Having lived on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, and having attended both de-facto segregated schools (grades 4, 7-8.5,10-12) and integrated/de-segregted schools (grades 1-3, 5-6,8.5-9), and having worked in environments that included multicultural settings, I’m going to offer my $0.02 on race relations and confederate statues and monuments.
When I was in 3rd grade, we moved from Dayton, Ohio to Albany, Georgia. That May, we did what we had always done: we took Memorial Day off from school. But at that school, they didn’t take that day off.
Other than the accents, that was the first serious difference I noticed about the South. We hadn’t been taught much about the Civil War at that time, but we would get quite the education in the coming years.
In 7th grade, when we moved to Nashville, I attended a private Christian (fundamentalist) school for the first half, and then transitioned to a public school when we moved to nearby Hendersonville. In the former, we learned Tennessee history, and the coverage was fair. We had not, however, reached the coverage of the Civil War. When I moved, we had just covered Andrew Jackson. At the public school–where I finished 7th grade and the first part of 8th grade–nothing was ever addressed. The Civil War was not covered, pro or con.
However, over the years, we traveled between Ohio and Florida. Oftentimes, we would stop in Lookout Mountain. We got to see different perspectives on the Civil War. It was covered fairly.
Over the years, I’ve seen a number of memorials and monuments. Each tells a story. Sometimes those memorials can represent unsavory times in our history; sometimes those memorials celebrate great victories; some of them–Vietnam in particular–represent a painful testament to very bad choices by our leaders.
In America, we have a tendency to memorialize our history for both better and worse. Sometimes we over-romanticize the accounts; other times, we tell the sobering truth. But monuments and memorials provide an opportunity for reflection regarding the person, the event, and the outcomes.
This is why, as much as I HATE the KKK, I have no problem with a statue of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, perhaps one of the most enigmatic military figures in American history. Yes, he was a founder of the KKK. But you know what? If you study about him, you will find that, near the end of his life, he provided the following remarks in a speech:
- Ladies and Gentlemen I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. (Immense applause and laughter.) This day is a day that is proud to me, having occupied the position that I did for the past twelve years, and been misunderstood by your race. This is the first opportunity I have had during that time to say that I am your friend. I am here a representative of the southern people, one more slandered and maligned than any man in the nation.
- I will say to you and to the colored race that men who bore arms and followed the flag of the Confederacy are, with very few exceptions, your friends. I have an opportunity of saying what I have always felt – that I am your friend, for my interests are your interests, and your interests are my interests. We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, and live in the same land. Why, then, can we not live as brothers? I will say that when the war broke out I felt it my duty to stand by my people. When the time came I did the best I could, and I don’t believe I flickered. I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe that I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to bring about peace. It has always been my motto to elevate every man- to depress none. (Applause.) I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going.
- I have not said anything about politics today. I don’t propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, that you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Use your best judgment in selecting men for office and vote as you think right.
- Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. I have been in the heat of battle when colored men, asked me to protect them. I have placed myself between them and the bullets of my men, and told them they should be kept unharmed. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.
Does a statue tell me all of that? No. But statues often leave me wondering about individuals, and give me a note to look that person up and check out the balance of his or her life. I often do the same thing regarding monuments to battles.
Monuments and memorials represent a story. Sometimes that story is sordid and bitter, as every great nation in history has had sordid and bitter periods in their histories. Sometimes that story is glorious. But those are about who we were and how they have shaped who we are today.
Almost every year, MrsLarijani and I flock to Dayton for the Air Force Marathon, which is held at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB. It was a place I frequented during my grade-school days, it is where I did my first marathon. We always tour the museum the day before.
In that museum are aircraft of all types, going back to attempts at flight before the Wright Brothers. It also includes aircraft of all types throughout every era of aviation, including World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War, and even the era since the Cold War.
Those aircraft include German WWI aircraft and WWII aircraft, Japanese aircraft from WWII, and even Soviet aircraft from the Cold War era. Among the aircraft on display is a North Korean MiG-15 that was flown by a professor of mine who defected at the end of the Korean War.
The Germans and Japanese–and dare I say the North Koreans in collusion with China and the Soviet Union during the Korean War–killed countless Americans. Ditto for North Vietnamese who flew Soviet aircraft.
I have no problem including those in the museum, as they provide a forum that one may learn (a) the history of flight, (b) the history that drove the development of such aircraft, and (c) the state of flight today, for both better and worse, as a result of those factors.
Perhaps the equitable solution here with respect to statues and monuments is to create museums for their inclusion. But their destruction is counterproductive.
Moreover, this recent fixation on monuments and memorials is a recent thing and is being driven by mostly Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) who have nothing in common with the movers and shakers of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
I cannot help but question the SJW fixation on statues and monuments at this time, given that (a) that war has been over for 150 years and (b) not even the iconoclastic movers and shakers in the Civil Rights movement had such a fixation. While some could argue that MLK had other irons in the fire at the time, many years have passed between now and then. Race relations had been improving greatly until the push for reparations began circulating in the late 1990s.
The cynic in me suggests that there is a more insidious agenda going on here, and it isn’t simply about race relations, but rather something more totalitarian in nature, with some form of seizure/redistribution of wealth or income (i.e. reparations) as an endgame.
I have some good friends who are totally on-board with removing Confederate statues; at the same time, from what I see from the SJWs, it won’t stop there. In fact, they’re already aiming for statues of our Founders, including Washington, Jefferson, and–ironically enough–even Lincoln.
To that point, those who ask, “When will it end”, indeed have a legitimate question.
One thing we must remember: SJWs, at their core, are cultural Marxists. The authors of their playbooks include Marx, Mao, and Alinsky, their leanings Communist, and their appeal to the Christian is merely to recruit useful idiots.
And when understanding Communists, we must remember that it is not a political or an economic ideology but rather a militant Atheist religion that seeks to impose itself through political , military, and economic means. They have killed more of their own people in peacetime alone than any system on earth.
Are SJWs seeking to kill you? I doubt it. They do, however, seek to impose their system of law and justice on you. And to do that, they must gaslight you into accepting their narrative about history.
For that to happen, they must make it more difficult for you to identify with the truth.
But remember: even if you are a minority, the SJW is not your friend. You are just a means to his end, just as the laborer was to Lenin in the Bolshevik Revolution.