal with them (instead of us). My dad helped liberate Jews right after WWII — he saw the concentration camps. I don’t mince words about what I think about Nazis. They are horrendous.
Charlottesville was a terrible tragedy because three people died, including one civilian who was protesting the evil when an Alt-Right drove his car into a crowd of protesters. The other two were police officers whose helicopter crashed. Nineteen people were injured when that car ran through the crowd. The sad part is that none of this should have happened. All this was allegedly over a damn statue. A hunk of metal.
Over a Damn Statue
Of course, it wasn’t just the statue that people were protesting. It’s the ideology behind what the statue is. Robert E. Lee was a famous southern general, which makes his statue a natural lightning rod for those who want to make him the poster boy for the Alt-Right bigots. (As an aside, Lee wasn’t pro-slavery, but he wasn’t outspoken against it. He turned down serving in the Union against the South because of his loyalty to Virginia. I think he would probably be horrified over his legacy as an Alt-Right poster boy. Furthermore, he was against Civil War statues.) The statue in question is still to be removed, just as there have been other statues removed. The descendants of Lee, Davis, and Jackson have already said they want them removed.
Oddly enough, I don’t think removing the statues are a good idea. Let me explain…
The Problem with Removing the Statues
It seems like a great idea to remove signs of hatred from public viewing. The problem is that you don’t get at the root cause of the problem: the hatred, itself. Instead, you remove a piece of history that could be used as an object lesson for those generations that follow. It’s rather Soviet-esque to remove the existence of statues because you don’t like the person or ideology it represented. After all, if no one talks about it openly, surely it goes away, doesn’t it? (That was sarcasm, for those who don’t get it.) That really worked for the Balkan states (sarcasm, again). When the threat of the Soviet fist was lifted, fighting resumed. Gee, I guess that’s one for the USSR, huh? Never mind all the oppression there. (Sarcasm, folks)
Imagine, if you would, that everything anyone found offensive were to be removed. We would have few historical monuments. People, both past and present, are incredibly flawed. What would happen if Auschwitz and all the other concentration camps were destroyed instead of preserved? We already have holocaust deniers–how many more would we have? What about Nazi buildings? What about the Custard memorial at Little Big Horn? What about the Battle of Culloden? What about the Trail of Tears? What about Columbus? Should we remove those statues and memorials because they’re incredibly painful to someone?
Most of the founding fathers of our country owned slaves. Our Viking ancestors owned slaves. Europeans owned slaves. Africans owned slaves. It has been a blight on humanity since the beginning of agriculture–and possibly before. Do we censor Mark Twain because he used the N-word (when he was incredibly anti-racist)? Do we tear down those things that symbolize slavery? Just because we remove something, doesn’t mean it no longer existed, or exists now.
I believe they need to be there. Not as a place for the Alt-Right to congregate, but one that we can use as a way to educate people as to the atrocities of the past.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana
Where the Problem Lies
The problem isn’t the statues. They’re chunks of metal and stone. The problem is the underlying hatred and bigotry that exists. Destroying monuments won’t eliminate the issue–in fact, as we’ve seen in Charlottesville, it actually adds fuel to the fire. The problem is the way that our society treats minorities to this day. Somehow because of genetic variations, some people are convinced that they’re better or superior to those without those variations. Those in the Alt-Right are convinced that they’re “pure,” when in fact, they just aren’t. Genetics do not lie. History and archaeology has further demonstrated that there have been incursions into Europe since humans first arrived. Our ancient ancestors didn’t care about “racial purity” — they only cared about whether or not the invaders were going to kill them. And the invaders were more into acquisition of wealth: land, gold, food, and slaves.
Somehow, as a society we’ve become fucked up to the point where statues mean more than human beings. (And Christians accuse Heathens of idolatry?) I believe we’re at a turning point in history where we can either stand up for the equality of all humans regardless of their ethnicity or skin color, or we can let the thugs take over. I do not advocate violence while there is still some shred of the rule of law. Right now we need to work on fixing the inequity and protecting our fellow human beings, Because, we’re all in this together now.