Thursday, August 17, 2017

Heritage, History and Gasligthing

After some back and forth with people on social media over the last few days, I have some thoughts on points I keep hearing from the other side of the Confederate statue issue.  

1. The question of “heritage”. Some folks seem captive to the past. They venerate the Civil War and honor the leaders of the traitorous Confederate States of America just because “my ancestors fought for the South”.  

It’s as if, once somebody takes a political stand, then all his descendants are locked into that position for generations to come. I really don’t get that. Speaking for myself, I am my own man. I decide what I think about an issue, how I see the world. What my ancestors might have done or thought doesn’t determine what I think.  

2. Even if you take the position that the traitorous CSA and its leaders should be honored because of your heritage, it’s important to remember that the South is home to a lot of people who don’t share that heritage, or whose heritage was slavery itself. Why should communities that are majority black have to put up with memorials of oppressors just because of “your” heritage.  

3. I continuously hear "you can’t rewrite history". Yes, you can. This is what whites in the South did decades ago with the Lost Cause myth-making, to the point where some people even today believe that slavery was NOT the cause of the Civil War. The truth of the conflict was “sanitized” to obscure the racist foundation of the CSA and encourage a sense of victimhood among the losers of the war. To make them feel better about their deplorable past. It is a decades-long process of gaslighting. 

4. In any case, history isn’t written in statues. It’s written in books. If statues are essential for the telling of American history, then why not erect some statues of Hitler, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein? Those guys are part of American history as well. In truth, the Confederate statues are about honoring CSA leaders (and in some cases, common soldiers), not “telling history”.  

5. A typical taking point of CSA apologists is “It’s heritage, not hate.” No, it’s both. It’s a heritage of hate. And it’s nothing to be proud of.

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