I often agree with Edgar Allen Beem, but cannot agree with his stance on Confederate symbols. I’ll leave Columbus for another time, mostly agreeing that, in this case, additional historical commemoration and knowledge of Native peoples lends some balance to the complex (and violent) history of the “Age of Exploration.” (And the name of our nation is not “America.”)
But as to Confederate flags and iconic “heroes,” we do the nation an injustice and we do the South an injustice. Are slavery and racial violence all the South is to be known for? Because whether your relatives like it or not, the Civil War was fought for slavery as a state right (take a look at all 11 resolutions of secession; they all cite retention of slavery as the core issue). Is an entire region to be historically defined only by the events and consequences of four years of brutal warfare and its aftermaths? How sad for the South and for the nation.
There’s need to remember the dead who were “pawns in the game.” But statues and flags of racial oppression, and of a separate and “foreign’ nation,” have no place in the public sector where taxpayers of every color and philosophy foot the bill to honor those who fought on the wrong side of history. These symbols belong in private spaces, museums, Confederate cemeteries and on T-shirts. No one will lose the liberty of wearing or flying the Confederate symbols on their persons, over their homes or in dedicated spaces for commemorating “heritage.”
But to deny this heritage included slavery, racial violence and legal segregation inspiring Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws is to wipe out more history than the public space removal of any flag or rebel general (and Robert E. Lee opposed such statues).