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Re: “Mayor: Memphis Situation Different from New Orleans on Confederate Statues

So my question is, where do we draw the line? I'm not advocating one way or another here--at least not intentionally--however when we start to judge historic figures by the changing standards of time, we begin a process we cannot stop.

Someone said for example that we don't put up monuments to losers. Really? Geronimo has a monument at his grave, and despite his best efforts, Native Americans lost. The Trail of Tears is a monument to a lost cause. No other president was as disgraced as Richard Nixon, yet he has a presidential library. So saying we don't honor "losers" isn't quite true.

Another pointed out that George Washington was a slave holder. Many of the founding fathers were. Some changed their mind and at least freed their slaves at their death, others did not. Even Lincoln, in writing the Emancipation Proclamation, only applied it to the states in rebellion. In other words, if you were unlucky enough to be a slave whose owner lived in a state that has not seceded from the union, YOU WERE STILL A SLAVE. Yet that imperfect executive order is celebrated throughout the country as the beginning of the end of slavery.

What if in the ensuing 100 years we discover aspects of MLK's life that future generations find abhorrent? Would you agree that if their standards change, that in 100 years it will be okay for them to tear down the many monuments erected to his memory, not to mention renaming all the schools, public buildings, and streets that currently bear his name? I for one couldn't fathom granting future generations that permission, yet our great-, great-grandchildren may be arguing that very issue, and we will be unable to prevent it.

The fact is we do not know how things will change in the future, and how what society views as correct may change. And if we spend our time trying to erase hate from the past, don't we risk having that hate be forgotten...and even repeated?

My personal preference. Leave the monument, but add to both its interpretation (like our National Battlefields do constantly in light of changing attitudes and increased knowledge) and include other monuments in the park that recognize the progression of history since the time it was erected. Don't cover it over, show it as the starting point for the changes to come. In that context, it will serve as a vivid reminder of how important it was to change, as well as how far we have come, and how much further we have to go. We might even include a monument that reflects this 21st century discussion, and the consideration of tearing down all Confederate Monuments, and why that was an important discussion. But simply erasing it as if it never happened--no, I don't agree with that. I don't want my descendants thinking a few hundred years from now that the Civil War never happened.

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Posted by Spirit11 on 06/27/2017 at 12:49 PM


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