Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, as illustrated by the mental gymnastics that Confederacy apologists continue to go through to defend keeping monuments to Confederates in public places of honor.
USA Today opinion contributor Brett M. Decker writes, “Battles over Confederate monuments are flaring up again 152 years after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. It shouldn’t be a newsflash that the Civil War is over, but for some, Dixie still lives on and must be defended.”
Decker goes on to write, “Most of us conservatives from the North are not falling on our swords to defend memorials to Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and others who fought to preserve the evil institution of slavery. The racist context is central to this saga, and the few people who don’t understand that don’t belong in the party of Lincoln. . . As the secession documents of 1860 and 1861 made clear, establishing the Confederacy was about maintaining slavery, period. Moving or taking down Confederate monuments is not erasing a misunderstood history but correcting it. It is also about correcting injustice. . . Those who want to pay homage to their Confederate ancestors can put roses on their graves, but it’s time for the rest of the country and the Republican Party to move on. It is disingenuous for America to boast about being the Land of the Free when it still lionizes those who committed treason against this nation to deny freedom to millions.”
I do not agree with Decker’s conclusion that all Confederacy monuments should be taken down. I have no objection to such monuments existing so long as they don’t exist for the purpose of glorifying Confederates. As Decker states, “Confederate memorials must be seen for what they are: celebrations of subjugation, objects of intimidation against African Americans, and a warning for blacks to stay in their place.” Put in their proper places, such monuments can teach future generations about the Confederacy without glorifying it.
I also agree with the assessment of Cincinnati Enquirer opinion editor Kevin Aldridge, who describes Confederates as having been traitors to the USA “who fought to maintain the deplorable and murderous system of slavery.” Aldridge writes, “Now there are some who want to romanticize, revere and commemorate them [Confederates] as heroes. Well, excuse me if I’m not willing to buy that brand. Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for your loss. Sorry if it ruins some quaint childhood memory.”
As the title of Brett Decker’s column says, “Bury Confederate romanticism. It’s indefensible and bad for GOP.”