Of course let’s remove the statue of General Lee and all Confederate soldiers. But let’s not put them in storage until some bureaucrat decides where to hide them. No, we need to take jack hammers to these offending inanimate objects and then put the pieces through cement crushers. Reduce them to dust.

What’s that you say, most of the Confederate soldiers did not own slaves and were fighting invaders of their states that were trying to force them back into a union they had joined on their own volition and had every right to leave.

Doesn’t matter, they have to go. And the graves of these brave men must be bulldozed over and then lime must be spread over the dirt to totally eliminate the remains. There, don’t we all feel better? We have erased history and heritage to appease and placate the vandals, looters, arsonists and pampered/clueless millennials who have little or no knowledge of history.

But we still feel empty, don’t we? I have it. We have to burn Jefferson’s Monticello and Madison’s Montpelier to the ground. The mere sight of them is just too painful. They were slaveholders you know. James Madison University? Name must be changed.

But why just Southern soldiers and leaders? We need to expand our rage. A campaign must be started immediately to remove all statues of and monuments to U.S. Army Gens. William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan.

Let’s not forget that in the 28-year span of the Plains Indian Wars from 1862 to 1890, the same top military leaders who commanded the Union Army in the Civil War were also the top military commanders in the U.S. Army’s war of genocide against the Plains Indians. And unfortunately, Lincoln, “the Great Emancipator," cannot be given a pass. He authorized the 1862 Pacific Railway Act, instigating a systematic program of either extermination or relocation of the Plains Indians, precipitating the Plains Indian Wars. Also, Lincoln, as commander in chief, oversaw Union commanders Gen. John Pope and Col. John Chivington, who were responsible for the Dakota War of 1862 and the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.

These Union leaders and soldiers were especially heinous because they slaughtered defenseless old men, women and children. (Letter from Sherman to Grant — “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children.”)

Do I really believe all the above should be implemented? Of course not. I was being derisive. But, if the politically correct historians and social justice zealots of today deem Southern history so wrong, they cannot give a pass to the Northern policy of genocide. If we are going to go down this road, let’s be honest with ourselves as a nation and start scrubbing clean all the names in American history who have directly or indirectly been racists and contributed to atrocities — and not just those from the South.

“The Southern soldier died for his country. Success is not Patriotism. Defeat is not Rebellion”.

Mike Muterspaugh lives in Harrisonburg.

(18) comments

LVW

Leave them, move them, I don't really care. But it seems to me that the statue of Teddy Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC is more offensive than any statue of a Confederate soldier that sits in one of the former capitals of the Confederacy.

bishopsboy

LVW, what's so offensive? The fact that there are 3 proud, strong men of different races and a horse rather than a transsexual, Muslim, Antifa member, and pussycat comprising the statue?

prodigalson

Now that's funny right there Bishop, I don't care who you are.

sbsheridan

Mr. M -- Your Open Forum piece was well written. You did a great job of drawing the reader in, proceeding logically, springing your conclusion on readers.

I sat up, of course, when you mentioned Sheridan. Your inclusion of this rather nasty man -- but noted military tactician -- was appropriate; even my husband, who holds the connection to General Phil, would have agreed. The General is purportedly the coiner of the adage, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

I think, however, that there is a notable difference between statues of Confederate soldiers and statues of Union soldiers. In my experience, most Northerners would recognize the misdeeds of their long-ago military leaders, and the undesirability of holding such men up as model citizens. Many residents of the South, however, seem to hold their former leaders up as examples of a golden age that is sorely missed. This same attitude may be behind the continued display of the Stars and Bars throughout the South. It is here, in the idolization of people and objects who represent a culture based on slave labor, that great offense is taken.

We need not forget our past. However, we need not glorify a social system that enslaved one people for the benefit of another.

Mike Muterspaugh

sbsheridan-Golly jee whiz Ms. Sheridan you are making me blush; not used to such praise. Seriously, very nice. “In my experience, most Northerners WOULD”. You see Susan that is presumptive on your part. And in fact, if true, the word you should have used is “have”. They have not. All this is in the eyes of the beholder. You make the comment “former leaders”. But, many of the statues were of non-descript citizen shoulders who fought the invaders of their states. I see a southern soldier that endured unbelievable privation; little food to the point of starvation, little clothing, many times no shoes, using inferior smooth bore muskets against modern rifled weapons, no navy, lesser artillery, little manufacturing capabilities’, very little infrastructure and almost always outnumbered. And they gave more than they took. I have been able to identify 4 relatives (my family came from Lexington) that fought for the South. One is listed in the book of killed and wounded at Gettysburg. He is buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington. Two were still with Gen. Lee at Appomattox. They were all dirt poor and illiterate. It would never have crossed their minds to own slaves; and they did not. Was slavery an integral part of the War of Northern Aggression (that irritates you doesn’t Ms. Sheridan?), of course. But it was only made so for political gain by Lincoln. Did Lincoln call for 75,000 volunteers to free the Slaves? No. He called for them to force the Southern States back into a union they chose to leave. You see Ms. Sheridan, the “winner” always writes the history.

