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Confederate Symbols and Inequality


Confederate Symbols and Inequality

Sarah Anderson

The city council of Alexandria, Virginia voted on September 17 to change the name of a highway named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis and to seek the state legislature’s permission to move a statue of a rebel soldier from a busy thoroughfare in the city’s historic center.

Prior to the council’s unanimous vote, residents lined up to give their views on how to handle the city’s Civil War past. Among those in favor of getting rid of the Confederate symbols, the debate seemed to be as much about 2016 as it was about the 1860s.


I will be politically incorrect.The European slave readers bought their slaves from Arabs and native African slave traders who had obtained those slaves not uncommonly from the African tribal leaders of the day. Sorry, chaps, it ain't just we nasty white men who deserve blame.


Doesn't negate the fact that the 'nasty white men' did in fact "profited from a system of bondage that stole the most sacred rights of liberty and self-determination from our African ancestors"
That others may well have been complicit in the evil process does not relieve the 'nasty white men' from culpability. They, after all, created the expansive market that further perpetuated and enlarged the system of human trafficing.
Without such a market, there'd not be the kinds of profits to lure the unscrupulous to violate the millions of lives that they did.
Your revisionism is repugnant and vile, and it betrays a profound ignorance of the horror that was slavery in the Americas.


'Way to take responsibility for self.
Pointing outwards really drives that point home...


A symbol's meaning is in the eye of those who behold it. For instance, many in Germany wanted the concentration camps a Dachau and Buchenwald to be destroyed. The allied powers however insisted that they be preserved as a memorial and reminder of what some humans can do to others.
After the military conclusion of the US civil war, the existence of reconstruction abuses and the corresponding Jim Crow excesses in response along with the many monuments throughout the South bear eloquent witness that the "war to end slavery" did not do so.
It would be just as easy to give school children a tour of such sites in their local area with that sort of emphasis as it would be for Confederate flag waving, white sheet wearing, racists to celebrate their lost cause.
The truth is that in the US civil was there were no clean hands on either side no matter how strongly historical revisionists would insist to the contrary.


And it does become a matter of perspective and proportionality, of which this particular statue of Davis, located where it is, seems to tax the boundaries.
Waxing a bit bigoted there ol' Poet, me thinks.


"First, though, they will need to get approval from the Virginia General Assembly. And earlier this year that august body passed a bill further strengthening prohibitions against cities and counties removing war
memorials. While Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the legislation, the state legislature has sent a clear message as to whose side they’re on."

If I gave you a magic wand and with one wave you could remove every memorial reminder of the Confederate cause you would not change the minds of the people who live there.
Just like the death camps in Nazi Germany which were allowed to remain as a reminder of the sins of the past, these memorials can either be an incitement to continued bigotry or they can be an educational tool to educate all that such must never happen again.

George Santayana famously wrote," 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' the demands to expunge all monuments to the confederate cause seems to wax a bit like the ministry of truth in Orwell's 1984 Jazzbo--it won't work.


Bull shit.
As I posted, it is a matter of perspective and proportionality.
Let us remember history truthfully. The revisionism in this case is the statue itself with the over-glorification of a treasonous demigod.


Let us accurately remember Davis, Stephens, and their ilk for what they were, not as heroes mounted on noble steeds. Those things evocative of the period ought reflect the ugliness these men stood for. Lest you forget, this from Davis' vice president Alexander Stephen's 'Corner Stone Speech' delivered March 21, 1861:

"But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the 'storm came and the wind blew.'
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.
In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world."


Okay, one more time and after that I will cease trying to communicate with a mind already made up.
This world is full of monuments depicting scoundrels in a noble manner. What allows their status to continue unquestioned are not the monuments, but the ambiguity or indifference of those who should know better and speak out with those facts ignored by the monument building crowd.
For years the favorite retort of non-southerners to the citizens of Dixie concerning the Civil war was: "forget about it, you lost, get over it."
To which the apologists for the confederacy said, "forget, hell!", and built monuments, declared birthdays as state holidays, and went about busily publishing revisionist histories of that era and conflict.
You might do well to meditate on the words of Lincoln in his second inaugural address after the hostilities were ended:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, ...let us strive on to finish the work we are in, ...to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1865
Lincoln's assassination and the imposition of reconstruction by the radical Republican faction of congress made sure that work on that "just and lasting peace" was never even begun, let alone completed. The tone and attitude of your responses above reek of the same petulant radical Republican desire for revenge rather than reconciliation.
Just for the record (not that it should matter) I am not a native southerner. I grew up in Pennsylvania and learned the Yankee version of civil war history. As we all know, the victorious are allowed to write the history of their victories. That privilege does not mean that their version is an accurate account of what happened or why it happened.


