On the erection of Confederate memorials: in which I have to get this off my chest
(Update…Dan here…I erroneously posted this post under Barkley”s name but it is NDd.)
On the erection of Confederate memorials: in which I have to get this off my chest
Below is a photograph of the World War Two Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Keep it in the back of your mind. I’ll return to it.
I am a data nerd, and leaping to conclusions about data is a pet peeve of mine. I really hate it when anyone, and particularly my own side, falls for groupthink, jumping to instant conclusions which then become the only acceptable opinion. In the last 48 hours, without consideration of other possibilities, or looking for contrary vs. corroborating data, it seems that just about everyone on the center and left has become an instant expert on the fact that Confederate statues were erected because of Jim Crow.
In support of that, a number of graphics, such as this one, have been used:
So, has it occurred to nobody that there might be a more straightforward reason why there would be a huge spike in Memorials (cough, cough, hint, hint) ***50*** and ***100*** years after the Civil War?
Yes there were a number of racial incidents that occurred in the 1910s. But before the last 48 hours, the general consensus was that there was a resurgence in violence associated with white supremacy in the 1920s, not the 1910s.
But 1910-1915 marked 50 years sine the Civil War, and those 20 year old soldiers who fought it had dwindled to a band of 70 year old men, who did not want themselves or their cause to be forgotten after their generation had passed.
For (huge) example, on July 2-4, 1913, on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, there was a reunion of both northern and southern armies who camped out at the site. That reunion was commemorated by the Eternal Light Peace Memorial erected on the 75th anniversary during another encampment of the last few survivors:
In our own time, we have had a demonstration of the exact same psychology: the World War Two Memorial shown at the beginning of this piece was championed as the 50th anniversary of the war approached, as a monument to the “Greatest Generation,” particularly by veterans such as Bob Dole who did not want their sacrifice to be forgotten after they shuffled off to the Last Great Muster in the sky. Bill Clinton signed the authorizing Act for the memorial in 1993.
I am sure speeches were made lionize Jim Crow when the statues were dedicated, and none of this affects the debate on what should become of them. But can our side please not succumb to leaping to conclusions?
Here’s a good test: when were monuments to Union soldiers and leaders erected? I haven’t found any information onlline on that subject. Was there a similar spike in the vicinity of the 50th anniversary of the Civil War? If there wasn’t, then there was something “special” about what the South did. But if there was, then the more straightforward explanation is probably the correct one.
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.
UPDATE: Oh, good, I’m not the only one. Here’s a data analyst and neurocognitive researcher replying to Kevin Drum:
Actually, you need to also remember that we had black congressmen from the south after the civil war but that ended well before the 1920’s. So while the timeline does match up for the 50th, it also concides with Jim Crow.
They BOTH apply in my opinion. Please keep that in mind.
Notice the gap after 1901. There is a reason for that. Don’t ever forget it!
Welcome to AB Yomi…
The point i think is overlooked is that these statues were built in the United States of America.
The statutes of Union soldiers belong in the United States of America. The statues of Confederate soldiers do not belong in the United States of America.
“General Arnold’s greatest moment came during the Saratoga campaign, which ended with the surrender of an entire British army. The senior American commander, Horatio Gates, was often indecisive and shy of battle. Arnold, in contrast, was eager for battle. He personally led a successful charge on a British redoubt. During that fight, Arnold was shot in the leg and his horse fell on him.
Had Benedict Arnold died that day, he would likely be known as one of the great heroes of the American Revolutionary War. There would be towns, counties and schools named for him.
But he didn’t die. Arnold lived on to betray his country.
Which brings us to the Saratoga battlefield and the scene of Arnold’s most heroic moment.
Part of the Saratoga battlefield area is a national park. On the grounds are assorted monuments to various leaders and events. These were, of course, all built well after Arnold’s betrayal. How does it address the critical and heroic role of America’s most infamous traitor in that battle?
The monument to Arnold is known as the Boot Monument. That’s because it makes no mention of Arnold by name and honors the leg that was broken during the battle. The inscription reads:
In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental army, who was desperately wounded on this spot, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution, and for himself the rank of Major General.
John Watts de Peyster, a general in the New York State Militia during the Civil War, erected the monument in 1887. Perhaps de Peyster made it in response to the primary monument, which was erected a few years earlier. The 155-foot tall obelisk has niches for four statues. There are statues for three of the four great American leaders of the battle: General Horatio Gates, General Philip Schuyler and Colonel Daniel Morgan. The fourth niche is empty.”
I agree with much of what you say. There was one SCOTUS decision in 1896 which reinforced and/or created the separate but equal doctrine which gave rise to many different accomodations for white and black. That and the tensions set the stage for more overt southern pride.
