Friday, August 18, 2017

Charlie Pierce Esquire Column Reposted in Part: Removing Confederate Statues Isn't Sanitizing History -- It's Fumigating History

**This entry was posted August 18th, 2017.**


I just had to repost below at least part of this piece from the inestimable Charlie Pierce ...

Oh, and here is an excellent piece by Fred Kaplan of Slate.com explaining how Germany deals with its Nazi past in terms of statuary remembrance:

Hint: They don't treat it as something co-equal to what they are now.

--Regulus

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Removing Confederate Statues Isn't Sanitizing History -- It's Fumigating History

That difference is everything.

By Charlie Pierce
Esquire, August 17, 2017
Full piece here.


OK, I can understand there being statues to the white-supremacist traitor army in places like Kentucky and Maryland, which were, after all, border states during the Civil War. (It was in Baltimore where, on Patriots Day in 1861, the 6th Massachusetts was assaulted by secessionist dickwads, the event immortalized, if such a word can be used, in a huge mural in the State House on Beacon Hill.) But, seriously, people, Montana? The Great Falls Tribune surprised the hell out of me with this one.

During an administrative meeting Wednesday evening, Aug. 16, Helena Mayor Jim Smith said city officials will wait to decide what will happen to the monument after it is removed. Smith has previously said he opposed removing or altering the granite fountain, which was commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated in 1916. On Wednesday, he said he believes the memorial is now a safety concern.

I think we can all agree that Montana is a northern state, right? I mean, it wasn't even a state during the Civil War, and this fountain wasn't erected until 1916. As best I can tell, the Daughters of the Confederacy, the Bless-Your-Heart wing of white-supremacist backlash, performed Johnny Appleseed duty with these monuments and statues any place to which Southern folks fled after they started a war they couldn't finish, a war that wrecked their parasitic local economies. Many of them went west, to work the mines, or work the railroads, and get rich, or, at least, less poor. This, apparently, is the reason the Daughters put up these abominations in places like Montana, so that the expatriate Confederates could take comfort in the fact that the cause of white supremacy was alive everywhere in the country...

Pro Tip: any time [Trump] makes a reference to "culture," that's not a dog-whistle, that's an air-raid siren.

Seriously, though, I think the fact that we're arguing over whether or not we should end the free ride through our history that treasonous racists have enjoyed for 150 years is a very salubrious moment. For example, it is now much more widely known that the great majority of these statues were erected long after the Civil War, and that most of them were erected either during the high-tide of lynching in the South during the beginning of the 20th Century, or during the 1950s, when mass-resistance to racial desegregation was gathering steam in the old Confederacy. (This latter phenomenon also accounts for the resurrection of the Confederate battle flag.)

These were not put up as tribute to heritage or history. They were put up as reminders to African-American citizens as to who really was in charge of their lives, 13th amendment or no. These were tributes to the "culture" of Jim Crow, of sharecropping, and of lynching. More people are aware of that now than were aware of it two weeks ago, and I think that's all to the good...

Over the weekend, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the unfortunate mistake of saying that to remove the statues was to "sanitize history." This is, of course, a familiar charge, but it also is a criminally inaccurate one. These statues were put up in the first place to sanitize the history of the men who fought to maintain chattel slavery and the men who later re-established white supremacy in the old Confederacy. Removing them does not sanitize history. It fumigates it.

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