This goes for everything in life – personal, business and social. We make a mistake when we focus attention on things and circumstances we don’t want. Recent events have demonstrated that statues and symbols of the slave powered agrarian economy of the pre Civil War South still have the power to generate anger and fear. After all, what are they giving tribute to? This is not about changing history it is about respecting how far we have come and not energizing remnants of a more primitive culture.
As consciousness evolves across the human species there has been an ever increasing demand for self determination and the freedom to each be whoever we want to be. Celebrating flawed elements of our past, less enlightened history only provides support for those still clinging to a social order that we are evolving past. I think it would be kinder to the decedents of leaders of the southern contingent of the Civil War to forgive and forget the behavior of their ancestors. The Southern leaders of the day were traitors in a war against the duly elected government of United States of America.
The period of the Civil War was the darkest time in American history and a more important battle for freedom and the principals this country was founded on than our revolution against Great Britain. This is why people like Robert E. Lee should not be celebrated with statues in the parks or streets of our country. Do we really want to portray that we are “proud” of these people who were in fact traitors who opposed civil liberty and the right of their fellow man? The Confederate Flag is an even more potent symbol of a backward, cruel economic system that bought and sold people as personal property. It is difficult to see how anyone proudly flying that flag can be a supporter of the country we live in now. Like the statues it remains a symbol of tyranny and an affront to responsible social behavior.
Robert E. Lee himself opposed the idea of erecting statues celebrating the Confederacy. Why? Because he recognized that they would not benefit the country and would hold it back.
“I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of nations who endeavor to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” – Robert E. Lee
Does this mean that statues of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson should be removed as well? All that one needs to consider is what are the statues commemorating? Is it the fight for an immoral social order or the effort to build a more perfect union and a more just society celebrating the freedom and rights of the individual? The intent of a statue or monument is that it is a tribute to what it stands for. Sadly many of those most opposed to removing statues of Robert E. Lee and others actually believe that the racist, corrupt society Lee fought to maintain was something desirable or should in some way be fondly remembered. I think it is time we kick these guys out of town and relegate them to a sad chapter of American history we would all be better off forgiving and forgetting.