Removing Confederate and Other Flags, Statues, and Monuments?

Introduction

I am mindful of Romans 12:10 which says “ Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”.  So then we should seek  reasonable compromise solution to differences.

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There is a movement to convince government and other citizens that Confederate symbols should be removed from public property.  Some have said that no symbol that celebrates or memorializes slavery or support for slavery should be present on public property.

First of all let me say that at this point I am not certain God is concerned about the presence of such symbols on public or private property.  If they are evil then they are evil on public and private property.  Perhaps, he leaves the fate of such symbols up to humans to work out following his Word, Will, and Way.  One should be mindful of the biblical principle that though all things are lawful, all things are not expedient.

The purpose of this article is to provide some insight into my personal observations concerning the matter.  Now I must admit I am not an expert on the matter. Therefore, my understanding may change over time.  I am not above deepening my understanding of the matter.  I am still praying and seeking understanding and doing so with a loving forgiving heart as I stand firmly against evil or any promotion of it, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

One major problem is determining how far we go in removing historical symbols from our society and who makes that determination?  For example, do we restrict it to Confederate symbols and will all people accept such restrictions?  For example, do we rename Washington D. C. since our first President George Washington is believed to have had slaves? Do we eliminate Columbus Day as some have already proposes and apparently done in Los Angeles, CA saying Columbus massacred Indians?  Do all Black Americans with slave master last names changed their names to African last name?

The purpose and value of Confederate symbols are questionable.  Some consider other monuments of persons who supported slavery as of no value to our society.

Those who support such symbols say they are part of history and of historical value.  They claim the purpose of the symbols are not to perpetuate the slavery ideology or support for it.

Those who oppose the symbols say the symbols were erected precisely to promulgate the slavery ideology and support for it.  They emphasize that the symbols were erected in defiance of the nation’s movement to grant Black Americans more rights and equity in all aspects of American Society.

The fundamental question is to what extent do such symbols contribute to or detract from our nation becoming a more perfect union?  Do they really have any historical value in the everyday public sphere or are they a historical distraction in the everyday public sphere?  Should they be destroyed or at least relegated to some area with less potential for observation?  Would an area such as a museum be appropriate?  Would a private museum be more appropriate than a public museum?

Yet, one must also consider whether removing them causes greater hate, mistrust, and conflict between the races.  Should Black Americans and their supporters be the spiritually, mentally, and strong adult and not want its way on this one.  After all, these are inanimate objects which are of no value to Black Americans in their pursuit of actual equality.  This is unlike water fountains, or restaurants, or hotel rooms or housing, or employment and similar items that were and are useful to Black Americans in their pursuit of a high quality life of liberty in this nation.

I understand why people want the Confederate and other Symbols taken down. I agree something needs to be done to communicate that we as a nation do not celebrate nor will we as a nation tolerate celebration and honoring of the Confederate cause in general and the slavery cause in particular.

I just think we as a nation should make sure we think it through.
Right now there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction happening on both sides of the argument and among all races, black and white, etc.

However, I am concerned that many see their presence as hope that our nation will one day return to the slavery ideology and relegate Black Americans to slavery status or even stripping of citizenship and ouster out of America “back to Africa”.   Any such hope is evil and must be definitively suppressed.  Therefore, some action to diminish the use of such symbols in keeping such hope of alive is appropriate.  This article outlines some of which I would be okay.  There may other steps, however, that would be fine with me.

I think the national government should convene a special commission or other group to recommend the action or actions that are appropriate to be taken.  It should not be something left to the States solely just as the Civil War was about not leaving the question of slavery to the States.  The States should participate in the decision making but the Civil War showed that if left to the States, some States might choose the perpetuate the slavery ideology and some might choose not to.  Just as the Civil War was about what is best in moving the nation to  a more perfect union, so is this question of Confederate and associated slavery symbolism.

But I also believe that State and local governments, churches, and nonprofits should incorporate communication and collaboration of resolving this issue.

