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Gray Fox
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Civil War statues

Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:50 pm

I thought it might be proper to discuss the removal/destruction of Civil War monuments. The argument seems to be that the monuments honor Confederate soldiers who were traitors and racist slave owners. What are the facts?

Obviously, during the war, the men who fought against the Union were traitors to the original U.S. One Confederate argument was that the war was a continuation of the Revolution of 1776. During that war, Americans who fought were traitors to the crown of England. So the Confederates were traitors from 1861 to 1865. Upon surrender, the men were parolled and might still be considered traitors. However, in 1868 President Andrew Johnson issued Proclamation #179 and "unconditionally pardoned" all the Confederates, "restoring all rights, privileges and immunities".

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=72360

The Proclamation is a singular document. It is not a normal Presidential pardon issued to one criminal. The document describes the power to pardon given to the President and Johnson explains that he is using that power to pardon them all. Legal scholars describe the intent of the document as a general amnesty or universal pardon. The Confederates were "returned to innocense". As a note, the Confederacy itself was of course not pardoned in any way. Further evidence that the men could no longer be considered traitors is found in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv

From Logic 101:

If traitors cannot serve as Congressmen
and pardoned Confederates served as Congressmen,
Then pardoned Confederates cannot be traitors.

So the men are not traitors. If someone had defamed them for having been traitors while they were still alive, then they could have been sued. Why can people call them traitors today? The sad fact is that you can call any dead person whatever you want and the dead cannot defend themselves. Not even their heirs or legal guardians can. None who have tried to sue have ever won a lawsuit against the defamers. Of course, anyone speaking ill of the dead would be performing a cowardly act that would forever damage their own integrity.

Approximately 80% of the Confederate soldiers did not own slaves. However, some of the statues are of known slave holders. Some Union soldiers owned slaves too. Many of the Founding Fathers also owned slaves. The fact is that African lords sold their criminals, prisoners of war and undesirables to Arab slavers who sold them to Europeans who brought them to the Americas. The world's economy ran off the slave trade for centuries. All of these people were involved in a despicable enslavement of human beings. Did this make them racist, too?

Everything we know today, we learned from our ancestors. We stand on their shoulders. Smart, learned people once thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Fallacies with this lead to the fact we now know that the opposite is actually true. Centuries ago, well-meaning people thought that one race was superior to another. Fallacies with this lead to the fact we now know. Our Mitochondrial DNA proves that all humans alive today descended from one small group of a few thousand people in Africa. There is only one human race and we are all descended from Africans. Robert E. Lee couldn't know that. No one in the 19th century could. People who came before me weren't idiots or racists or guilty of any other sin except that they lived in an age of comparative ignorance. Either this is universally true, or we are all doomed to be the future's evil doers. However, if someone still foolishly believes the Earth to be the center of the universe, then they should be severely admonished. This goes double for racists.

Finally, a so-called artist once put a Crucifix in a jar and filled it with his own urine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ

"Supporters argued that the controversy over Piss Christ is an issue of artistic freedom and freedom of speech." Obviously, this argument would apply to other works of art, like statues.

Thus, Confederate soldiers are not idiots or fools...or traitors or racists. Art has a freedom of speech aspect that allows it to be displayed even if someone objects to it. A statue is not the real problem. Racism is. On Grant's tomb is written, "Let us have peace".
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Captain_Orso
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Re: Civil War statues

Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:54 pm

*sigh* the issue is, ought government entities allow and pay for the upkeep of monuments on public grounds representing persons or groups of people who fought to maintain slavery, especially under the consideration that African-American's taxes go to pay to maintain those monuments and their places of display, and that racial discrimination was maintained by law in many of the places where these monuments were erected. That aside from the fact that many of these monuments were erected specifically to demonstrate the power and influence of white-supremacist movements over African-Americans.

Nobody is arguing against you as a private person, if you wish to pay for and display such monuments on your own private property. But no government entity ought to do so, outside historical museums within an historical context.

