If you’ve been on social media lately, you have seen the left’s organized propaganda campaign regarding the supposedly nefarious reasons behind the erection of Confederate monuments in the past. In the bizarre mind of the left, who see all of American history only through the prisms of racism, sexism, bigotry, and homophobia, the only reason Southerners of the past put up statues honoring Confederate generals was to send a secret and subtle hidden racist message of white supremacy that would last into the future. We are actually surprised they aren’t claiming that Richard Spencer got in a time machine and put up the monuments himself, as there is as much proof of that as there is of their current theory.
First Claim Quickly Debunked
First, after Charlottesville, righteously indignant leftists immediately took to the airwaves and the internet declaring that the vast majority of confederate statues were put up in the 50’s and 60’s as a protest of the Civil Rights movement. For example, on August 15th, Joy Reid, the host of MSNBC’s The Reid Report stated, “The idea of putting up (Confederate) monuments actually didn’t happen right after the Civil War. It happened during the 1960s.” It didn’t take long for this claim to be debunked, as even a study from the extreme leftist Southern Poverty Law Center showed that the vast majority of Confederate monuments were erected between 1900 and 1918.
Second Claim Invented
Undeterred, the left then actually opened some books and figured out what was going on between 1900-1918 in the South to find a pretext for their already ill-formed conclusion. Well, lo and behold, racism was going on in the early 1900’s! Never mind the fact that racism was also alive and well in the entire United States from before the nation’s founding in 1776, through the 1960’s and, if you ask the left, rages on today perhaps worse than ever before.
But, the left proclaims that the South had Jim Crow laws and segregation during the period of 1900-1918. This is true. However, Jim Crow segregation laws had been passed by states and municipalities in the South since the 1880’s and these laws lasted sheer through to the 1960’s. Thus, ANY period the statues were built from 1880-1965 could be considered the “Jim Crow Era.”
You might then ask a leftist when any Southern town could have erected a Confederate statue or monument in history and not have had an automatic racist intent. As we know, the true answer is never. But in order to not appear unreasonable, the leftist will tell you, “Well, right after the war and before Jim Crow!”
Ah yes. From the war’s end in 1865 until the 1880’s, the South was a smoldering, devastated, defeated, destitute and wrecked former nation, in many places still under the control of the Union army. One can only imagine that after such an obliterating defeat and while suffering anarchical and poverty stricken conditions in many places, the first thing Southerners would do, instead of working to rebuild their homes, societies and lives, would be to raise millions of dollars and take years to build statues in honor of the generals that had just lost the war. Yes, only in the minds of liberal history majors in 2017 does this make sense.
In addition, if one steps back from following the Social Justice Warriors into the fever swamps of historical revisionism, one would begin to realize that their logic actually makes no sense. For they make the elementary logical error of Post hoc ergo propter hoc. This is a logical fallacy that states “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.”
Thus, just because the boom in Confederate memorials took place from 1900-1918 does not prove it was a result of or in any way inspired by Jim Crow laws which began in the 1880’s and ended in the 1960’s. Instead, the leftists would need to show us hard causation evidence linking the two events. They can’t.
Since leftists believe every Southerner in the United States from 1776 to 2017 was and is a frothing at the mouth racist, you’d think they would easily be able to prove a racist motive from historical documents commissioning these statues and memorials, or perhaps racist speeches given at the dedication ceremonies in front of these memorials.
After all, if even one Southerner who took on the project of building monument to a Confederate general had expressed racist motives you’d expect the left to be plastering this document all over cyberspace. But yet, they have produced not one hint of this evidence.
Leftists Put On the Tin Foil Hat
Since they can’t prove an overt motive, they have now concocted a paranoid conspiracy theory that tells us the Southerners who built these monuments had only one sinister motive in their heart and that was to secretly serve as a means to oppress African-Americans then and into the future. Nevermind the fact that, for the most part, African-American Southerners of this era were sadly very poor, uneducated, vastly outnumbered, in many places disenfranchised, and held almost no power politically or otherwise.
Yet, according to the leftists, we are supposed to believe Southerners spent millions of hard to come by dollars and commissioned expensive sculptors to spend 20 years working to build hundreds of statues to Confederate generals to oppress African Americans during a period where they were already oppressed. Does this make sense?
Remember, no leftist has produced a single document or speech demonstrating this intention in any document or speech related to the statues even though, according to leftists, such racist speeches would have been welcome in the South of that era and not looked down on. In addition, how building costly and labor intensive inanimate objects would be an effective way of oppressing people who were already oppressed is anyone’s guess.
As you can see, this is quite the conspiracy theory. All this time these wily Southerners were smarter than we gave them credit for. All of these Confederate statues are actually hidden messages of hate concealed for over 100 years only to be decoded and brought out into the open by 2017 SJW’s whose highly tuned ears were able to hear their faint racist dog whistles echoing through the centuries.
The Real Reason the Statues Went Up
Fortunately, for those of us with functioning brains and a sense of history, we know something else was happening around the time of the spike in Confederate monuments that is ignored by the 500 Soros funded articles on your Facebook news feed. To their credit, even left wing PolitiFact was forced to admit it briefly before veering back into the fever swamps of conspiracy theory:
This was an era of generational change during which Civil War veterans, dying of old age, were venerated by their children and grandchildren, experts told us.