“A timeline of the genesis of the Confederate sites shows two notable spikes. One comes around the turn of the 20th century, just after Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and just as many Southern states were establishing repressive race laws. The second runs from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s—the peak of the civil-rights movement. In other words, the erection of Confederate monuments has been a way to perform cultural resistance to black equality.”
South Carolina did not host the Confederate battle flag until 1961, 100 years after the Civil War started. 61 was also the year Boy Scouts in our district held a Camporee and the theme was the Civil War. We all had caps either blue or gray. Interesting time period to be growing up.
Plessy v. Ferguson, U.S. Supreme Court decision 1896 upheld the constitutionality of segregation under the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine. The decision focused on an 1892 incident in which African-American train passenger Homer Plessy refused to sit in a Jim Crow car thereby breaking a Louisiana law.
Not sure what is going on here, but I am not the author of this post. I largely agree with it, however, as well as agreeing with caveats offered by the commenters.
You did not write this?
I guess I just don’t get the point about WHEN. Why does it matter when the celebrative statues of and memorials to traitors to the US were put up in the former confederate states?
For those interested in a view of the graphic shown in Barkley’s post so that you can see the timeline dates its on pages 12 & 13 of this Southern Poverty Law Center paper “Who’s Heritage”
Clearly the major onset of the growth period begins immediately after Plessy v Ferguson (896). The major incidence of growth in the official state and county gov’ts erecting these monuments also occurs beginning immediately after Plessy — given a little time lag to commission, construct and get them erected. (the blue dots are monuments on courthouse grounds).
The Plessy case actually begins in 1892 with Plessy’s conviction by the New Orleans court judge Ferguson, which was upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court, citing Pennsylvania’s prior ruling of the constitutional authority of the 14th amendment to allow “separate but equal”‘ on the basis of “divine providence”.. i.e. the religious belief system that blacks are an inferior and sub-human race, which was the widely held belief system since long before the US became a separate nation.
But Plessy and Ferguson’s original ruling in 1890 already had ample prior precedence by nearly identical rulings from as early as 1867 in northern states, even before the 14th Amendment was ratified in July 1868. The basis of law before the 14th Amendment was the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (veto by President Johnson over-ridden)..
” commenting on a Pennsylvania law mandating separate railcars for different races the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated: “To assert separateness is not to declare inferiority … It is simply to say that following the order of Divine Providence, human authority ought not to compel these widely separated races to intermix.”
[West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad Co. v Miles, 1867)
The “separate but equal” rulings were necessary simply because at that time nearly all stats had anti-miscegenation laws (and widespread popular belief that intermarriage between black and white races was against “natural law” (e.g. religious belief). If separate wasn’t a condition of the law then it would open up Pandora’s box on the separation of religion and State, not to mention questioning how far “equal” could go if separation wasn’t allowed..
So from at least 1867’s states’ court precedence on “separate” until Brown v Topeka Board of education’s ruling 1954 — 87 year & over three generations later — the “separate” clause kept things from any serious upset to the status quo, especially in the former slave slave secessionist states.l
Returning to the time distribution of monuments to the traitors (confederacy)::
The peak occurs exactly 50 years (in 1910) after the first 7 secession states formed the Confederacy in 1860 (immediately after Lincoln’s election was formalized by the Electoral Collage, and long before he was inaugurated as President).
The monuments were then (and remain) a celebration of reverence to racism and subjugation of the non-white races by whites. That they persist to this day in thousands of public places, with street names and schools (Robert E. Lee Elementary School, for just one example) and other public placards still in use is not just a tragedy of US history, but a testament to its still racist based political system.
The timing of when this celebration of racist beliefs with statues and monuments to traitors of the nation commenced after the Civil war is wholly incidental.
no doubt there are racists in America. even in the South. and no doubt some of those are very bad people.
so lets say you catch the tiger and put him in a cage. is it a particularly good idea to go up to the cage and try to poke the tiger in the eye with a short stick?
i was in a high school in the South in 1961, no doubt where I acquired my racist ideas, except that while there was a lot of “southern pride” it didn’t seem to my (southern california) eyes to have anything to do with racism.
though, of course, no doubt it did for those inclined that way. i’d ask what the hell good it does to go around poking those people in the eye with a sharp stick if I didn’t already know the answer: people just can’t help themselves.
So do you think people that voted for a racist to be the POTUS are racists due to their vote?
Are the many, many people who are attemping(and some have succeeded) in repressing the vote based on racial grounds racist?
I don’t support poking them in the eye. I support telling people who and what they are. From trump, to his voters and to the neo-nazis.
