Fear And Ignorance 1 History And Reason 0

I read the story of New Orleans removing a Robert E. Lee statue with much dismay.

I can but nod my head at how shallow are supposed advanced intelligence is. How removing a statue makes anyone feel better in any meaningful manner is beyond comprehension for me.

N-O is by no means unique when it comes to this sort of symbolic flatulence. Quebec quietly has, where possibly, moved to remove the English fact in the province. Where they can erase by removing or replacing, they will do it.

It's upsetting but it's how it goes with insecure nationalist forces.

In the United States, it's an obscure obsession with erasing the slavery fact and the current discourse on race - which is going nowhere. It's not a national conversation on the way; it's one side simply telling the other to shut their white privileged asses up, listen and do what they're told because slavery. Even though the vast majority of these people have never experienced and aren't connected to anyone who went through the institution. It's a little like if the Irish demand reparations for indentured servants.

Never mind that when we consult the history and facts of human slavery throughout the centuries, America's slavery periods was among the least violent despite its evilness. It's worth noting it was the 'white' American society that abolished it while slavery today continues unabated in other parts of the world.

It was a moment in history and continuing to rehash rather than letting lie in the back pages of history is not healthy. The black community is not going to progress if it focuses too much on something that's long since past and demanding whites be fed a lard of guilt is most certainly going to backfire.

People, as a whole, mean well. Push even the non-racist people and they will push back. It's a matter for principle and respect at some point. Keep broadly painting everyone as racist - even to the point of claiming we're unaware of our racism - and there will be unintended consequences and a backlash; probably it's already underway.

Removed from the meek symbolic gesture of removing a statue it actually teaches people not to explore the full story of an event and the figures behind it.

You can remove the statue, but you can't run from the heritage. Nor is it a sign of moral advancement to continue to pummel the losing side.

This is the crux of the problem as I see it. When people read history, they tend to impose their modern sensibilities on the era they're reading. Of course, the past will always look 'barbaric' to us. In fact, we commit the same moral and intellectual posture as people who asserted in the past their own era was superior to the previous; which usually was indeed the case. It's only normal. We tend to be an advancing species as technology, health and wealth improves.

Back to Lee.

"The city of New Orleans on Friday dismantled its statue of Robert E. Lee, the last of four Confederate monuments to come down. The removals have divided the community along familiar lines. One camp denounces the monuments as tributes to white supremacists. The other argues the memorials honor men who protected their states from an intrusive federal government. Is it possible that both sides have a point?"

It's rather tragic really. Robert E. Lee was an interesting figure from a momentous moment in American history. In knocking him down, we forget the work he did forever condemned for his position during the war. Obama was against gay marriage and was said to evolve into accepting it and everyone applauded his change of heart (whether it was sincere is another matter).

Yet, we seem to choose who we extend this applaud to.

For example, Lee following the war he spent much of his post-war life working towards reconciliation between the North and South, and between whites and blacks.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, for his part, eventually repudiated the KKK and also worked for racial reconciliation.

Is this not something they should be commended for?

Contrast this to documented facts of Lincoln who thought blacks were inferior and that they be sent back to Liberia.

Yet, his statue is safe and sound.

This is the problem when you go political. You spin out of control and lose any sense of perspective.

We see this with how The Constitution is treated. It goes something like going from 'You mean they had slaves' to 'Why do we need it?' in under five seconds. The faulty premise leads to an untenable conclusion.

Perhaps Lee should have known better given he was well-read and had to have known of the Abolutionist movement, but this is why we examine history carefully understanding all the factors and conditions of the period free of our judgment.

History is a fragile art form. It's vulnerable to the whims and perceptions of the reader; and quite frankly historians with an ideological bent, as the one in the article, are no better and don't advance the spirit of history. Carefully examine the primary, secondary and tertiary sources (oft subjective and without firm representation other than the authors) can be a challenge but along the way, you see the picture and images develop. And it is here where an astute reader will begin to drop their personal modern thoughts and stop imposing it on the past. If they do this, they just unlocked a better understanding of their past.

If we keep the deception up, we may as well erect statues of athletes and celebrities (and of course, we won't consider their past or backgrounds provided they fit the narratives).

The author in the link above concludes:

"And so we spiral down this Stalinist path of history-flattening and monument-erasure, one side waving a battle flag that Robert E. Lee himself renounced, the other insisting that every man who wore gray was little different than Leonardo DiCaprio’s caricature in “Django Unchained.” Americans long ago abandoned Lincoln’s admonition—malice toward none, charity for all—and in some important ways the U.S. is less united today than in 1866.
In a world of demons and angels, we can’t agree on who’s which. And we don’t have the charity in our hearts to admit most of us are somewhere in between."

Idiocracy indeed.



1 comment:

  1. A lot of institutions which would eventually go on to achieve great things and even become legendary have had unsavory, shaky and corrupt beginnings and roots.

    The U.S. with the forced displacement of the earlier inhabitants (who were already living here and had their own established cultures) by the newcomers who decided it was "God's will" that they now were the "new owners" of this land and, as such, had "the right to" take it over and replace it with their cultures and standards.

    As unpleasant as the past conduct of mankind is, denying it or trying to "forget about" our past evils and misdeeds out of shame and embarrassment is little more than tantamount to committing collective fraud.

    Plus it gives us a false sense of having been "redeemed" which, without any change in human nature, makes us vulnerable to committing similar misdeeds in the future as we mistakenly feel we've somehow been "reformed" and now have "a better sense of 'right' and 'wrong'"


Mysterious and anonymous comments as well as those laced with cyanide and ad hominen attacks will be deleted. Thank you for your attention, chumps.