Yes, tributes to Confederate soldiers are coming down all around the southern states. The “erasing our history” argument is pretty well worn at this point and it’s getting old. It also doesn’t hold water. I keep hearing that advocates of this kind of change are trying to re-write and erase history. The purpose of erecting a statue of someone or naming a building for a person is to honor them. These things are done in tribute.

I’ve never learned much by looking at a statue or by walking into a building because of the name attached to it. If your knowledge of the Civil War came from looking at statues and recognizing the names of generals on buildings and roadways, then I’m afraid you’ve missed quite a bit.

I understand that these names and figures might not mean supporting a return to slavery or the support of bigotry to you. But let’s be clear: the Confederacy rebelled against the Union to retain the right to own and exploit human beings. If you don’t agree with this, look no further than Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone Address. It was given weeks before the start of the Civil War, and in it he states in no uncertain terms the fundamental differences between Confederate and Union ideals.

He states “Our new government’s foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man.”

It could not be more clearly stated. He explicitly states that the disagreement about slavery was the immediate cause of secession.

If you don’t believe this or have never heard of it, please read it. Not knowing or acknowledging this while propping up Confederate heroes is to disregard history, not preserve it. It’s hard to hear arguments about erasing and rewriting history from the same people who support the idea of the Civil War being about protecting the southern way of life and states’ rights. The pot never met a blacker kettle.

I have yet to hear anyone calling for an end to educating ourselves and our children about the strife and conflicting principles that led to the war or the horrors that it brought. If it’s about preserving history, we should be naming buildings and schools for the indigenous people who were forced from the lands we now call home.

Symbols mean different things to different people. But if you can read the quote above from Stephens and not understand how someone sees symbols of the Confederacy as symbols of hate, and as an affront to their very existence as Americans, that is willful ignorance at best. If you can understand this and continue to believe and fight for the idea that these symbols stand for your heritage despite what they mean to others, I worry that is something worse than ignorance.

There are plenty of Southern traditions more worthy of our time and energy. Hospitality and care and consideration for your neighbor are a nice start.

Zach Motyka lives in Harrisonburg.

(12) comments

GWead

For somebody whose knowledge of history stops at about 1870, Mr Tate is doing a great job.

DeftCurmudgeon

I haven't seen Democrats this outraged since we freed their slaves or disbanded their KKK or stymied their attempts to derail civil rights legislation.

sbsheridan

Excellent writing, Mr. Motyka.

bootsielawson

Why did he ignore the strategic demonkkkrats who started the Northern Invasion? Why did he not say who owned these slaves? Because he hopes you are uneducated and don't know only demonkkkrats owned slaves! He hopes you don't know blacks and whites joined together to form the Republican party to FIGHT SLAVERY. That modern demonkkrat inner cities are an example of modern slave plantation as demonstrated by Thomas Sowell.

sbsheridan

Give it a break, Bootsie. We've all heard the nonsense you repeat from the crazy websites your read. Only Democrats owned slaves? The Republican party was formed primarily to fight slavery? You need to enlarge your reading selections a bit. Your hatred of Democrats has been noted. And noted and noted and noted. You're not picking up a whole lot of converts with your one-note rants, so just give it a rest.

prodigalson

Bootsie is correct M S. You Demokkkrats can't run from your racist history.

sbsheridan

Open your eyes, Prod. Democrats are not running from anything. We're proving what we are and what we believe through our actions. We're shaking off the accusations that bigoted people with incomplete knowledge of history throw up on dubious websites. We're not buying into your definitions of what is good and what is evil. Neither you not Bootsie have the power to define who I am and what I believe in.

prodigalson

Well M S, you did make one correct statement. You Demokkkrats are certainly proving what you are and what you are not. Look no further than Demokkkrat Governor Ralph Coonman Northam, for whom you voted, knowing full well that he is a proven Klansman, and that he advocates the cold blooded murder of black babies right up through the ninth month of pregnancy, and even after they have been born. Yes, you Demokkkrats are certainly proving who you are, and who you are not. Additionally, I'm not sure where you got the idea that people can simply "redefine" right and wrong. Right and wrong is not defined by you, and it is not defined by me. Right and wrong is defined by Almighty God. Murdering babies is wrong, and racism is wrong. You should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting otherwise.

Diana

sbsheridan...Very well said!!

R B Tate

Removing and destroying Confederate history is so yesterday, Zach. You appear to be insufficiently woke. That was just the start, with so much more work in progress. Like memorials to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham “Send ‘em back to Africa” Lincoln, abolitionist Mathias Baldwin, Ulysses S. Grant, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, John Muir, John Sutter, Theodore Roosevelt. And of course, Christopher Columbus, arguably the most evil villain of all.

Donald

Succinctly stated, Mr. Tate. As they would say in England, “Spot on.”

prodigalson

Spot on indeed. Great post R B.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.