I’ve been reading lately about the heated atmosphere surrounding the removal of statues of Confederate figures in New Orleans. I know those statues and have often used them to give directions to people attempting to get to various places in the French Quarter. I’ve followed the story of their plight with some interest, as I am from the South and this IS a particularly and peculiarly Southern problem. The South is dotted with statues, obelisks, plaques, and other monuments to the glorious heroes and fighters of the Lost Cause. Now, mind you, when you grow up in the South, as a young child it can be a LONG TIME before anyone ever tells you THAT THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO LOST THE WAR! I had extraordinary parents who did do and at an early age. I reasonably asked,”Then why are there statues of them everywhere?” My father sighed and replied, “This is the South; that is a difficult question; you’re much too young for hard liquor.”
Personal history aside, I’ve heard the arguments that we should leave these things up for the sake of history and as some sort of teaching instuments. I find those argument totally and completely spurious. For the sake of history? Like the entire South is going to have a complete bout of amnesia, should the monuments get taken down? The battles of the Civil War and the struggles upon which it was based-that of slavery and man’s oh-so-human urge to trample wholesale on the rights of others based on skincolor-are soaked into the very soil of the Southern states. Southerners, whether there by birth or geographical accident and whatever their race-are confronted with the legacy of the slavery every day, like it or not. I hardly think that the absence of some statues will make us forget. Not when we’ve got neighbors who persist in flying the Confederate flag from their pick-up truck or porch. Not when we’ve got the legacy of Jim Crow lingering in our voting districts, our laws and our attitudes. Not when when we’ve got a resurgence of white supremacists looking back fondly to a society that exists only in fiction and calling it the South. I’m not sorry to see the statues et al. coming down. As for the “Never forget!” contingent, some of us are busy trying to build a new society, not hark back to the Old Dixie that lives mainly in your beer cans and fevered imagination.