On this Fourth of July weekend, we find ourselves in the incomprehensible position of somehow debating those words of our Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”
The debate plays out as Confederate flags are banned and Confederate monuments are toppled. Those who oppose such reality checks almost 250 years beyond the vows of equality in the Declaration frame it as some kind of politically correct debate.
Some argue that monuments and flags recount history and are a reminder of something we should somehow describe as an honorable fight, soldier or general, despite the issue at hand.
But racism is not a two-sided debate. The system of the Confederacy, which supported and financed enslaving people for some 90 plus years after those sacred words were written in our Declaration of Independence, cannot have supporters if patriotism matters.
A statue or monument by its definition celebrates and elevates the person or event. We didn’t build statues and monuments to suggest an objective review of the ugly facts of the enslaving of people who were supposed to be part of those who were “created equal.”
In fact, one could look at racism, the Confederacy and its acceptance for decades as a sin against our vow that our creator endowed all men with “inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Webster’s dictionary describes a monument as “a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great.”
So we can’t have it both ways. We can’t say we need the monument even though we acknowledge slavery and the ensuing decades of prejudice and discrimination and then say the monuments represent “history” objectively.
If you think a Confederate flag should be waved in honor of great people, think about this: The First Minnesota Civil War regiment took an 82 percent casualty loss in the battle of Gettysburg. As one Twitter scribe put it: “Just another reason you’re an unpatriotic jackass if you wear or display any Confederate symbol on Minnesota soil.”
We couldn’t say it better.
Taking down monuments and statues of soldiers or leaders of the confederacy doesn’t erase history. The dethroning of these statues finally makes a statement that we no longer hold these people up as great.
If you don’t think they should be taken down, you’re saying slavery was great. As President Donald Trump vows to keep the names of military forts in honor of Confederate generals, he’s saying they were great.
It’s time America acts with one strong voice. The Confederacy and slavery were horrific chapters of our history that no amount of nostalgia can refute.