We have been recently admonished by our president that memorials to figures of the Confederacy are merely part of our “cultural history,” and why on earth would anyone wish to erase that? Oh, I don’t know. You won’t find a single statue of Hitler or Mengele anywhere in Germany and there’s a place whose cultural history goes back centuries farther than the American experience. The holocaust still looms large in the universal hippocampus, and yet the Germans don’t salute the losing side of history and decency with likenesses of the biggest assholes the world has ever known. I think we can honor history, pay heed to it and possibly even learn a few things without casting the villains in bronze. After all, it’s Jesus we see wherever Christianity is sold—not the Romans who crucified him.
Perhaps, as with most things, what we need to do is bring the discussion home—down to a personal level that makes it easier to digest. I will start with myself.
I have lost battles and I have lost wars and like the proud sons and daughters of the Confederacy, I am still standing. Of course I was humbled, educated, embarrassed, horrified, cowed and spanked by my losses so the last thing I would want to do is erect any sort of monument to my greatest blunder/s.
My first divorce lawyer lead me into battle like we were gonna land a few solid body blows up front, which would guaranty in the long run I’d own D Day. Although my lawyer was, on paper, a far better qualified human to practice jurisprudence (and spell it) than my husband’s drinking buddy, it is never wise to underestimate functionally illiterate degenerate alcoholics.
We strode into battle suited up with motions, depositions, statements and affidavits. They staggered in with the dumb luck of zombie barflies and waltzed out with the good china that was a wedding gift from my friends, which was soon thereafter sold to purchase lap dances at a strip club on Milwaukee’s south side.
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, whose own relatives want his bronzes taken down across the South, once famously said, “I am more afraid of alcohol than of all the bullets of the enemy.” He may have been an asshole, but it turns out he was a smarter asshole than my attorney. Neither deserves a place outside (or inside) a courthouse.
So rather than “erasing history,” which is what our president says is the result of removing the statues, let’s take the statues down and commemorate the cultural history they represent by, oh, I don’t know, putting shit in a history book perhaps. What, it’s already there? Get out!
I guess you’d need to read books, or have read them, in order to appreciate that they contain slightly more depth than television news and whatever malarkey you find on the internet. When someone has taken the time to write a book, a history book in particular, a tremendous amount of research has been done so that the book contains something known as facts.
Many people question facts because they do not want to believe, for example, that the world is round or that Adam and Eve did not saddle up and ride a T Rex to their wedding.
Doubting that something is real does not change the realness of that thing no matter how badly you want it to be something else, like the truth. We laughed when Dubya said “truthiness.” Today, he reads like a freakin’ genius.
In the case of history, where the facts are verifiable because of documents, relics, ruins, carbon dating and such, books are a super great place to acquire the knowledge you need in order to sound intelligent when you speak. Statues clearly do not give you that edge. Sure, there’s something big, cold and cunning in our version of monoliths—we’ve taken short, often chubby, usually pompous looking men and made them bigger than life, but a statue misleads just by virtue of its being a statue.
Who’d be stupid enough, the reasoning goes, to erect a monument to a loser?
Ask the living descendants of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis who are begging authorities to remove the statues of their respective relatives in every place they exist under the sun. No decent people want to be associated with slavery. It is a stain on their very own family history. What does that say about the people who think the statues stand for American culture?