The Mandarin, ‘Puter, and GorT spent some time last night sitting along the Castle moat talking about the current events with regards to the events in Charlottesville, Nazis, White Supremacists, AntiFA, and that whole mess. A passing mention was made about the current push against Confederate statues. On GorT’s drive into work this morning, I did some thinking and had a few thoughts on that aspect.
Liberals can be counted on, if for nothing else, than to be consistently inconsistent. One of the defining characteristics that many liberals hold is that man (the species) is innately good. So to cut to the chase, why do they advocate the ripping down of statues of people that, according to said belief, were innately good but lived in a time and participated in the owning of slaves. If it is that one sin – and it is abhorrent and a permanent stain on this country’s history – that should warrant the removal of any statue then the question becomes how far should we go? The specific ownership of slaves is complicated – until 1859, Grant managed his father-in-law’s farm which used slaves. It is unclear if Robert E. Lee actually owned any slaves as he too managed his father-in-law’s three estates which used slaves but he never inherited these slaves and only continued their servitude through his role as executor of his father-in-law’s will. If we rewind history a bit more, we have Presidents Washington and Jefferson who both had slaves on their properties and as Al Sharpton has suggested, that means the end of the Washington and Jefferson monuments in DC as well as many other statues and memorials around the country. While we’re at it, throw in any of the following presidents: Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, and Johnson*. So any school named after one of them or monument or statue needs to be on a list of things to change or remove. All the while, we’ll wash away parts of the story of the evil of slavery in this country while ignoring any and all good that these people did.
While I’m not going to dive into this much, there is a solid argument to be made that the Civil War wasn’t over slavery so those arguing to tear down statues of people who “fought for slavery” in essence attempting to provide an “out” for Washington, Jefferson, etc. as they didn’t “fight” for slavery in the Civil War. I believe that it was largely over the 10th amendment and federal vs. state rights – something that has been long lost. Slavery just was the key issue being pushed down from the federal government to the states and, like today, there was probably a lack of good dialog over the issue and the southern states were going to be significantly impacted. And it is a mistake to conflate slavery with racism and white supremacy. There were many slave owners who openly condemned and fought against white supremacy movements in the mid-1800s. And don’t just look at the south for these issues – the largest race riot in the United States took place in 1863 in New York City between lower-income, mostly Irish immigrants and free slaves over the draft and competition for work.
I don’t think we should have statues celebrating these folks specifically for slavery and fighting to maintain slaves but at the same time without applying some critical thinking, we will be left with the “group think” results that give us situations like Charlottesville.