Letter: The Culture War on Confederate Heritage
Connie Chastain Ward
Dear Historic City News editor:
The current demands to remove Confederate statues, names, flags, etc., are based on historical error at best and deliberate misconceptions at worst.
Claim — The Confederate heritage community glosses over the role slavery played in the civil war.
Response — The place of slavery in U.S. history is more than sufficiently covered in academia, the media and the popular culture. It needs no further elaboration. On the other hand, the Take ‘Em Downers ignore all the other circumstances of the war in order to demonize Southerners by presenting slavery as the sole factor. We simply remind people that there were other circumstances that must be acknowledged for an accurate view.
Claim — Confederate statues are symbols of racism and white supremacy.
Response — Most Confederate monuments are memorials that commemorate the ultimate sacrifice of soldiers defending home, family and community from a brutal military invasion. Take ‘Em Downers need to understand that they are not the only ones who define the monuments or assign their meaning. They need to understand that the part of history they wish to ignore or defame does not belong solely to them to do with as they please. The views, beliefs and feelings of the Confederate Heritage community, particularly the descendants of Confederate soldiers, are as valid, if not more valid, than those demanding removal of commemorations to our ancestors. Take ‘Em Downers also need to understand that what they are so monumentally obsessed with likely takes up a mere few square feet in towns and cities that encompass sometimes hundreds of square miles. They need to get their priorities properly adjusted and focus on things that will truly benefit the community.
Claim — Most Confederate statues were not erected right after the war, but many years later, to intimidate blacks when the when Jim Crow laws were being enacted.
Response — Monuments were not raised immediately post war because the entire South was economically devastated, continued to be economically victimized by predatory sham state governments and experienced regional poverty for generations after the war due to northern policies that prevented economic development. Right after the war, every penny available had to go to rebuilding homes, farms and entire towns. Fundraising campaigns by widows, wives, daughters and sisters of Confederate soldiers to commemorate their loved ones sometimes continued for decades before enough money was raised to pay for the monuments. The “Jim Crow” connection is fabricated nonsense based on deeply entrenched prejudices against Southerners.
I urge all who live in a community with targeted monuments like St Augustine, to pause and consider this letter. Be mindful that the views and feelings of the Take ‘Em Downers are not the only ones that matter.