As you yourself stated, "So the Confederates were traitors from 1861 to 1865", and the monuments represent these people specifically in their status of rebellion during that period of time. Ergo they are monuments to traitors, by your own logic.

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Re: Civil War statues

Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:47 pm

The issue is that my taxes support liberal artwork like the Piss Christ artpiece and I don't complain. Free speech works both ways. Everything is subject to someone's objection. I swore to defend the Constitution and that document still works for people to whom I strongly object. We need to oppose today's racists, not yesterday's statues.

You have missed the logic of my whole statement. The Confederates were unconditionally pardoned and can no longer be referred to as traitors. That's just a fact.
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Re: Civil War statues

Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:50 pm

I've started playing as the Confederates in my games as a protest against this protest.

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Re: Civil War statues

Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:17 pm

I agree with you 100%, Gray Fox ... and I'm a New York Yankee [though I live in NC now]. The thing is, it is but a small part of the overall continued effort by many "progressives" in this country to bury the history of our nation, which they consider tarnished to say the least.

Here are some of my thoughts - pretty randomly - from stuff I wrote & posted a couple of years ago after the Charleston, SC Confederate flag removal. Read them, if you have the time. https://richfed.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/on-the-confederate-battle-flag-random-thoughts/

It breaks my heart to see the history of America being destroyed right before my eyes. It will not stop. Already movements to remove Stone Mountain, Mount Rushmore, streets named "Lynch," smearing Washington, Jefferson, et al ... much more ... are underway. Yet, a statue of Che Guevera stands in NYC.

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:48 am

I have seen too much divide in the nation in my short life to warrant the maintaining statues of the Civil War Period. In my opinion if removing the Lincoln Memorial would bring about a greater understanding and peace among people I would be all for it as well.

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:35 am

I suppose I'm closer to this than most of you. Here in Memphis we have 2 statues that really do need
relocating. No one is talking about destroying them, just moving them. Let me address them in turn.

Nathan B Forrest - he and his wife are buried under the statue erected near downtown. The park has
been renamed and the city wants to move the statue and the graves to Elmwood Cemetery - a very
historic cemetery and even considered a tourist attraction here. Forrest was originally buried in that
cemetery, so he was dug up and moved about 100 years ago. The reasons for that are known as there
is a wealth of documentation on the creation of the statue and creation of the park. It doesn't appear
as if racism actually played much of a role, though that has to be kept in consideration for the time.
http://historic-memphis.com/memphis-historic/forrest-sculpture/forrest-sculpture.html
What is not as well known is that after the war Forrest hoped for better relations with blacks in
Memphis and even spoke at a gathering called the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association,
an early civil rights organization: http://tennessee-scv.org/ForrestHistSociety/forrest_speech.html
Forrest got hate mail from fellow Confederate veterans for doing that.

It's appropriate to move this, as statues commemorating a war fought to keep people enslaved in a
city that is more than 65% black isn't something needed nor wanted by most who live here. Elmwood,
where he was first buried, is the best place for he and his wife, as well as the statue, to rest.

The next is a bit more obvious. Jefferson Davis - this statue was erected in 1964 downtown in what
was then called Confederate Park (I used to think there was some sort of fort there, but there wasn't).
Guess what else happened in 1964 - the Civil Rights Act. Here's a brief article on that statue:
https://www.memphisflyer.com/CityBeatBlog/archives/2013/02/08/a-short-history-of-the-jefferson-davis-statue-in-confederate-park
Davis lived in Memphis for 3 years. The statue doesn't even mention his other service to the US, just
being POTUS for the CSA. It was an obvious reminder to the huge black population who were suddenly
gaining more rights than before of who is actually in charge of the city.

I'll be happy to see them gone. The war is long over. Moving the statues will NOT erase history as some
are hysterically claiming. It's time to move on. The biggest hurdle is that our state decided to pass a law
against cities changing historical monuments (aka - Protect the Confederacy Act). The governor has wisely
signed a waver for this and sits on the council that will soon make a decision on allowing our city to have the
power to do what is needed. I sure hope so.

