I was born in 1956 and was raised in the two decades following. Racial unrest, demonstrators, violence, campus turmoil, and rage against the Vietnam war were all imprinted in my memory. All of that is part of history.
Slavery has existed in virtually every society at some time. When wars were fought and won, the victors made slaves of the vanquished. In the history of America, we bought slaves who lost tribal wars in Africa and were sold to the Portuguese and Spanish by fellow Africans.
They were available and we bought them. Slaves were abused, tortured, and used for every purpose. Enslavement is total evil. We all agree.
Some of our greatest American leaders, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned slaves, 327 and 600 respectively . All American colonies originally had slaves, and, though the North never reached the number of slaves in the South, there is 200 years of Northern slave history. According to his speeches, Abraham Lincoln did not believe that whites and blacks should have the same identical rights except in the pursuit to better their condition in life.
Now we are watching hate, violence, and intolerance dominate colleges, streets, and the news. Extreme right and left views are tearing apart the delicate fabric that we have woven in an attempt to accept each other. We allow the actions of a few to undermine the lives of the masses.
History is our teacher. Good, bad, or ugly, history teaches and judges us. Now there are segments of society who wish to erase anything that reminds us of the mistakes of our past. We know that there are those who deny that the holocaust occurred.
If the destruction of statues of civil war figures becomes the norm, there will be a lot of work to do in Chattanooga, Northwest Georgia, and surrounding regions.
What value is history? I hope our society can figure that out.
* * *
American history is our history! Learn from it, don't destroy it.
* * *
I'm not black. I don't really know or understand the parts of American history that are really offensive to the black community. I know slavery was and is wrong. It was not a proud time for the country.
What is mystifying to me is the seemingly sudden outrage. These symbols of our history have been standing for decades. I don't remember the news media attention or the calls to remove these symbols during the eight years when we had a black President. I don't remember President Obama having both houses of congress on his side for the first two years of his presidency calling for the removal of these monuments and statues that are now the focus of the left.
Did the realization that these symbols are offensive just occur? Were they not offensive a year ago?
Being a conservative it probably shouldn't bother me that these monuments of Democrats erected by Democrats are removed. I just don't think it's right to try to erase history. And, everyone knows that it will change absolutely nothing.
I could sympathize with people feeling that these symbols of the Confederacy are offensive if it didn't appear that the outrage was so manufactured.