I have visited almost all the major battle sites in Virginia and many in Maryland and Pennsylvania and there are many statutes of northern soldiers. I have no problem looking at them. And no Ms. Sheridan, there is no notable difference between Southern statutes or northern statues. A statue is a statute. If the Southern statutes represent a culture based on slavery, then the northern statutes represent a culture based on genocide. And let me gently remind you that the slaves were brought to America by northern slave traders, in slave ships built by northern shipyards. And even when new slaves were outlawed by Congress these slave traders then switched to selling the Africans to countries in South America where the average live span, after selling, was 18 months. And sometime in the future, Ms. Sheridan, I would like to have a conversation on northern manufacturing seat shops where children and women were worked almost to death and then discarded like so much chaff. You are certainly welcome to your opinion Ms. Sheridan, just not your own facts. Again, thank you for your kind words.

sbsheridan

I did not claim to be stating facts. I noted several times that I was writing about my impressions.

Lee Foerster

I would certainly concur that your comments are very presumptive. My Father, a native Chicagoan, often commented on the attitude taken by " northerners" He often stated that the "de facto" segregation in the North was as bad if not worse that what occurred below the Mason Dixon Line.

sbsheridan

No, the phrase "War of Northern Aggression" does not irritate me. I understand its origins. However, I do become frustrated by the attempts of some to omit slavery as one of the causes of that war. There were many abolitionists in the North demanding that military action be taken against the South for its refusal to outlaw slavery, not unlike the pressures Not unlike the demands of some citizens that George W. Bush invade Iraq in retribution for Saddam Hussein's actions. Finally, I am well aware of the suffering of men, women, and children at the hands of Northern industrialists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, I do not see proponents of that period in US history displaying flags of the era or dressing in period clothing to celebrate times past.

Mike Muterspaugh

sbsheridan-Those sweatshops shops did not occur in the late nineteenth century. They existed while the abolitionists were demanding the slaves be freed.

"The manner in which these women lived, the squalidness and unhealthy location and nature of their habitations, the impossibility of providing for any of the slightest recreations or moral or intellectual culture or of educating their children can be easily imagined; but we assure the public that it would require an extremely active imagination to conceive the reality.”

— New York Daily Tribune, March 7, 1845

The "War" happened in part from the actions of the abolitionists. They funded John Brown's raid. The southerners could not fathom that whites would encourage slaves to kill whites. Especially after the Nat Turner rebellion where over 50 whites were murdered by blacks. John Brown's raid was one of the catalysts that pushed the south to secede. And just for interest, in 1712 slaves comprised 20% of New York City's population. There was an uprising and 21 of the slaves were killed in public executes.

And as far as celebrating "times past", many "old respected" northern families live in mansions on estates that were built on the sweat and blood of the slave trade and sweatshops. They celebrate in silent luxury.

Canoe12

It is truly laughable that Mike had to create his own extremist position in order to argue with himself about history and the removal of statues that glorify treason and genocide. Then, as if all irony is dead, he goes on to praise the African-American History Museum in DC as an informative, appropriate way to capture and preserve the history of the United States.

Let's follow Mike's advice. Put the statues in a museum where they belong.

Mike Muterspaugh

Canoe12-You're an idiot. Maybe you should read with comprehension and not conflate and confuse my Open Forum article with Mr. Poplar's response on this site.You are an embarrassment to yourself. Talk about irony. There are institutions where you, and those of your ilk, should be placed. And it's not a museum.

Canoe12

Mike,

My apologies. I mistakenly credited you with the intelligent suggestion for the preservation of historical artifacts and an accurate retelling of our country's history in a MUSEUM. You are obviously very upset about it, having called me "an idiot" and suggesting that I should be institutionalized for my grevious transgression. 🙄

As for your suggestions on how to preserve all history, including what you call a "Northern policy" of Native American genocide, perhaps you would consider visiting the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston. I believe you would find it enlightening to study the history of Native American genocide in that proud Southern state of Texas. Better yet, start a petition to the Trump administration to restore funding for National American Indian Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. And tell Trump to stop mocking Native Americans.

Oops, did I upset you again with that last suggestion? My apologies.

Mike Muterspaugh

Canoe-Canoe- I’m simply saying that if you are going to masquerade as a pompous sage and start disseminating advice to others, then get your story straight. A MUSEUM? Well, if they were in museums for the past 4 months, especially in D.C, how many people would have been able to see them? And if they were congregated in a MUSEUM in D.C. people would have to drive, in some instances, thousands of miles to see them. Do you comprehend the enormity of some of these “artifacts”? Probably not. You liberals tend not to think too far ahead. And if additional space is constructed the cost to heat, cool and maintain that huge space. And how convenient that the monuments would be in a building where the vandals and arsonists can just block the entrance. And since the raging liberals would have “disbanded” the police, who would stop them? Also makes it really easy to burn or blow them all up in one fell swoop, doesn't it?. They wouldn’t have to travel to many locations would they. And did you ever ask the MUSEUMS if they would be happy to take the statues/monuments? “We would argue that the “put them in a museum” response to Confederate memorials reflects a misunderstanding of what museums are for—and an effort to sidestep conversations that we really need to have”.-Smithsonian Institute.