These people have to be fought.
Conversely the first celebration of July 4 in Vicksburg Ms after the civil war happened on July 4 1963 100 years after the city fell to the Union on July 4 1863 after a long siege. Imho 100 represents a time when both the participants and most of their first generation descendants have left the scene. Stories told to later descendants lack the immediacy of those told to first generation descendants as one likley hears stories less from ones grandparents than from ones parents. 100 years represents IMHO the term of an effective statute of limitations of a war, Interestingly this is about the limit of when the monuments were put up (1965 or so). I do think there is a difference between a statue where an actor took was a direct participant and not. Thus for example besides the Lee Mansion in Arlington National Cemetery, Richmond Va, San Antonino, Tx where he served before the war (not Austin(, Gettysburg, Appomattox, Washington and Lee Univ, Antietam and other battles where he was directly in charge, and possibly national cemeteries related to these battles.
So let me get this straight.
Hard to comprehend what Lee did before the war that resulted in a statue in San Antonio.
Course, that was before he committed treason against the United States.
So, how does that math work?
This isn’t that hard. These statues are in celebration of the Confederate States of America, who seceded from the Union so they could keep their slaves.
The only issue is why it took so long to take them down.
Want to put them in a museum, even at Civil War battel sites for educational purposes? No problem.
You glorify them in a public park or school, you glorify their treason, and the reason they committed it.
“In our own time, we have had a demonstration of the exact same psychology: the World War Two Memorial shown at the beginning of this piece was championed as the 50th anniversary of the war approached, as a monument to the “Greatest Generation,” particularly by veterans such as Bob Dole who did not want their sacrifice to be forgotten after they shuffled off to the Last Great Muster in the sky. “
This is in recent memory and anyone whose family members served in the US military in WWII understands. (Mine did.) They have read the letters, heard bits and pieces of the personal experiences, and read a little of the history. Desperate struggles have called for memorials.
And that psychology is the best explanation for the southern Civil War memorials erected in the 1910-1915 period. By that period, most of the animosity between the surviving soldiers had disappeared and what they remembered were the desperate struggles.
But none of that is meaningful to those who want to destroy every single remembrance of the confederacy, and its soldiers.
First it was the confederate battle flag. Now it is confederate war memorials. Eventually it will be confederate grave markers.
They resemble the Taliban in Afghanistan who demonstrated their feeble superiority by destroying old monuments.
As long as there is a south, it will be used as a scapegoat for any and all racial problems in this country.
And as long as that continues then the holier-than-thous will not have to accept that there are limitations to what governments can achieve. Then they will have to accept that the black population will never live in a utopia, anymore than the white population lives in one now. Then they will have to accept that white people call other white people by bad names and even bully them occasionally and that it is unlikely that any of the minorities will escape that treatment. Then they will have to accept that there is no equality among whites either.
And perhaps then they will be all the more offended when government police officers kill unarmed black men. Because the government can absolutely do better than that! If the current laws approve of this murder then we should change the laws, not tear down confederate memorials.
This cuts both ways. There were more monuments to traitors because the war was passing from living memory and people wanted the traitors remembered, but there were also more monuments to the racial hatred, the torture state, the slavery, the opporession and the treason it led to for just the same reason. There is a difference between a monument and a tombstone though both be products of the stone cutter’s art.
We built World War II memorials to remind people of those who fought against the Nazis and their allies who shared their dream of racial conquest, subjugation and extermination. It wasn’t just about the dead. It was just as much or more about the casus belli, what they fought for and why many of them had died. If the Axis had won, they would have been building memorials to their fallen around the same time, to remind people of those who made sacrifices in forwarding their cause of hatred and world domination.
There aren’t any glorious civic monuments in Germany celebrating the Nazis or in Italy celebrating Mussolini and his fascism or in Japan celebrating the militarists of their Co-prosperity Sphere. If you proposed building such a monument, you would face major opposition. Most Germans, Italians and Japanese are not all that keen on reviving the values and policies of that era, though there are always some.
In the US, however, there are many civic monuments celebrating the Confederacy, its racism, its torture and its other horrors. Only now are we addressing the problem, even now as the Nazis and Confederates with their vicious racial dogmas have become emboldened.
The Seattle TImes had an article about a monument to Confederate soldiers in Seattle. It isn’t a big civic statue. It’s in a cemetery, surrounded by the dead. That’s how it should be. We should remember our dead. We should remember those who die during war. We aren’t the ancient Greeks where we make a point of denying our fallen enemies a decent burial. We should remember them as fellow human beings, but sometimes the “glorious cause” they fought for is best buried with them.
