I am aware of the Yasukuni Shrine and the museum that is part of it. I have been there. If there is better evidence of Revisionism in the world, I am not aware of it and you make your point very well. It does make me chuckle with irony that the museum accuses the US of starting the Pacific War because of racism against the Japanese.
I also agree with your comment about proceeding with caution when revisiting the past. That caution need to be intensified when dealing with a man like Forrest, whose character is questionable to say the least. He certainly was a great military leader. He was also a man capable of great violence, with a hair-trigger temper, and in the main a pretty unpleasant fellow.
One of my pastimes is reading biographies and I have read perhaps a hundred on Civil War leaders. I remember finishing one of the several biographies of Forrest and thinking that I just did not like him very much. Generally, biographers find positive aspects of their subject's behavior and emphasize those qualities. Hard to find with Forrest. As far as I can see, that judgement was shared by his contemporaries, too. He was a man to be respected and feared, but he had few friends.
So why erect a statue to him?
Your explanation could be right, and I am not discounting the possibility that the myth of the Lost Cause played a role here, with the attending implications on the social order.
But their another possibility to consider.
There is nothing quite so strong as the bond that connects fighting men with a beloved general. Someone once said that the love that soldiers feel for a successful leader surpasses the love they have for their women. Maybe so.
When the statue was erected, the war had been over for almost forty years and Forrest dead for almost thirty. The reality of war and the reality of Forrest I think, faded into something else. I am an old soldier myself, and my memories of my war have been altered by time so that the fear and pain have been replaced by other things, bittersweet memories of when I was young and strong. My war in reality was one of the worst this country ever fought and yet I am vastly proud of my service in it. If that does not make sense to you, I can only reply that war does not make much sense either. Those feelings form the basis for the formation of veteran's organizations which have flourished in our history and continue to do so today.
My guess is that many of Forrest's troopers were still alive in the early 1900's and many of those lived in and around Memphis. I wonder if their similar war memories, altered by time, are not part of the reason a statue of Forrest was erected and why it was a military statue.
There is also the fact that Forrest was a prominent Memphis citizen at the time of his death, certainly the highest ranking ex-general to reside in Memphis, and a businessman of some note as well.
Just an alternate explanation, I readily admit the full truth may not be possible to ever know.
$475k (over 8 years) is only about 4% of the stated total project cost of $12.4 million. Is the margin of profit so slim that this project would be nonviable without this taxpayer subsidy?
Of course, in most such projects, there is seldom just one request for subsidies - and once the ball is rolling, they seem to get harder and harder to turn down. Or should I say easier and easier to grant?
While a drop in the bucket compared to the $18 million in tax abatement and cash subsidies for the Belz development at McLean and Union (with its mystery gourmet grocery next door to the long-awaited new $24 million Kroger), wouldn't it be refreshing for the board to say we like development but at some point we have to stop helping the rich get richer with taxpayers money?
@AP - Not sure at all. That's the whole point, I think. One should proceed in this direction with a large degree of caution. Looking at the past is always colored by what we now know.
I used to live in Japan. I think you need to look up the Yasukuni Shrine.
I appreciate your explanation of the reasons the statue was erected.
Are you sure you aren't engaging in a bit of Revisionism yourself?
I completely disagree with you.
There are plenty of comparisons.
Don't let the fact that victors write the histories, determine the heroes and make villains of the losers blind you.
And do try to resist the urge to go back 150 years and judge those living at that time using our modern day sensibilities.
I really don't know what horrors you think Forrest represents, but I suspect that those horrors, and the pain you say the statue causes you, are mostly in your own mind.
I don't think the vast majority of the citizens of Memphis pay any attention to the statue one way or the other. I also think most citizens couldn't tell you who Forrest was, nor do they care.
@datGuy - Revisionism is revisionism, no matter the subject.
Technically, digging Forrest up from Elmwood and building him a monument in that park, was a revisionist attempt to control the mythos of 'The South' after Reconstruction. It was undertaken by poor rural whites, who repopulated Memphis after the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878, which decimated a large part of the urban population that had somehow managed to survive both the War itself and the predations of the later infestation of Union carpetbaggers.
It was important to those who erected the statue, to set their mythology in stone, or in stone and bronze as is the case here, so that they could rebuild what they saw as the proper natural order of society. That order was fundamentally racist. And the statue was supposed to be an exclamation point on top of that resurrected order.
I have pointed out before that I don't tend to argue over the resting place of 100 year old corpses, and I certainly am not going to change my view that Forrest needs to be in Elmwood, and the beautiful Parisian cast bronze needs to be at Shiloh.