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:49 am

In England some people are calling for the removal of Nelson's column.

I think that is an insult to Nelson Mandela who could have changed the Nelson bit of his name if it actually offended him.

The world is getting dafter.

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:47 pm

I'm for honesty. Democrats created a nation dedicated in part to keeping slaves the Democrats did not want to free. Democrats then built statues of Democrats in protest to the Emancipation, to celebrate Jim Crow laws and to oppose the Civil Rights movement. Now Democrats want to erase this embarassing part of the history of the Democratic party. However, no Democrat is going to be that honest.

One of the cornerstone's of Democracy is serious and honest open debate. What is the issue and what are your arguments? So far the argument is that these statues celebrate men who were treasonous scum for four years...before they were unconditionally pardoned for 149 years. Also, only a select few may use art as a form of free speech and no one else. So all of the statues must be hidden in a warehouse. I suppose paintings and books would have to follow. In addition, no building may now be named after a Confederate. The Asian-American sportscaster Robert Lee may not work any game in the south. Also the law firm of Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and Stewart must close its doors. (One or more of these statements may be totally ridiculous.)

I swore to uphold the Constitution with my life. That document defends the rights of some people with whom I vehemently disagree and may even dislike. However, I would rather have that than live in an autocracy ruled by half truths. If I am allowed to see a statue of a Confederate soldier, it would remind me that when Republicans stand united, we can defeat any Democrat, even Robert E. Lee.
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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:19 pm

If Western Civilization keeps going down this road, we'll see book burnings again.

Looks like many are joining Ingsoc.

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:21 pm

Gray Fox wrote:The issue is that my taxes support liberal artwork like the Piss Christ artpiece and I don't complain. Free speech works both ways. Everything is subject to someone's objection. I swore to defend the Constitution and that document still works for people to whom I strongly object. We need to oppose today's racists, not yesterday's statues.


So you are saying, since you did not complain, nobody else should complain. That is an irrational argument.

The meaning of the Piss Christ is questionable. Many of the religious, probably most, feel it is blasphemous. However, not all. This is an excerpt from the Piss Christ Wiki article: "Sister Wendy Beckett, an art critic and Catholic nun, stated in a television interview with Bill Moyers that she regarded the work as not blasphemous but a statement on 'this is what we are doing to Christ'".

Your statement that "my taxes support liberal artwork like the Piss Christ" is only tangentially true, in that (excerpt from the Wiki article) "The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition,[1] which was sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects". That is different than your taxes paying specifically for an object, which could be equated as being purposely offensive to religious sections of America.

Your argument is similar to those who say that evolution should not be taught in schools, because they feel it is against their religious beliefs.

Gray Fox wrote:You have missed the logic of my whole statement. The Confederates were unconditionally pardoned and can no longer be referred to as traitors. That's just a fact.


I understood what your argument is, that the officers and soldiers were pardoned, and were therefore legally not traitors anymore.

The monuments being removed are however not celebrating those persons after they were rehabilitated, but their status during the rebellion, and therefore in fact in celebrating their acts of rebellion, which was specifically to support the perpetuation of slavery.

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:43 pm

richfed wrote:I agree with you 100%, Gray Fox ... and I'm a New York Yankee [though I live in NC now]. The thing is, it is but a small part of the overall continued effort by many "progressives" in this country to bury the history of our nation, which they consider tarnished to say the least.

Here are some of my thoughts - pretty randomly - from stuff I wrote & posted a couple of years ago after the Charleston, SC Confederate flag removal. Read them, if you have the time. https://richfed.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/on-the-confederate-battle-flag-random-thoughts/

It breaks my heart to see the history of America being destroyed right before my eyes. It will not stop. Already movements to remove Stone Mountain, Mount Rushmore, streets named "Lynch," smearing Washington, Jefferson, et al ... much more ... are underway. Yet, a statue of Che Guevera stands in NYC.