Let me emphasize that the symbols do not bother me personally in the sense that if they stay, that’s fine, if they go that would be fine with me.  This article sets forth my observations on the matter and what I consider some reasonable considerations in deciding what to do about the monuments, etc.

The confederate nation was formed through treasonous action. Therefore, Confederate symbols should not be positioned on our nation’s soil so as to celebrate/honor the confederate nation, confederate cause, or person’s participation in support of that cause. People who fought as members of the confederacy may be publicly honored and celebrated but not in their role as part of the confederacy.

For example Jefferson Davis was President of the Confederate States. But prior to that he was a US Senator from Mississippi. Thus, he may be honored as a US Senator but not as President of the Confederacy.

If they are to exist, Confederate symbols belong in museums so we do not forget that the fight for White and Black Supremacy/Separation has already been fought and Racial Supremacy/Separation lost and will always loose. These are events, conditions, and attitudes that we as individuals should not forget nor try to erase from our collective national memory less evil forces convince the nation to resurrect their prevalence in our nation. Let no one doubt there are such evil forces present in our nation consisting of people of all races.

Overview of  alternatives outlined  by this article, details of which shall be given later:

(1) That Confederate symbols be relegated to obscure which should be  non-bothersome location (s) such as private or public museums or other private property, where possible, or otherwise destroyed.  Private museums are preferable over public museums; but, places such as Stone Mountain in Georgia would most likely require designation as a public museum.

(2) That Confederate symbols and other non-Confederate symbols of persons who supported slavery (e.g., Statues of  Supreme Court Justice of Dred Scott Case) be relegated to obscure which should be  non-bothersome location (s) such as a private or public museums or other private property, where possible, or otherwise destroyed.

(3) That a permanent protected sign or engraving of some sort be affixed to each Confederate monument, statue, etc.. denouncing the Civil War.

(4) That a permanent protected sign or engraving of some sort be affixed to each Confederate monument, statue, etc., denouncing American slavery and the Civil War. That a permanent protected sign or engraving of some sort denouncing American slavery be affixed to each non-Confederate monument, statue, etc., of persons who supported American Slavery.

(5) That a permanent protected sign or engraving of some sort be affixed to each Confederate monument, statue, etc., denouncing American slavery and the Civil War.

The Founders Delayed Civil War

The founders delayed strongly addressing the slavery question due to concerns about the colonies going along with forming the nation if slavery was not allowed.  This in effect delayed the fight for and against slavery which occurred in the form of the Civil War

Racism, Slavery, White Supremacy, and Confederate Symbols

The basis for slavery and therefore the Civil War was free-labor; the North was less dependent on slavery during the time of the Civil War.  The article here discusses the basis, justifiability, teaching of, legality of, and the North’s view of slavery at the time of the Civil War. Basis for Civil War is also discussed here.

An article on the purpose, when and where erected, and correlation between confederate symbols and white supremacy may be found here.

On December 6th, 1865 the thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution was ratified to make slavery illegal in USA.  Prior to that on March 2, 1861, the Corwin Amendment was proposed to make it unconstitutional to abolish slavery.  The Corwin Amendment was not ratified but remain on the books.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) protest of a Confederate symbol in a cemetery is discussed here.

 Intensified Movement to Remove Confederate Symbols

The movement to remove confederate symbols has been ongoing, perhaps to some extent since they were put up beginning in the late 1800s when the symbols began to appear.

But the killing of nine (9) blacks in Charleston, SC by a self-proclaimed white racist as they set in a church in Bible Study intensified the effort to eradicate Confederate symbolism.  This is because a picture of the killer  holding the Confederate flag apparently promoting the Confederate cause was discovered.  This discovery led to South Carolina removing the Confederate Flag from the grounds of its State House.  Many other states and cities followed suit with taking action to remove Confederate symbolism from public property.  The Charlottesville rally was initially conceived to be a protest against such removal.

As a result of the Charlottesville incident the intensity to remove Confederate symbols from public property throughout the nation increased.

