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Monumental Questions

The events in (and following) Charlottesville are myriad and complex. There is a stew of issues bubbling and boiling. To name but a few: race, Neo-Nazism, history, culture, the Civil War, monuments, art, speech, accountability, Trump & Co., ancestors, and many more.

The easy part (for most people) is denouncing the hate, white supremacy, and violence. I can pat myself on the back and tell myself that’s not me, that’s not what I believe, and I’m against it in all forms. I very much dislike hatred, and work to make the world a better place as best I can.

The harder part is figuring out what to do about the rest of it. Where is that free speech line again? What is art?

Here are a few of the questions I’ve been wrestling with recently:

Should someone be fired for their political beliefs?

Should one be free to say whatever they want while off the job?

Should freedom of speech be limited to “nice” speech?

Should statues of Confederates be taken down?

Should monuments to slaveholders be taken down?

Should Union memorials and monuments be removed from northern cities?

Is anyone squeaky-clean enough to have a monument to them erected?

Should public artwork never offend?

Should we destroy artwork? Should it be preserved somewhere?

Is there a context that can be provided that is appropriate for displaying things we no longer think are appropriate?

Can the Civil War be studied and remembered without flags and monuments?

Shall we hate the haters?

Where do we want to end up?


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Yesterday’s comment from Greg Palast

So, that’s the news from Trump’s USA. Nazis marching in the street, nuclear war with Korea, the “military option” for Venezuela. And it’s only Monday.


Shoulder to shoulder

Too many questions of depth to take on at once, but an idea about the monuments...

It occurred to me that a compromise which both 'honors' history, as well as signals progress would be to take all the Confederate monuments and rather than destroy them, place them in a pit, and cover it in dirt. Extensive re-excavation will reveal what would be an American Heritage version of the Chinese Terra Cotta soldiers. 

I do know that the Terra Cotta Army was initally intened to travel across the bardo to fight for the Emperor. This memorial would differ, in that the 'Army' would invoke a past time, and the visages of Soldiers would be not revered or vilified, but cast to the sands of time, and presevered for those who wished to visit and think upon the history.


"It's wiser not to keep open the sores of war"

(NYTimes) Eric Foner, a Civil War historian, author and professor of history at Columbia University, said of Robert E. Lee, that after the war, Lee did not support rights for black citizens, such as the right to vote, and was largely silent about violence perpetrated by white supremacists during Reconstruction.

The general did, however, object to the idea of raising Confederate monuments, writing in 1869 that, “I think wiser not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.



Will have to look for the source, but...

I read somewhere this week that many of the Confederate monuments were erected, not after the Civil War, but during the height of the Jim Crow laws, and more were erected during the growing Civil Rights movements in the 50s and 60s.


Found one source


The United Daughters of the Confederacy most influential group

[history.com] “All of those monuments were there to teach values to people,” Elliott says. “That’s why they put them in the city squares. That’s why they put them in front of state buildings.” Many earlier memories had instead been placed in cemeteries.

The values these monuments stood for, he says, included a “glorification of the cause of the Civil War.”

White women were instrumental in raising funds to build these Confederate monuments. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded in the 1890s, was probably the most important and influential group, Elliott says.

In fact, the group was responsible for creating what is basically the Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy: a gigantic stone carving of Davis, Lee and Jackson in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Its production began in the 1910s, and it was completed in the 1960s.



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