Richfed, in your blog you state, "States rights were at issue, and on that point, I am very sympathetic with the Confederacy". The states rights to do what I would ask? Alexander Stevens in his Cornerstone Speech stated that the object of the Confederate rebellion was to perpetuate slavery

    The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away... Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the "storm came and the wind blew, it fell."

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.

Are these the "rights" of which you speak?

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Re: Civil War statues

Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:51 pm

Gray Fox wrote:I'm for honesty. Democrats created a nation dedicated in part to keeping slaves the Democrats did not want to free. Democrats then built statues of Democrats in protest to the Emancipation, to celebrate Jim Crow laws and to oppose the Civil Rights movement. Now Democrats want to erase this embarassing part of the history of the Democratic party. However, no Democrat is going to be that honest.

8<


That you are equating the Democratic Party of the mid-nineteenth century with the present day Democratic Party demonstrates your lack of historic perspective and disinterest in historic facts. In that there is no honesty.

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Re: Civil War statues

Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:01 am

Captain_Orso wrote:That you are equating the Democratic Party of the mid-nineteenth century with the present day Democratic Party demonstrates your lack of historic perspective and disinterest in historic facts. In that there is no honesty.


Indeed

Image

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Re: Civil War statues

Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:28 am

Gray Fox – I am glad you opened this line of discussion and I appreciate the contributions of the other discussants. The issue of the importance of maintaining, removing or placing monuments in a more appropriate location is one I have been mulling and for which I have no actual conclusion.
I like this forum so much, even when it strays a bit into overly pc cant, because it mostly is discussion by informed individuals.
I came to my reading of the American Civil War when I was a very young child and the Civil War centenary was being celebrated. It was nice to learn about the American Civil War before it became politicized, as I do now have a more complex understanding.
While I am imbued with Northern ancestry and am deeply devoted to the Union cause, I have cousins who are Southern in orientation. They attended white high school academies with names like Robert E Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest. They support preservation of Confederate statues for reasons I do not.
I do understand how those with even more extreme abhorrence of what monuments represent than do I can view public support for maintaining these monuments is an affront. I also understand most of these monuments were erected at a consonant time with the introduction of Jim Crow, but also at a time when many CSA veterans were dying.
That is my preamble – For better or for worse the United States has had a troubling history with regard to racial issues. While I completely agree with WEB Dubois that I cannot claim to be innocent because my grandpappy died at Missionary Ridge fighting for the Union, (in my instance it was other battlefields, but Dubois image is apt) heritage must embrace, not hide, the warts of the past.
Can these monuments be contextualized and preserved? Of course they can, if we do not slide into anther race for being more morally pure than everyone else. Perhaps they need to be moved, not sure about that in my own mind.
But this is an important discussion even if we are not a National Forum.

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Re: Civil War statues

Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:34 pm

Captain Orso, one argument to remove the statues was that the men were actually traitors. I suppose that you are tacitly agreeing that this argument was never valid. Are you now saying that statues may not depict men in rebellion? The whole point of the Piss Christ statements were to describe how art, even art we both hate, has a free speech aspect. Statues in protest or defiance or stubborn resistance aren't illegal. They certainly may be immoral and disgusting, but that is not a reason to have them removed. That is why I don't say anything that would simply be a lie about art I don't like. The Government spends my taxes every day on projects I don't necessarily support. The Constitution allows the Government to do that by majority rule. Free speech comes with limitations. You can't yell "Fire" in a crowded room if there is none. However, "I don't like what you are saying or depicting" isn't one of the limitations. Majority rule doesn't crush free speech. Also, maybe the statues are depictions of the men on the moment after they surrendered.

I'm not equating the Democratic Party at all. I'm reporting what is quite obviously being done by very liberal Democrats. When Ben Afleck found out that his ancestors owned slaves, he no longer wanted his episode of "Who do you think you are?" to be aired on TV. He isn't the only Dem that wants history to go away. I realize that when the present stock of posters and stationary run out, the Dems might simply become the Progressive Party. Until then, I and some Dems see a glaring PR problem. I honestly described the obvious.