Do the Confederate Symbols Bother People When They See Them?

A question that I must ask myself and I think all should ask themselves is this:

Have I walked by a Confederate Flag, Confederate Statue, and/or Confederate Monument and been bothered by it?

My answer is none have ever and do not now and will never bother me. For me they are a historical reminder that we won and they lost. For me that is something this and future generations need to remember: We won and they lost.

Yet, I understand that some people may be bothered by such symbolism. Also I must consider the larger question of why Confederate symbols exist and what value, if any, do they have regardless of whether they bother me or not.   After all, it is not just about me.

Jefferson Davis Final Resting Place Home Says They Will Take Them

A place in Biloxi Mississippi called the Jefferson Davis Hope and Presidential Library has announced it is willing to take Confederate statues taken down by any city or jurisdiction. They say in their press release “Our vision is to include the monuments as part of our historical narrative at Beauvoir. By expressing our desire for these monuments, we are in no way defending or condoning slavery, which was and is an evil institution that has no color or creed and has existed since the dawn of time.”   I think that would be a good idea if they do now and continue to operate as a private museum such that such Confederate symbols would be out of public view except for those who intentionally visit the home/library.

Relocation/Destruction Alternatives

(1) That Confederate symbols should be relegated to obscure which should be non-bottersome location (s) such as a private museums, where possible, or otherwise destroyed.

(a) Where possible Confederate symbols should be moved to an approved private museum or some similar approved private area including private cemeteries.  Such museums/areas expected primary and publicly revealed function is to be to preserve historical events and historical participants. No symbol shall be viewable by persons simply passing on a major street or highway or other well traveled areas. For example, private areas shall not intentionally be built on major highways for all to see to Confederate symbol.  Common sense shall prevail.

(b) Such museums/areas may be enclosed in private buildings or private cemeteries or delineated outside in open private space.  A cemetery functions as a historical location by its very nature.  By definition a private cemetery is a family burying ground that “has been defined by statute as one in which no lots are sold to the public and in which interments are restricted to a group of persons related to each other by blood or marriage.”  That is to say, public cemeteries should not qualify.

(2) If Confederate symbols located on such places as state capitals or court houses are too large to move to an approved private  museum/area they should be destroyed regardless of any perceived historical value and tourism income value on the part of the state or Washington D.C. If they significantly detract from us as a nation becoming a more perfect union their movement to a museum or destruction is worth the monetary cost.

(3) Areas such as Stone Mountain Georgia and Confederate Monuments at Gettysburg may be designated such a museum provided the position of both the Union and the Confederacy are completely taught and represented by Federal and/or State authorities.

 Permanent Protected Sign or Engraving Alternatives

A permanent protected sign or engraving of some sort be affixed to each monument, statue, etc. saying something to the effect of the following:  We the city of ______ of the state of _________of the nation of these United States of America due hereby declare American Slavery as evil and the American Civil War as a violation of the US Constitution and that those who supported/support it were/are wrong.  We as a nation forgive them but do not and will not support or celebrate such wrong.

Denouncements and non-support would also be required to be a part of the material (e.g., literature/pamphlets, etc.) handed out and educational activity done at such monuments as well as in all schools in the United States of America.  All students would be required to take a class on the Civil War in or about the 4th grade and the 8th grade.  The 8th grade is included since go give each student a second chance during more intellectual and morally formative years than the 4th grade.  The 4th grade gives them understanding early in their education.

 Where Does it End – What’s and Who’s Next?  How Far Do We Go?

Another question is where does it end. If the problem centers around the question of slavery then what is the logical conclusion when arrived at with integrity. One major problem I have is determining how far we go and the reason we go there.

For example, most Black American’s family last name is the name of their ancestors’ slave master.  Do we change our last name?

Also, Do we rename Washington D.C. since our first President George Washington had slaves. George Washington did not have to own slaves.  He chose to own them.