P.S. There is a Lee in that Seattle cemetery, Bruce Lee, the martial artist.
run, blue and gray civil war style caps were in vogue in the early and middle 50’s along with coon skin caps.
I know you are older than I. 🙂 Parents could not afford to buy those Walt Disney Davey Crocket hats for us.
i think you missed the point.
those people have to be fought. you are not fighting them. you are goading them and driving people to their cause by threatening their feelings of patriotism (local) and demonstrating to them that “liberals will stop at nothing.”
i used to think i was a liberal, and certainly a hater of the white ring, but people like you are counter productive in the fight against “these people.”
My fight is in the voting booth. Don’t know how you think it is otherwise.
Kudos. Many kudos.
Totalitarian always seek to destroy the history of those they subjugate. Happened in Russia, Germany, China, practically every major war…. they try to knock the moorings out from beneath the people, so they can better attach themselves to the new regime
This is nothing more than this type of an attempt to erase history, under the guise of anti racism.
The reason is that they want to substitute
Yep, just like in Colfax, the Grant Parish seat located in LA.
Trump has a good point: “What’s next?” After all George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Are we to blow their faces off Mt. Rushmore?
This may sound far fetched but a scant 30 years ago, the confederate flag was commonplace in Virginia. It was flown as a symbol of state and regional pride, not racism. They fought valiantly in a losing cause.
Now, just try it.
You wonder why the South voted for Trump. It ain’t racism, it’s resentment of busybody Libs destroying their culture while calling them racists.
What did Washington and Jefferson accomplish in their lives? Yes, they owned slaves and that is evil.
Now, what did Lee and all those other traitors do with their lives(spare me universities, etc.).
You have branded yourself as being just as ignorant as trump.
That ain’t easy, but thinking of your past thoughts, I knew you had it in you.
“Now, what did Lee and all those other traitors do with their lives.”
What side of the Civil War you fought on was overwhelmingly dependent on what state you lived in. Lee was offered command ofUnion army, but declined because of his loyalty to his state Virginia. How many times have you heard that the Civil War was not about slavery but about states rights? Lincoln himself proclaimed that if he could preserve the union while keeping slavery, he would do so.
If you, Emichael, the “uber non racist,” were born in Georgia at that time, odds are overwhelming that you would be donning the Confederate gear. You would be labelled the despicable racist, even if you hated slavery and believed men of all races were equal. No matter what glorious and humane thing you accomplished, your statue would be demolished by the 2017 PC Emichael dancing to the jig of your DNC messagers.
Trump is a racist. Republicans are racist. We are the Borg.
As if on cue: “Pastor Wants Presidents’ Names Removed From Washington, Jackson Parks Over Ties To Slavery”
That is right. I even checked and googled, just in case somehow I had written this some time ago and forgot about it. No finding. I have commented on these issues from time to time, but not this post. No idea where it came from. I must say that I would prefer not to see posts put up here in the future that were not actually written by me.
Pretty obviously you do not live in Virginia. I do, in the Shenandoah Valley and have for over 40 years. Frankly, I see more Confederate flags now, some of them really humongous, than I have ever seen before. No, they are not on public property, but they were not 40 years ago either. Nor are they in the fairly liberal college town of Harrisonburg. But outside of town in Rockingham County, which was a bastion of moderate “mountain valley Republicans” (dating from the Lincoln era), and is very GOP, going regularly over 70% for GOP prez and gub candidates, well, there on private property all over the place I see the Confederate battle flag, and sometimes really humongous.
So, Sammy, you have no idea what you are talking about apparently.
Approved you again.
I will ask Dan. If I do it, you would see run75441 and a notation to you and Econospeak. Dan does the same unless he forgot. That scares me.
one of us isn’t understanding what you are saying. i thought you were figting this fight by tearing down statues of Robert E Lee and calling southerners traitors.
there is no point in us arguing about this. it’s like arguing with a racist.
Lee was stationed in San Antonio before the war started here is a link that details the two times Lee was stationed in San Antonio, as well as his service in the Mexican war. (He was promoted 3 times in that war). https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fle18. He was in San Antonio 1856 to 1857, and 1860 to 1861.
So my idea is to distinguish between places that a person spent some time and places where at most he only passed thru, in addition for Generals where the commanded battles.
honor requires that i admit i agree with you about this.
if nothing else, the emichaels need to undersand at least that yours is the way millions of people see it. and calling them racists and insulting their mothers is not going to change their minds.
in case anyone asks you, you can tell them from me that “secession” was not “treason” at the time. the constitution could fairly be read to allow it. i don’t even know if it would be now. times change.
that said, i do not like the folks who promoted secession. i do not like their belief that people are property. i do not like modern day nazis, kkk’s, white supremacists, racists… or other people who see people as objects to be used for profit and treated as badly as necessary to get them to obey their masters.
sadly, that seems to include some people on the left. not all, but some.