DrPostman, Republicans emancipated the slaves. Republicans believe in law and order. Republicans believe in free enterprise. Those racist KKK, school burning, enforcers of economic enslavement through share-cropping are not any more Republicans that Arlan Spectre was. Unfortunately, I can't stop a POS from voting Republican any more than someone might stop a Marxist, anarchist, thug from pretending to be a champion of Antifa.

Durk, statues protected more or less by free speech exist depicting men who by no less than Presidential Proclamation have not been traitors for 149 years. I don't know if the Mona Lisa is really smiling and no one can tell what the artist was thinking when any of the statues were made. If all the statues, paintings, books and Confederate graves were destroyed, we would still have to deal with living, breathing racism today. Half truths are being spread to destroy one part of our history perhaps as a prelude to its utter destruction. Let's accept that our past is flawed and fight real present evils to make a better future. That is the actual historic symbol of the Civil War.
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Re: Civil War statues

Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:13 pm

Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.... :bonk:

IMHO, our schools' political correctness with regard to history is dooming future generations.... :pleure:

At the least, spread the word: "Evaluate historical events and people in the context of their time, not ours"

Kudos to all in this thread for keeping discussion of a very inflammatory topic civil..... :gardavou:

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Re: Civil War statues

Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:05 pm

Gray Fox,

I agree. One of the cornerstone concepts of the US Constitution is --Majority Rule, but Minority Rights--. As you have stated, these Rights are limited by actions which would cause harm.

Free Speech is also a cornerstone; perhaps the most important cornerstone, as without it, everything else is in danger of turning to ash to be blown away in the breeze.

Monuments are a special kind of artwork. As such, they are expressions of ideas and feelings, and thus are protected under that most important cornerstone of our constitution.

Monuments such as those of which we are discussing, are however not purveyors of history. They are expressions of the artist's --and in those circumstances, the initiator's-- ideas and feeling, they are reminders, akin to the piece of yarn tied around a finger. Thus, in their absolute form form, that are protected by that most hallowed cornerstone of our constitution.

The contention is however not, whether these monument, on their own, are protected. It is, whether a government entity has the right, to place and maintain these monuments on public grounds. There is no contention, as to whether private persons ought to be allowed to create or contract to create such monuments, nor to display them on private property.

Perhaps you know of monuments to Southern Pride or Culture which do not depict persons in rebellion. I am far from an expert on this. However, I believe it is obviously telling that these monuments in contention are all representing Southern men in the act of struggling to perpetuate slavery. Equally telling is that the majority of them were erected during two periods in our history; jim crow and the advancement of the civil rights movement.

I contend, and my previous paragraph documents, their purpose is specifically to demonstrate a racial supremacist ideology and as a reminder to the African-American population, especially in the places of their display, of the power disparity between the African-American community and their white fellow citizens.

My question to you, is why are you denying the historically documented facts, that the rebellion was not caused by an abstract disagreement on "states rights", but specifically because of the fear of the Southern politicians and gentry that the federal government might, through congressional acts, rescind the legal right to own and hold human beings in that peculiar institution otherwise known as slavery?

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Re: Civil War statues

Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:45 pm

Strom Thurmond, Jessie Helms, and several others are prime examples of how conservatives and
liberals switched parties during the 1950s and 1960s. I can show you a poster from 1956 that
promotes joining labor unions created by the Republican party. That same poster wouldn't fly
today.

When it comes to the statues all anyone has to do is look at when they were erected. Most were
put up to remind minorities that in spite of losing the war white people in the South were still
in charge.

I believe that cities have every right to move these monuments. History will not be erased nor
forgotten by doing that. Especially in cities like Memphis where the majority of it's citizens are
black. None of them like having reminders of white supremacy in public places.