Also, do we demand the Federal, State, and Local governments rename every street named after a Confederate soldier. How about places like Ft. Lee, Ft. Bragg, and Ft. Hood?  How about Supreme Court justices?  How about schools?

In fact there has already been at least one call to remove a statue of George Washington in Chicago.  Also, Abraham Lincoln statue was apparently torched in Chicago.

Moreover, statues of the Supreme Court justice who wrote the Dred Scott ruling has been removed citing that he supported slavery.  That of course had nothing to do with the Civil War or Confederate Symbols.  The problem with removal is that they are saying that one bad decision overrode all the other good that the Supreme Court Justice did.

Also when considering the question of where does it end.  Consider that the whole take the symbols down movement is akin to the movement to force football teams who have Indian names to change their name.

A stamp has been created with Malcolm X. Malcolm X once presented all White people as devils.  He changed his mind.  But since he once declared them as devils should we not have created a stamp with his picture and name.  Perhaps so but I hope you see that there is no telling where removing symbols will lead us.

The Solution I Am Considering

The rationale for my conclusion has to deal with Confederate violation of the US Constitution in attempting to protect the institution of slavery.

To make my conclusions based on practice or support for slavery, alone, would be a slippery slope if done with integrity.  For it would mean I would have to support renaming of Washington D. C. and various streets/school, etc. named after our founding fathers as well as members of the Confederacy.  That would be a silly conclusion.

Indeed, the Confederate separation to form another nation in violation of the US Constitution amounted to treason and general illegality (US Constitution Article III Section 3 and Article IV Section 3).

Therefore, to ease tension, show humility, understanding, and compromise, in my opinion alternatives (1) and (5) as listed above seems to be the best options. Alternative 1 is most likely the best and primary solution.  Option 5 is mostly likely the second best alternative. Option 5 involves permanent protected signs or engravings; it will be addressed later.

Removal or destruction would only apply to people who took part in the Civil War as a member of the Confederacy.  For example, it would not apply to the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the decision in the Dredd Scott case in his capacity of Supreme Court Justice. It also would not apply to the founding fathers such as George Washington.

Removal or destruction would definitely apply to Confederate monuments located in State Capitals, in Local City Halls, Courthouses, and Hall of US Congress.

For the sake of unharmful compromise Option 1 should not apply to schools, streets, private or public cemeteries, private property, and similar things even regarding Confederate Generals. There should not be anything bothersome or overwhelming about a street or school name or cemetery or private property.  We all have to be grown up and not let everything bother us.  Nevertheless, if some localities desire to apply Option 1 to schools and streets that would be reasonable.  It would especially be reasonable since many African-American Schools were loss or renamed during integration.  But I think it would be unreasonable to apply Option 1 to cemeteries, public or private as cemeteries are about dead folks who can bring us no harm.

My overall reasoning is that slavery alone without association with the Civil War is not sufficient since that would mean taking action like renaming Washington D.C.  Black Americans should be grown up and compromise, be understanding, and forgive and accept Slavery alone as insufficient reason to cry against symbolism.

Option 5 – Permanent Protected Signs or Engravings

Option 5 was considered as a strong candidate but ultimately considered as the most likely second best alternative.  It was rejected as primary because for large statues such as a Confederate General sitting on a large horse, the monument would be seen from a distance but any protected sign or engraving would not be ascertainable.  Also, the mere fact that such statues exist honors the Civil War and its goal of preserving the institution of slavery. The engraving alternatives would probably be less costly than removing and relocating monuments.  But cost should not be the major factor here.

Nevertheless if the symbols are not taken down this would be a largely workable option in my thinking at this time.

 Final Words:

Let both sides be forgiving and compassionate and understanding.

Let us not be the evil we accuse others of being or having been!

Let us be mindful of what two great preachers said:

Jesus said forgive and love one another as he has loved us (Matthew 6:14-15; John 13:34).

Martin Luther King Jr. said we should not aim to humiliate the white man but rather to win his friendship.  That principle applies for all races.






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