Svetlana, thanks for joining the conversation. But you misquoted me. I wrote “to those who think that removing Confederate memorial is erasing history, I have a four-word rebuttal…” You conflate removing monuments with erasing history.
History is the study of previous events. Books, journals, periodicals are documented records of history. Monuments are not history. Monuments are memorials to ideas, concepts, events, people, et cetera. Removing a monument no more negates history, than throwing away a birthday card negates the occasion it celebrates.
It’s easy to misunderstand the finer points of my position as you don’t know me, but that’s cool. I’ve made the same mistake myself. I don’t lay blanket labels on people as I don’t like them applied to me. That’s why I listed “racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, xenophobic … fears.” Those are beliefs, attitudes. I do not label those who disagree with as such.
I am not under compulsion to provide an objectively balanced argument to make my case, because doing so doesn’t present an argument that favors my position. I write intentionally to broaden people’s opinions to other options. So yes, my essays do have a slant, an intentional slant to convey the ideas “I” want. But if you or anyone else reads my essays with the expectation of an essay constructed with Vulcan-esque logic, chocked full of historical facts and numbers, they’ll be sorely disappointed. As I see you are. And that’s okay, because as you can see, that’s simply not what I do. You’ll have to find another Medium writer for that.
As a historian, you’ve studied history to a much greater degree than I have. I applaud you for that. That’s not my thing. And brace yourself … I agree with you on a couple of specific points (set in bold). History should not be swept under the rug. History should make people feel uncomfortable, if it’s going to serve as a clarion call to prevent a people from repeating the same mistake. Historical monuments certainly do mean different things to different people, but what’s the benefit in a monument that celebrates a man who fought to preserve a system whereby people could be own and abused by other people? As a descendent of one of the people who was owned and abused, there is no reason to memorialize such a man. There is no reason to present an objectively balanced argument to make your case. Again, that’s not my mission or position.
I also agree that most of the people involved in the protests the statue was little more than a focal point for their trendy virtue-signalling; a good excuse for a part of petulant faux outrage and a platform for them to display their own pious moral superiority … if you’re referring to those who objected to the statue’s removal.
Again, if we lived in a world in which the majority of people regarded the monuments in a historic context and not rose-colored glasses, the smoke of tiki torches, or the pain of systemic racism — I’d be all for leaving them up. That’s not the world we live in. These statues are cause celebre
I can appreciate your Russian experience and your position that you’d prefer that the statue of Lenin remain. While Lenin and Lee caused the deaths of many (granted not exactly the same circumstances, but you get my drift here), the Russian culture and the American culture are different.
It bears repeating that those who are full of shit are not those to hold any garden variety differing opinion, but those who are not open to discussing the matter.
You offered alternatives to tearing down the statues. I’ve written a sizable body of work that addresses racism based on the premise that in order to quell racism people must first communicate openly and honestly with one another while practicing mutual respect and care. The idea of a black union soldier is a great idea, you should work on that. [chuckle] Just kidding. Share that idea with others, but that’s not my calling. We both know that I am not “just another member of the mob of unthinking vandals telling everybody that doesn’t agree with them that they are ‘full of shit’ and they are ‘white supremacists.’” That’s painting with a very broad brush.
I’m not touching identity politics. That’s not where I was going at all. I think that should be clear after reading this piece.
As for the Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Washington comparison, that’s not my argument. That’s someone else’s. I presented it for the ridiculous statement that it was. (Trust me, I’m no slavery-apologist, nor am I a homophobe.)
So anyway, Svetlana, thanks for your time, but I’ve got a hurricane barreling in my direction, so I need to get going. You are free to prefer that the monuments remain, but I as one of the descendants of the people whose lives were impacted negatively by that system supported by the Confederacy I prefer that the monuments be removed. It’s not about being an “over-sensitive snowflake.” I don’t know if you know many black Americans, but very few of can be labeled as such. You’ve lived the Russian experience and suffered its injustices, and as such your opinions are based on your direct experience as someone who has lived in and experienced that culture on an intimate level; but to view the American experience through that lens isn’t the same as someone who has lived through the experiences of a black American. And vice versa. To think that your experience doesn’t color your opinion is denying it’s impact upon you.
Thanks for your time.