“Organizations like the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans came into being,” said Charles S. Bullock, III, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Georgia. “Civil War veterans were honored in parades. There is a Confederate Memorial Day which pre-dates the National Memorial Day.”
But as a victorious North fixed its gaze on a prosperous future, the American South was mired in poverty that would persist for generations. The monuments were a way to look back to an idealized past.
“Tributes to the Confederacy — placing statues, naming streets and other public facilities — were part of the Lost Cause ideology that focused on an idyllic era of stately mansions, beautiful women and gallant Confederate officers,” Bullock said.
As Mashable.com stated:
For the South, the United Confederate Veterans (U.C.V.) was inaugurated in 1889. Local Confederate veteran associations proliferated after the war. At the movement’s peak, more than 1,500 such groups were amalgamated in the U.C.V. The U.C.V.’s stated purpose was to promote “social, literary, historical and benevolent” aims.
During the 1890s, around 30,000 veterans and 50,000 further guests were present at the annual U.C.V. reunion.
Of special note is the year 1913, right near the beginning of the Confederate monument spike. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg where veterans of both sides of the war came together in a reunion of grand fashion. There was healing and forgiveness on both sides. Former Union and Confederate soldiers who earlier faced each other in the bloodiest war in American history stood side by side in reconciliation.
It is easy to forget that veterans who fought in that war were still alive at the time. Both sides saw its horrors. To a vast majority of Southern soldiers the motivation to fight was to defend their homeland from invasion and destruction. 98% of Southerners did not own slaves during the war, although plantation owners in the Union states of Kentucky, Delaware, and Maryland did.
Defending the 2% rich plantation owners’ “right” to have slaves was not the motivation for Southern men to take bullets at Shiloh, be maimed at Antietam, or leave their wives widowed and children fatherless at Gettysburg. If you are reading this and are so brainwashed by your last Berkley history class that you don’t believe it, listen to a Confederate veteran himself explain it to you at minute 13.
The real reason most of the statues went up during this era was simple. The statues went up in honor of those veterans on both sides who were coming together to heal old wounds and unite the country.
It is very easy in 2017 to sit in judgment of these Southern men and women, many of whom are our own ancestors. In fact, it seems some are happy to make the most cynical judgments possible about what was in these people’s hearts when they raised millions of dollars over the years to build these monuments to remember the generals who lead many of their loved ones in battle to defend their homeland which was in the process of being ravaged and destroyed by war.
Southern Generals such as Robert E. Lee were widely respected in both the North and South. PGT Beauregard spent his post-war life helping former slaves. But this didn’t matter at all to those who took down their statues recently in New Orleans.
President McKinley’s Speech
The movement to erect the monuments arose as a means to unite the country and move forward in forgiveness. President McKinley, a Republican, gave a speech in Atlanta in 1898 which spurred this sentiment and led to the erection of the Confederate Monument in section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery:
Sectional feeling no longer holds back the love we bear each other. The Union is once more the common atlas of our love, our devotion and sacrifice. The old flag again waves over us in peace, with new glories, which YOUR sons and ours this year have added to its folds.
What cause we have for rejoicing, saddened only by the fact that so many of our brave men fell on the field or sickened and died from the hardship, the exposure, and others, returning, bringing wounds and disease. The memory of the dead will be a precious legacy, and the disabled, the nation’s care. A nation which cares for its disabled soldiers as we have always done will never lack defenders.
The national cemeteries for those who fell in battle are proof that the dead as well as the living have our love. What an army of silent sentinels, and with what loving care their graves are kept. EVERY soldier’s grave made during our unfortunate Civil War is a tribute to American valor, and while, when these graves were made, we differed widely about the future of this Government, these differences were long ago settled by the arbitrament of arms, and the time has now come in the evolution of sentiment and feeling under the providence of God when, in the spirit of fraternity, we should share with you in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers.
The cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act, and if it needed further justification it is found in the gallantry to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just passed by the sons and grandsons of these heroic dead.
President McKinley was assassinated by an “anarchist” (sound familiar?), but the monument at Arlington would be erected ten years later. This is it.
The inscription reads:
NOT FOR FAME OR REWARD
NOT FOR PLACE OR FOR RANK
NOT LURED BY AMBITION
OR GOADED BY NECESSITY
BUT IN SIMPLE
OBEDIENCE TO DUTY
AS THEY UNDERSTOOD IT
THESE MEN SUFFERED ALL
DARED ALL — AND DIED
What you’ve read in this article may be incomprehensible to some today in the heat of the current political argument. But your average Southerners in the early 1900’s, who didn’t have much money to begin with, were not sitting around thinking of very expensive and time consuming ways to send hidden racist signals to future generations.
We implore you to please take a look at the photos, mostly from the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, especially President Harding welcoming Confederate veterans at the White House.
This was the climate going on in the US at the time most of the statues were being put up. A coming together, healing of old wounds, and honoring those veterans who were reuniting after the bloodiest war this nation has ever known. Union soldiers and even several Presidents honored the courage and valor of the Confederate veterans and did not begrudge them their statutes which stood as memorials to their fallen heroes and the lives lost in that war.
We can learn a valuable lesson from these men in 1913. If they could forgive each other and move forward after trying to kill each other on all of the Civil War battlefields we see around us, we too can come together, get past our differences and move forward as Americans.