Consider that before the civil war United States was regarded as plural (these United States in the Gettysburg address for example) Then after the civil war the United States became singular i.e. the united states.
Interestingly here is what is said about lees mansion and memorial at Arlington:
The Robert E. Lee Memorial
Arlington House is the nation’s memorial to Robert E. Lee. It honors him for specific reasons, including his role in promoting peace and reunion after the Civil War. In a larger sense it exists as a place of study and contemplation of the meaning of some of the most difficult aspects of American History: military service; sacrifice; citizenship; duty; loyalty; slavery and freedom.”
Note that there were voices at Appamatox that said to go to a guerilla war mode and scorch the earth. Lee said as noted above that let bygones be bygones and lets reunite.
Do folks say we have to rename the house at Arlington?
This thing about states rights is BS. Here’s the Constitution of the Confederate States of America: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_csa.asp
And here’s Article IV, Section 3 (3):
In other words, no state could be in the Confederacy and outlaw the holding of slaves. In plain English – state’s rights did not extend to the right to outlaw slavery. Maybe to the poor bastards who were conscripted this war was about something else, and maybe some people have retconned this thing in their own head, but the Confederacy, and its attempt to secede, were about slavery and nothing more.
Aaargh. I forgot to close blockquotes. Apologies. The quote from the Confederate Constitution ends with the words “Confederate States.”
The last paragraph in the comment above was mine. Again, apologies.
You are fixed
You don’t have to provide a link to the Confederate Constitution to prove that the South wanted to maintain slavery. Duhhh……
i didn’t really notice Sammy’s mention of State’s rights. I don’t think he advocated it here. just said “how many times have you heard…”
and of course I heard it plenty of times… and debunked it just the way you have… the South always hollered states rights, unless they wanted to force other states to do things their way.
so it’s a point worth making, but it doesn’t exactly contradict the point sammy was making.
and, just to make sure i have been understood: i am not claiming anything ANYONE believes is rational. neither the states’ rights people nor the ones who are going to end racism by calling people racists.
I was responding to this:
I have heard any times that its about states rights. But if the states did not have the right to avoid slavery, than clearly slavery was more important than states rights.
Any statues of General Lee in uniform on a horse at Arlington?
I should know better than to talk to you about anything but SS.
The stupidity combined with the ideology is too much for me to take.
The mayor of Baltimore Maryland has had the confederate monuments removed from her city.
I applaud her decisiveness and the efficient way it was handled.
But the quality of life for the black population of Baltimore will not improve dramatically over the next month or even the next year.
Government officials in Baltimore will not be treating the black population any kinder or gentler in the near future.
Wages for black working class people in Baltimore will not be dramatically increasing.
The problem with symbolic measures, is that they are only symbolic.
Careful with your phrasing. Some people see racism where it is not. I believe the city government of Baltimore is majority Black as is over 60% of the population. If they are failing their constituents (and I believe they are) it isn’t because they choose to be unkind to Black people.
yes. it’s a shame we have to talk to each other. wouldn’t it be better if we could just say whatever we want and not have anyone disagree with us.
as for SS, thanks for your kind words, but you may have noticed i am not having much luck gettting anyone to agree with me even about that.
give some thought, if you can, to what good is accomplished by removing “confederate” monuments.”
as Jim says above, symbols are only symbols. trouble with that is, that if you insult someones symbols they go crazy and try to hurt you.
“Careful with your phrasing. Some people see racism where it is not.”
“give some thought, if you can, to what good is accomplished by removing “confederate” monuments.”
Well, I think you should ask a black person that question.
As for me, I am not a fan of honoring traitors to the USA. On the other hand, it really pisses off Neo-Nazis, and that is enough for me.
then you are part of the problem.
it occurred to me that there was an argument that you could have made that would have forced me to think:
“should Germany allow monuments to Hitler or the flying of Nazi flags?”
but as for “black persons” feelings: i am all for civil rights and decent treatment for everyone. but i am so much NOT a racist that i can say i am not for perpetual self pity for anyone of any color.
jail the thugs. get therapy for those who are offended by “confederate” monuments.
Yeah, I’m the problem when you find it somehow necessary to say “confederate” statues.
That is what they are. They are not statues of Americans, they are statues of traitors.
Early on I posted a link that showed, imo, how traitors should be treated.
these people should be treated the same, unless of course if you are talking about a museum.