Once again, (you just can’t get it straight, can you) I made no suggestions on how to preserve all history. That would make me as pompous as yourself. I was perfectly happy with things the way they were. And how in the name of all that is holy, have you dragged Trump into this. Oops, I forgot everything is Trump’s fault is not it Canoe. He may have mocked Native Americans when he was just a business mogul building casinos in competition with Native Americans, but the only Native American I can find that he has “mocked” as President is Elizabeth Warren. Oops again. She isn’t a Native American is she Canoe? In fact, since becoming President Trump has signed three bills that greatly benefited some Native Americans. The three bills include compensation to the Spokane tribe for the loss of their lands in the mid-1900s, reauthorization of funding for Native language programs and federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana.

And finally, I could give a rat’s a!! whether you credit me with “intelligent suggestions”. You craft an Open Forum and dispute what I said instead of hiding behind a fake name and posting opinions on a site that maybe a couple hundred people see or read.

James Poplar

Great letter and on target Mike ! The National Museum of African American History and American Culture opened in 2016, is proudly situated on D.C.’s National Mall. The museum spares no effort in documenting and displaying all facets of the Black experience in America, to include the institution and experience of slavery. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all equally on display, encouraging all visitors to draw their own conclusions.

Among the speakers at the opening was Former President George W. Bush, who had these words for the assembled crowd:

“A great nation does not hide its history; it faces its flaws and corrects them.”

Now, cut to 2020. Over the past several weeks, angry mobs have destroyed and defaced historical statues in an attempt to “right history.” Oddly enough, statues of individuals who had no connection whatsoever to the institution of slavery were removed or vandalized. In fact, a statue of my ancestor Matthias Baldwin, standing at the northwest corner of City Hall Philadelphia, was vandalized even though, as a committed abolitionist, he established a school in the city for Black children. If this makes sense to you, please tell me how.

While slavery will forever stain our past, it is a part of the American experience that no American of good conscience would deny or paper over. Yet, many seem to think that if the iconography of history can be erased, the actual past will go away with it.

It’s not just happening here. On June 6, a statue of Abraham Lincoln in London’s Parliament Square was defaced and vandalized. His connection to American slavery is probably not how the vandals’ leaders described it. These monuments erected long ago to honor a dying generation of southern Civil War veterans is offensive to a portion of our population. I get that. So, is re-writing history the answer? Do we change the story to give it a happy ending? That is not only a futile task, but a slap in the face to people trying their best to use that history to heal America’s racial divide.

How shall we deal with monuments to men such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were slaveowners but were also responsible for the founding of this great republic? Do we obliterate their memory and vital role in our history by removing all their images and stories, and pretending they never lived or died?

The Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland was the largest concentration camp and extermination center. Over 1.1 million men, women and children were cruelly murdered there. If ever there was a symbol of pure evil that merited being bulldozed it was Auschwitz. Yet it stands today and is visited by thousands. Why does it stand? Because its best use is as a reminder of the real history that was the Holocaust - Adolf Hitler’s mad attempt to destroy the Jewish race.

In 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Auschwitz and remarked, “Remembering the crimes ... is a responsibility which never ends. It belongs inseparably to our country. To be aware of this responsibility is part of our national identity, our self-understanding as an enlightened and free society.”

You may also recall ISIS’s crazed attempt to destroy all vestiges of ancient Christian imagery and edifices because that particular slice of history did not fit their view of the world. As hard as they tried, they could not erase history. History may be brutal, ugly, or merely politically incorrect, but it is the unpleasant history from which we stand to learn the most. For decades, Japanese schoolchildren could not read about World War II in their history textbooks, because it cast Japan in a bad light. Years of worldwide condemnation and ridicule finally changed that situation. Is the US ready to head down that same shameful path?

We all learn, from the examples of others, to face our challenges head-on, acknowledge our failings and move forward. Pretending bad times and bad things never happened does nothing to “correct” our history, much less our future behavior. As Americans we are still better than that. Future generations of Americans will thank us for the honesty we show in preserving and learning from our past rather than covering it up.

prodigalson

Excellent post James. You should submit this post in an Open Forum.

newshound

Mr. M, Bravo!

R B Tate

Great letter Mike! Deo vindice.

“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.”

Lt. General Stephen Dill Lee, Commander General,

United Confederate Veterans,

New Orleans, Louisiana, April 25, 1906

prodigalson

Mike, this is one of the best pieces I've ever read. Well done.

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