Way too many things happened last week to single out a particular issue as the biggest one. Therefore I’d like to explore one that may correct an old problem and positively impact the future. Of course I wouldn’t be capable of doing that without a “dash of snark”. Please come along.
The discussion over confederate statues (along with flags and other commemorations) has opened up again. One of the common defenses I hear for them is, “It’s history.” Well, it is history; there is no denying that. However there is a huge difference between remembering history and commemorating/honoring it.
Especially this time of year I get scores of email requests for donations. (One of the great features of the iPhone is how easy it is to delete emails.) I’m waiting for a new one from a group I will call The Right Wing Mythologists’ Statue Fund. Their plea will be that history is under attack and not only should monuments to traitors, losers and evil be preserved; more must be erected.
They need to erect a monument to Alger Hiss outside the American Embassy in Canada. Sure he gave State Department secret to our enemies while working there but it is history.
Domestically a statue to Aldrich Ames is desperately needed outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia least we forget that he was a double agent working for the KGB.
Since under Trump Iraq will soon be one of the few countries that will allow Americans to visit due to concerns over the coronavirus we need to rush money for the fund to rebuild the toppled statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
To appeal to the baseball fans that love losers they will propose a statue on Michigan Avenue in Detroit to the 2019 Tigers who posted the worst record in baseball at 47-114. Why bother commemorating their World Series championships of 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984?
These community battles are going on across America particularly in the South. Franklin County, North Carolina is a place I am very familiar with and its community battle has reopened in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. In the middle of its Main Street (which isn’t the main thoroughfare of its county seat Louisburg, but that is another story), stands a statue of a confederate soldier facing south (the direction of the predominantly African-American section of town) that is symbolically defending the town from the northern aggressors. (Why doesn’t it face north then?) Franklin County has some of the most beautiful land in America along with many really nice people. It is trying to market itself but your cell phone probably won’t work there and getting high speed internet is at best a challenge.
If they really want to compete in the 21st century I’d suggest they address those problems pronto! If they are really concerned about their image and marketability the first step would be to move the statue out of sight. That doesn’t obliterate history it just moves it to a place where the masses will not be offended by its not subtle at all racist implications. (You have to actively go to a museum and enter it if you want to view its collection. It is a choice.) Why would someone looking to expand/locate their business go to a place that advertises that “those people” (and its more than just African-Americas) are not welcome there?
Those statues and other commemorations represent a lot of things; history is not one of them.
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