A suggestion on how to proceed with confederate monuments

I live in a county that had a confederate monument. It was taken down last year.

Republicans voted to take it down over the objections of fellow Republicans. Where were the democrats?  Well - we only have 1 on the county commission and he's only there because it's mandated by law that we have at least 1 district that is safe for a black representative to have a seat. But when the commission is 6 to 1 - that one - has zero politcal power. FYI - my county is 45% democratic. We have no political power. None.

Yes, this structural disparity that prevents people from accessing seats of power is intentional. I live in a county with a really seriously racist past.  WE have lynchings and massacres and hid the vice president of the confederacy when the union was looking to arrest him at the end of the war. He got away and practices law in England.

And yet- despite all that. And despite the openly racist confederate loving folks on the county commission, republicans leading the commission were able to force a vote to take it down. Yay.

The opposition to taking down the monuments is 2 fold. 1. racists don't like their symbols of power being taken away from them. And the fact that they no longer wield enough power in their own party to keep these things up is upsetting to them too.   

The 2nd part is the lies they tell to rationalize it to gain non-racist support for these publicly funded symbols of terrorism. The main lie is taking them down is erasing history.  In reality - keeping them up - silences history. The history of the victims of the racial terrorism perpetrated by the people who put the things up.

The people who put this thing up - are still in the community. They are the "founding families" of the community and have historically wielded a lot of political power. The people who were victimized by these folks - are still in the community too. But they have never wielded power in our community. So much so - that their stories are only just starting to be told in our museums.

Why are the stories of part of our community silenced?  Because they were victims of crimes perpetrated by the "founding families."They had their land stolen. Their families members were killed by the "founding families."  There are people in our community - alive today who were forced to do farm work without pay under threat of death - by members of the "founding families" and the police that they controlled.  This isn't ancient history. Those people - the victims of crimes and the perpetrators of crimes - are still in the community.

These statues are monuments erected by criminals who were celebrating their power to commit crimes with no repercussions. When they talk about the historical significance of these statues, they are intentionally excluding certain people's stories from "history."  Why? Because to allow those stories requires admitting that really horrendous crimes were committed by members of our community - against other members of our community. When they talk about community - they exclude the victims of their crimes - otherwise they would have to admit to the crimes that were committed.

So what should we do - to make sure we remember history?  We need to make sure the full history - including the history of the crimes that were committed are told.   And all this came up because I was talking with a friend the other day about another county that took down their confederate statue and she said it was sad. It's not sad. It's something to celebrate because we are finally acknowledging the crimes that were committed. We cannot and should not allow families that committed crimes to continue to dictate what our history is.  We cannot have reconsiliation as a community - if we don't acknowledge the truth about our history.

This does not require us to demonize anyone. But it does require us to acknowledge the people who were victimized as victims.

I want to quote a historian about what to do about this, Dave Rondon.
He wrote: "The people angry at this say "it's history and it needs to stay up so we remember and won't repeat it." To those people I say that the Germans did the same to monuments representing Nazi Generals and Hitler himself after WW2 and then made it illegal to fly that Nazi flag or do the salute because they are ashamed of the bad history there. However, they did leave up the gas chambers and concentration camps as museums so they would never forget the victims. Why can't we do like them? Just replace the statues with a memorial for all the slaves that suffered at the hands of confederates? "

My desire is that we get rid of the monuments celebrating the criminals and replace them with a memorial of the victims. That way we never forget and never repeat history.  We don't forget either.

Anyone who has been to Pearl Harbor knows, we didn't put up a monument celebrating the skills and dedication of the Japanese soilders that attacked. Pearl Harbor is a memorial to the victims. The World Trade Center doesn't have a monument celebrating Osama Bin Laden, but they do have a memorial.

It's possible to have a memorial and stay on the right side of history, but not if we only remember the oppressors and lie about how wonderful they were - when the reality is - they committed crimes against people in our community.

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