Toppling statues, renaming places solves nothing

Last week we saw the anti-Confederacy movement spring to life again as its promoters turned violent in the destruction and desecration of Confederate statues of generals in several states. Even Christopher Columbus got caught up in the mix when his statue was beheaded and removed by officials from a Boston park. Now even poor Chris is seen as a bad guy by demonstrators and rioters.
Who gave these people authority to destroy a significant part of our nation’s history? Who gave them the right to destroy and deface historical figures that belong to all of us? These violent and destructive actions were the offshoot of the burning, rioting and looting that took place in more than 40 American cities the weeks before. These actions were the result of the terrible death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis May 25.
The destruction of a significant part of business districts in these cities was instigated by a number of outside groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. The destruction of anything connected to slavery continued last week with the desecration and removal of statues of Confederate historical figures. We wonder when the attempts at erasing figures and names connected to the South and slavery will ever end. Not everything historical is positive.
Adding fuel to the fire last week, NASCAR announced  it would ban the display of the Confederate flag at races, prompting at least one racer to say he would not return after the 2020 season is over. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from events two days after Bubba Wallace, the only full-time African American driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series, went on CNN and called for its removal. One complaint and the Confederate flag is gone.
So one high-profile black man spoke out against the Confederate flag and NASCAR folds and said it would be removed. “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags,” Wallace said. NASCAR has its roots in Southern states and the flag has been flown there ever since the sport started.
We sometimes forget that the Civil War was fought with Americans on both sides who had differing philosophies on states rights vs. a centralized federal government. It wasn’t just about slavery. The flag is part of Southern heritage, and not, until recently, seen as a symbol of slavery or black repression. Keep in mind that some Southerners still refer to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.”
Last week also saw a move by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to offer an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill to remove Confederate names on 11 military bases like the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas,  Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia. All three  legendary forts were named after Confederate generals, Hood in 1942 and Bragg and Benning in 1918. These installations have a lot of history for a lot of soldiers who trained there.
Warren’s amendment would not only seek to change the names of these historic forts, but would also remove names of Confederate leaders from anything military, be it an installation, facility, aircraft, ship, plane or type of equipment, within three years. 
It will be interesting to see how many Republican senators side with Democrats on this issue and break from President Trump who is adamantly opposed to wiping out the names of these historic places. Both parties are seeking to court black voters in this all-important election year. We often wonder how Democrats can count on overwhelming support of black voters whenever national elections pop up every two or four years.
After all, it was the Republican-led Union that fought to free the slaves during the Civil War from 1861-65. It was Republicans who led the efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 which abolished slavery. Republicans led the charge to pass the 14th Amendment in 1866 which defined citizenship for all. It was Republicans who pushed the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1869 which granted African American men the right to vote. This is history that cannot be erased.

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