Friday, August 25, 2017

How Many Statues of Union Generals Are There?

Recently the alt-right has been stirring the pot over the removal of Confederate monuments. There has also been a lot of discussion about renaming schools, roads and public buildings named after Confederates. And there are a lot of Confederate monuments: literally thousands, scattered mostly across the South, but also in states like New York, Idaho and Montana.

But how many statues are there of Union generals? Does anyone even know the names of any Union generals besides Ulysses S. Grant? Even I wouldn't remember him, except that he was also president and showed up in the Wild, Wild West TV show in the 1960s.

Sure, lots of things are named after Abraham Lincoln, but you can't really count them because he was president. Ditto for Grant. But the other generals who actually won the Civil War? Unless you're a Civil War reenactor or a history buff, most Americans have no idea who those other generals were.

Look at this list of Union Civil War commemorations. Most entries are for places named after Union figures, and most states have only a few. A lot of them are in the South. The Civil War is not a thing for most Northerners.

But every Southern state has dozens, and some hundreds, of Confederate memorials. Monuments to losers who betrayed their country and got their own people killed to perpetuate a corrupt and immoral system of slavery that benefited a tiny minority of wealthy elites.

The majority of Northerners view the Civil War as ancient history. We know we won, it's over and done. It was a bad time in our history that we shouldn't forget, but shouldn't belabor either. Let a century and a half of bygones be bygones.

White supremacists in the South have been unwilling to do that. They have spent the last century rewriting history by erecting monuments to the people who lost the war that tore this country in half, killing more than half a million Americans. They've whitewashed that treachery, reframing the root cause as "states rights" instead of slavery and white supremacy. They have tried to ennoble a bunch of immoral skinflints who thought they were better than the people they abducted from another continent, who they didn't want to pay for working their fingers to the bone in the fields.

If Donald Trump doesn't want to "destroy history" by tearing down statues to Confederate traitors, fine. Then he should erect a statue of Lincoln, or Harriet Tubman, or Sojourner Truth, or a Union general, or an unknown Union soldier or slave right beside every one of those Confederate memorials. Then hang a sign around the neck of the Confederate traitor with a body count of the hundreds or thousands who died because that man betrayed the United States of America.

If Trump wants to remember our history, he should erect a memorial in every place a crazed white mob lynched an innocent black man, or lynched a white man for helping blacks, or lynched Union loyalists during the Civil War. That would mean building another five or ten thousand monuments to the victims of racism and treachery.

But, no, that would be too divisive. It would stir up unpleasant memories. We don't want to wage the Civil War again.

Better to just move the Confederate memorials out of our parks and squares. Remove the Confederate flags from our state capitols. Put those symbols of a bygone age in dusty museums where the sins of our forefathers can be viewed dispassionately, without pride or shame.


Unknown said...

Mainly Horse shit by a person who has his own view, not subject to opinion of others. raised in the North to believe northern cultures. An open minded person would not have a pre formed opinion with no understanding that NORTHERNERS also had and owned slaves. You are putting your views above facts.

Anonymous said...

Take down all statues of northen men who fought in civil war

Anonymous said...

If you have a confederate flag you are a fucking confederate and NOT an American.