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Re: Civil War statues

Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:36 am

Captain Orso, I posted that Dems made a country in part dedicated to keeping slaves, so I don't see how you can post that I'm in any way ignoring the awful side of the Confederacy. The CSA were not pardoned. Ever. I'm not a "neo-Confederate". But, I'm not an autocrat either. If we're both now agreeing that art is protected by free speech, then why would Federal or Municipal land be exempt from displaying art I don't like?

DrPostman, I won't try to speak for all African-Americans, but a recent poll showed the largest block of respondents (44%) didn't care about the statues. Maybe they want someone to actually help them with racism right now? It's easy to remove a lump of bronze and pretend you're doing something really important. The right thing is to stand up for everyone's freedom (even people with whom we disagree) every single day. I did it for 21 years.

Statues dedicated to dead men and built by artists who are also dead have one meaning that is still understood. However, we mustn't forget the true meaning of any form of free speech on display. We are better than the people who deny others free speech because we don't.
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Re: Civil War statues

Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:09 am

I can only speak for what I see happening in Memphis. The meaning of the 1964 erection of the
statue of Jeff Davis, with no mention of his other services to the US, was quite clear. It seems that
most people want that one gone in particular. It serves no other purpose since the man lived
here about 3 years and did nothing here during that time. With the 50th anniversary of the
assassination of Dr Martin Luther King fast approaching next year it's an issue that isn't going
to go away.

http://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/people-call-for-the-removal-of-the-jefferson-davis-statue-on-north-front-street/789894991

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Re: Civil War statues

Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:23 pm

It's unfortunate that the demonstrators are described as either pro or anti Confederates and no mention of free speech rights. As I tried to describe here, we as a nation used to care about treating both sides of an argument with honesty. The city might place a plaque next to the statue describing the dark side of the CSA that Davis led. Truth is the antithesis of misplaced pride. I doubt if MLK Jr. would abide with the violent methods of Antifa. Hopefully his memory can be celebrated without rioting.
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Re: Civil War statues

Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:47 am

I'm of many minds when it comes to the issue. I'm currently living in Memphis and support the movement to remove the statues here. However, my preferred outcome is for a drastic re-imagining of them and investment in extending the city's remembrance of Southern history - particularly black Southern history (my understanding is that while the city has been majority black for many years, most of the cities monuments to blacks are on private land, and those one public land are in smaller, lesser used parks).

My private position is that there are many racist motivations for keeping statues and flags in place, and that any argument for keeping the statues up has to confront these directly and consistently. Any argument that mentions, for instance, some Confederates positive role in the life of one or many blacks has to immediately note that such a role does not make up for or somehow pay off the moral debt of slavery and their role in it and its perpetuation. And particular note should be made when an individual played a particularly heinous role in slavery, such as is the case for a slave trader or plantation owner. I'm partially disgusted when I see modern attempts to rehabilitate slavery or to excuse people who owned slaves for a non-trivial period and later did not own slaves. Mostly, however, I find such attempts to be silly and I am able to ignore them. I have no problem with a position that someone can make huge mistakes and still be honored for their better deeds, I just think the mistakes should be acknowledged. I do not know what solutions are possible if these debates were approached with intellectual honesty and moral humility, and I wish that solutions could be found which do place value on the public works of our fathers even though those works celebrate deeds we now disavow.

One other point, the raising of the Lee statue in Confederate Park in Memphis was planned before the 1961 Civil War Centennial and its placement in the period from 1961-1965 was meant in part to celebrate that centennial. I do not dispute that there were many racist motivations for its placement, and do not think that the date was a mere coincidence, but it is more complex than just that the statue was placed in response to the Civil Rights Act. In particular, organizations like the UDC (and the UCV for the Forrest statues) which spearheaded their placement had many members with many different views. Publicly, both organizations focus(ed) on remembrance, heritage, and history, and opposed overt racism. This easy-to-agree-with face, like that of many organizations, helps(ed) it receive the broad support. However, there are many aspects of there activity that are(were) darker in nature, such as their sometimes close association with hate groups and propensity to gloss over slavery.