But the problem with trying to erase the ugly parts of history, is that it leaves those who come after the erasure, unaware of the heinous deeds of those who came before them. This involuntary ignorance of the dread past, in my view, makes it more likely that they might make those same mistakes again, not knowing it, and living with that history in their present lives. That's why the concentration camps in Europe still need to stay right were they are, for all to learn from.
So our current revisionist tendency to pull out all that ugly history by the roots, and get it on out of here, is totally understandable to me. I know why folks want to do it. I kind of agree with that reasoning to some extent, as I've said.
But we have to be careful just how far we let that urge run. Because George Santayana was right. Those who cannot remember the past, are doomed to repeat it.
@mike, costs? You worry about costs yet want to build and add to the park as some form of outdoor attraction. One Sundays donations from supportive church goers would pay for any moving costs. We could charge people for the right to smash all that remained. Sign me up for that. We can use that money to place a proper statue of the Selma marchers locked arm in arm. Time to stop honoring the most repugnant of ancestors of the few not decended of immigrants since that dark time
@pop, there is no comparison between our founding fathers who put a country together and a man that sought to tear it apart.
Failure to be placed in jail following the conflict is no endorsement and hardly worthy of perpetual placement in a place of honor.
There are no statues of German or Japanese veterans from WW II honored in parks. Likewise, most soldiers and leaders from the two nations were not placed in jail as well.
Forrest owns a special place in racial infamy because of his post war activities.
There is quite simply is no parallel for Forrest or the horrors he represents.
His statue here reflects poorly on all of us, particularly those defending the statues existence and the pain it causes
I like it. Perhaps rename the park 'Antebellum Memphis" or something like that.
Erect exhibits that describe what like was like for all Memphians before the war, including the slave trade.
Instead of moving the statue of General Forrest (and remains of the General and Mrs Forrest), why don't we create one or more historical markers depicting the slave trade in Memphis and the General's role as a slave trader.We can place them next to the statue. There are hundreds of historical markers in Memphis and Shelby County, but not one describes the slave trade or even mentions that Forrest was a slave trader. I understand why many want the statue to be moved. For generations we have depicted Forrest as a war hero, and neglected to discuss Forrest the slave trader. It is difficult to discuss slavery and the slave trade. But that is part of our history and we must discuss it.
By keeping the statue there and placing these new markers next it; we use both as a teaching tool, free for anyone to examine.
Last, no one has talked about what it would cost to move the statue and graves, and who would pay for that. It would be far less expensive to place, say, two historic markers next to the statue.
Mike Freeman, Shelby County Historical Commission 2012-
"Existing Midtown homes are going up in value $2,000 a month."
Listen to MemphisTiger. The housing prices ARE going up at a rate of 1-2k per month on average. I purchased a home in late 2013 for around 130K in crosstown/midtown. According to zillow right now it's worth 240K... will it sell for 240K, probably not, but even if I get 170K out of it..that's unheard of appreciation in Memphis within a 3 year period. That's like an appreciation of 1100 dollars EVERY MONTH. This is what they call gentrification. You better purchase the properties while they are cheap because that area is gonna be another Sam Cooper with even more expensive homes before long.
Lets call the opposition to Forrest's statue "Presenting". That is, taking the present time's more enlightened attitudes and using them to judge those from another, past era. Presenting might work better for you than Revisionism.
Forrest was definitely a buyer and seller of black slaves, but then so very many of our revered Founding Fathers were also. He was a broker, they were the slave masters, which seems to me a distinction without a great deal of difference. Forrest as a traitor is a much harder sell. He was never charged by the Union authorities after the war of being one, and in fact was not indicted nor tried for treason. My own thought is that if those who did the actual fighting and dying to kill the Confederacy, and had him in their power after the war, chose not to prosecute him for treason, why should I doubt their judgement?
I recall going to Maywood with my family for many summers as a child. So many wonderful memories. So sad that children will never have the chance to experience it. If not for Maywood I would never have seen a beach as a child.
What a slap in the face. Curious to see what the racial make up is of the voting members
@oak, do you believe that removing a statue of a traitor and slaver from a place of honor is revisionism?
FYI the Soviet Union was killed by under investment in its economy, cronyism and over investment in its military. Revisionism was irrelevant.
Revisionism was a Soviet disease. It eventually killed them.
Did you really issue a tweet where you called Forrest's remains a "carcass"?
We could build a wall around it. A great great wall, the most beautitful wall of all.
We could paint a giant civil rights mural on the wall. Pictures of Selma, Brmingham and more.
Thats some history to be remembered. A truly glorious wall it would be
Hmmm... All girl band with incontinence? Has a ring to it...
By Flyer Staff
download this issue
click here to see more »