The issue of confederate statues was central to the terrorism we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia. The neo-Nazis who showed up with weapons of war were protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in the city. They believe that these symbols are vital to their identity of white supremacists, and in response, yesterday, governments in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Kentucky and Baltimore either voted to remove confederate statues, or accelerate their disappearance. Later in the day, protesters in Durham took down a statue on their own.
Non-white supremacist defenders of these statues view them as a preservation of southern history. This has been the spin ever since they were put up, however, if they were solely designed to preserve history, how come nearly all were built over a half-century after the conclusion of the Civil War?
Confederate statues are inextricably linked to racism because the Confederacy inextricably linked themselves to racism. They told us why they seceded. Here's the second and third sentences from Georgia's secession letter:
For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.
And South Carolina:
The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.
This isn't up for debate. Those who wish to paint a rosy picture of our country's sordid history betray the words of their forbearers. The Confederacy tied their cause to slavery, and monuments to this failed insurgency were constructed during a period of legalized terror. If you still support these monuments, take the time to consider the point embedded in this tongue-in-cheek tweet.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.