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Gray Fox
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Re: Civil War statues

Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:14 pm

Is a statue, even one I hate, a symbol of free speech and protected by the First Amendment? We either all agree that's true and not a multiple choice question or suddenly the freedom slaves won is now less for all citizens. We don't have to construct a plaque explaining the truth of slavery next to every Confederate's statue, monument and graveyard. We defeated them. We pardoned them. We forgave them. Dead men are not the enemy any more. Spend those funds explaining the truth of living racism today.

Let's say that 50 years from now, people use 3-D printers and chemicals to make their food. That generation decides all their ancestors were cruel for having tortured plants and animals to get nourishment. Thus, only their belief system matters and everyone else should be erased as moral punishment. Every generation could burn the evil inheritance from the generation before and only honor themselves. This is an egomaniac's paradise of hubris.

What is the justification for judging our ancestors by our current values? I have a rough understanding of Relativity because I can read what Einstein discovered. Does that make me a judge of 19th century scientists? May I fairly determine that all physicists prior to Einstein were just stupid or incompetent? I'm hoping we can agree the answer is quite obviously "NO". People in the 19th century lived in ignorance relative to what we know today. Even the wise people who thought that races should just leave each other alone, didn't know as a fact that only one race exists. Two human beings on different sides of the globe are more alike genetically than two similar primates on different ends of Borneo. We are one species, one race. Generations prior to mine couldn't know that. I'm not excusing or forgetting the horrible things people did in ignorance, but I'm not going to judge them either. All the Confederates are dead and already faced a higher judgement than mine.
I'm the 51st shade of gray. Eat, pray, Charge!

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tripax
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Re: Civil War statues

Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:46 pm

@GF: I'm not sure I follow your argument in the first paragraph. If freedom of speech meant placing a statue in 1890, then it can also mean remove or contextualizing on in 2017, right? And, as Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I think it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone has the tools to understand the meaning of these statues, just as it is our responsibility to try to teach people about how complicated the past was and how there was always shades of gray.

I do agree with your second paragraph. I think that people too often have a positivist view of history and of themselves, that is people too often thing that today is the perfect culmination of history and that their current self will not change as their past self did. I also believe the flip side of this is true, there was no golden age in history nor any true greatest generation - man is, was, and always will be deeply flawed.

I also agree with your third paragraph, although I think it is important to talk to each other (and our children) about our values and those of our forefathers, how our values differ each other and from those of the past, how we agree and disagree with each other and with our forefathers, and even about how we and how our forefathers fail to live up to our own and their own values.

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Gray Fox
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Re: Civil War statues

Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:26 pm

As William Paley wrote in The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy

"...actions are to be estimated by their tendency. Whatever is expedient, is right. It is the utility of any moral rule alone, which constitutes the obligation of it.

But to all this there seems a plain objection, viz. that many actions are useful, which no man in his senses will allow to be right. There are occasions, in which the hand of the assassin would be very useful… The true answer is this; that these actions, after all, are not useful, and for that reason, and that alone, are not right.

To see this point perfectly, it must be observed that the bad consequences of actions are twofold, particular and general. The particular bad consequence of an action, is the mischief which that single action directly and immediately occasions. The general bad consequence is, the violation of some necessary or useful general rule…

You cannot permit one action and forbid another, without showing a difference between them. Consequently, the same sort of actions must be generally permitted or generally forbidden. Where, therefore, the general permission of them would be pernicious, it becomes necessary to lay down and support the rule which generally forbids them."

Should we post footnotes by every historical site? Where does politically correctionist history stop? Wouldn't future generations have the same right to correct our monuments? Let's teach our children how to reason and debate well and they'll figure out all the monuments themselves.

Freedom, it's just progressivism without the lies and BS.
:)
I'm the 51st shade of gray. Eat, pray, Charge!

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