On Saturday, August 12th, the nation and the world witnessed the quiet university town of Charlottesville Virginia erupt into chaos around a park with a statue of a Confederate general. Statues like this one are positioned all across the south to remind the nation that many were willing to die in order to continue to subjugate an entire race of humans. They are monuments to those whom led the rebellion and are considered heroes to some of their decedents and those who have co-opted the tenets of those who consider themselves superior to all races.
In the wake of the murder of a young vibrant caring woman and the intentional wounding of many more our president for almost three days refused to denounce the organizers of the alt-right protest as his supporters. All he had to do was name them, call out their agenda, and order his AG to immediately investigate the leaders of the many white supremacist groups. Instead he insinuated that it was all groups who were at fault. Said that extremists were to blame…well, he also calls those who rightfully demand clean air and water or equal justice under the law, or economic equity, or racial justice as extremists – so NO it wasn’t all!
During and soon after the horrible events of the evening before and the day of David Duke the supreme dragon mucky-muck of this generation’s KKK, reminded Trump that it was them, the alt-right that got him elected and he expected that the president would remember that! Inside the White House most of his advisors and staff were trying to convince him that he didn’t live up to expectations. Especially since the governor of Virginia, the mayor and the police chief of Charlottesville in no uncertain terms called out the intentional violence and forcefully demanded they leave the state and never come back.
That probably isn’t going to keep them away as they have said that more demonstrations and rallies are planned at that location and in cities across the nation in protest and in support of white supremacy.
Now I’m not in total agreement with removing these reminders. I don’t agree that we should erase history, hide the past, and in essence pretend it didn’t happen. Too much history has been lost to the victors and some of it should be remembered down through the generations as lessons of what we do not want to aspire to. And we need to highlight not just heroics but bad behavior and the places these monuments exist is a good place to start. Flip the narrative if you will. But instead communities have opted and rightly so, it’s their home, to remove / move these to a less prominent location. In all cases is up to the majority of citizens to decide. The real trouble, as we saw, comes when outsiders come in and try to influence decisions-decisions that they will NOT have to live with!
Precious history of the Indigenous Peoples all across this world has been eradicated by the conquerors, thought to be evil and contrary to their religion or beliefs. Again, the victors get to dictate what is and isn’t important to preserve. And let us not be revisionists either…not all Indigenous history is without examples of human mistakes, treachery, and atrocities. The overwhelming need to romanticize history by some has also hidden some awful truths that we all need to be reminded we as humans are capable of.
I think,, at least for now, that we all need to remember that most of these monuments were erected long after the war ended and were put there to remind people of color that they were still second-class citizens and at anytime they could lose all that they had gained to that point.
Nothing really has changed – in fact there is evidence that this new administration, with Jeff Sessions at the helm of the U.S Justice Dept. that we do stand to lose much of the equality and equity that has been gained to date. So watch this space as we move onward toward the end of the first year of Trump’s first term.
As of the middle of October human rights have taken a huge hit from Sessions canceling the programs that the Obama administration started to improve relationships in cities hardest hit by police violence against peoples of color, moved to eliminate environmental justice within the EPA, and Trump himself has double and tripled down on his assertion that ‘there were good people’ among the white supremacists in Charlottesville that day! Never mind the chants of “Jews will not replace us” in unison as they marched with tiki torches — or the acts of extreme violence that took the life of a peaceful protester the next day….As of Oct 12th, Sessions put out a ruling that employers under the guise of religious freedom can fire LGBTQ people and unwed mothers if they so choose.
There seems to be no way to predict how far this administration is going to go in removing rights that many have fought and died for…. I’ll end this here for now as I sit on this beautiful fall day wondering if there is any way we can leave our children and the next seven generations anything of value, equity, true prosperity and above all peace.