The debate over removal or retention of symbols of US secessionist movement that resulted in the US Civil War acquired momentum last week courtesy of violence.
White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Ku-Klux-Klan last week descended on a city planning to remove the statue of a most prominent secessionist, General Robert E. Lee, Lee, from a public square.
In the confrontation between Lee’s statue defenders and counter demonstrators, a woman was killed.
It’s worth here to reflect on the statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the House of Commons in Britain.
Briefly, Cromwell, who died in 1658, was so loathed by monarchists that after they resumed power had his body dug up from his grave in Westminster Abbey, hang with chains and beheaded.
Cromwell has a few admirers, although he can hardly be cited for any contributions to what Britain stands for today.
However, there’s hardly any talk of the removal of his statue. It inspires nothing.
Unfortunately, to some people in the US—white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis—not so the statues of Lee and other prominent leaders.
These statutes are an inspiration to reinstall repugnant ideas and practices prevailing in the Southern States during a most ignominious history of the US
In short, Confederate leaders were treasonous. They sought to break the Union by arms.
Politically, socially and economically they sought to create a state based on ideas and practices—not just now but in other then states elsewhere—considered most repugnant.
Ownership of black slaves in the Southern States features prominently in the Civil War history, although there were other issues, the Union’s politics and economy.
However, although slavery was abolished at the end of the war, other so-called “legal means”—Jim Crow laws—were taken to perpetuate most of the practices that existed before the war. Some racial discriminatory laws enacted after the war would remain in force up to 1967, in the name of “the order of things.” Read white supremacy and, presumably, purity.
It’s understandable some people in the US find the statues of Southern States Civil War heroes—technically brilliant generals, albeit fighting a war to sustain morally and legally a repugnant cause—offensive. That’s because in reality, they shouldn’t hold a place of honour, for example, a public place, or outside a place of worship.
What should be the real issue though isn’t the existence of statues, but tolerance by leaders, including the likes of President Donald Trump, of racist et al groups perpetuating, and sometimes fighting others, to reinstall what the persons depicted, including the so-called Southern ways of life, stood for.
In reality, those yearning for the days of Lee & Co. are a pitiful but violent minority. What the majority needs do is stand up to them—it happened over the weekend—and concentrate on resolving the problem of race.
Brits don’t fight over Cromwell’s statue. Oh! He lived in an era we don’t care about, sort of thing.