I'll repeat, this is a matter of perspective and proportionality. of which, this particular statue exceeds bounds. Never once did I ever write, nor imply, that all monuments associated with the Confederacy be eliminated. For you to suggest otherwise is false and a distortion.
I disagree with your bigoted assessment that "you would not change the minds of the people who live there."---a crass stereotyping of Southerners suggesting some certain monolithic mindset.
Just for the record, I live in a former slaveholding state, and have deep familial roots in Virginia reaching back to its very founding.
Would that the statue of Davis be replaced by another of Virginia's great sons, John Minor Botts. Perhaps with acts such as that, some perspective, proportionality, and balance might be achieved in the quest to pass along a truthful historical record to those that follow.


To draw from your own analogy, though it was deemed of importance to retain some reminders of the atrocities of the Reich, statues of Hitler and the display of the swastika were not---such is an example of proportionality and perspective.


There are Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans on that wall. There's not much like that to commemorate the slaves in the South. All the groups mentioned above share one thing, though. They and theirs' were treated worse than livestock by white people. Mostly male and rich, but trailer trash rich white woman also profitted from this travesty. Now, of course, white 1%ers continue to rob and steal all the time. Their conscienceness has been raised, to be sure. Today we see them killing, stealing, lying and cheating the 99s with impunity, regardless of color. Evidence is everywhere as they continue to turn almost everything they touch into shit.


No, you are entirely incorrect. The slavery that existed in Africa before the European market opened up (and, yes, persisted in some places after it ended) was not perpetual chattel slavery. It did not involve shipping people across oceans in conditions that would be considered foolhardy if one intended for animals to arrive alive.

And no, neither does it matter that some "free persons of color" owned others. It was stolen lives, stolen labor, and a blot on our history that continues into the present.


As @Jazzbo observed, you're comparing monuments to the oppressed to monuments to the oppressors. And you're ignoring the effect that Confederate monuments such as the one in question (Jazzbo, I think this is not Davis, but a generic soldier; the "Davis" street name they were apparently able to change without the legislature's help) has on the descendants of the oppressed.

I carry this challenge with me every day of my life, because my maiden name, the k of bks, is more common in most of the country among descendants of African slaves than it is among White folks. I believe my Kellams were too poor to own slaves, and I know they were Quakers. But I can't explain that to every Black Kellam I encounter. I once stood in an elevator in NJ, silently facing the only other person in my company who had that name on his badge. I didn't know what to say then. I hope I'll know better when I have another chance.


Well, we didn't build it in Viet Nam. I once had occasion to interview an immigrant (lost his profession) who'd been in the South Vietnamese army. Yes, he chose to come here in the aftermath. but he said "We never could have imagined that the US would just abandon us like that." I doubt he has visited the memorial wall. But we didn't throw it up where he'd have to pass it every day, as some number of the citizens of Alexandria might have to consider buying a house on Jefferson Davis Street. The street before Mother Emanuel, the church in Charleston where that poor little racist killed 9 people who had prayed with him, is named for a Confederate leader and slaveholder.

There are places to recognize history, but we don't have to rub people's noses in the history of their oppression.


It isn't a coincidence that the Confederate Flag is the most popular hate symbol in Europe. There is not ambiguity about its meaning outside the US.


I will grant you that slavery is a blot on any group that practices it. I am simply tired of reverse racism against those of us with the misfortune to be born melanin-challenged, though I suppose it is a useful adaptation if one lives in high latitudes and needs to manufacture vitamin D from our feeble sunlight. No whitie alive has had anything to with the trans-Atlantic slave trade that we Brits put an end to in the early 1800s, though no doubt it continued in the USA till the mid-1860s. So, don't try hanging guilt on this whitie.Similar cruelties continue today in one form or the other and are practised by scum of many colours; all are reprehensible.

And a PS. Africans were certainly complicit in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. And the Arab slave trade in Africa ,east and west, had nothing to do with benevolence; it was as much "chattel" slavery as any.Zanzibar hosted a major Arabic slave market.


Is it? Really?


I reckon the USA should build a wall to commemorate the 3 million Vietnamese it killed (never mind the Cambodians and Laotians who also died). That wall is a joke; USAians killed more USAians in the USA between 1965 and 1975 than were killed by the Vietnamese in Vietnam during the same period.