To the Editor:
In my opinion all plaques, markers, statues and monuments honoring those who served the Confederacy should be removed from public squares. Simply adding context or additional statuary allows the object honoring the Confederacy to remain … and that’s the problem. There is a horrific backstory connected to these statues which goes unacknowledged or unaccepted by many. Yet, in the light of historical fact, no one could support the continued public display of Confederate monuments.
At the core of all things Confederate is the preservation of human enslavement. So paramount was this issue that it was enshrined in the Confederate constitution. Article 1, Section 9, states: “… no law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” It continues in Article 4, Section 3, “… the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and the Territorial government(s) …”
Re-read that. Let it sink in. Property in people of African descent is protected in the foundational document of the Confederacy. Every Confederate soldier or government official would have sworn to uphold the constitution.
Now, take a second look at these statutes. All who served the Confederacy in any capacity, regardless of economic status, would have pledged to protect the “right of property in negro slaves.” All Southerners knew, at its core, what the fight was about. Other rationales were contrived, such as “state’s rights” or “home and hearth” to make the call to arms more virtuous or morally respectable, something noble. And while it’s true that most Confederate soldiers did not practice enslavement, they were, nonetheless, willing to fight to preserve it.
In historical reality, Confederate monuments honor those who took up arms to secure the right of white Southerners to force labor upon enslaved people who were legally designated as property, like other farm animals or equipment. That is the glaring historical truth. Do you actually want that represented on your courthouse lawn or capital square?
Having Confederate ancestors, as I do, is nothing to be proud of and should certainly not me memorialized. Sadly, this history happened, and rest assured it can’t be erased. But it is imperative now that we, as Americans, ask ourselves what in our history is worthy of communication. What should we publicly honor?