Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Monuments

The aftermath of the tragedy in Charleston has triggered a lively and not always civil discussion on the action in South Carolina to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the capitol grounds (which I agree with) has generated calls fore removal of all symbols of the Confederacy. Most of this noise is just noise in my opinion. 

When some misanthrope murdered nine people under color of the Confederate Battle Flag, cries went up to destroy everything Confederate. With the Internet and cable news that’s a lot of crying. 

In 1876, Native Americans defeated a U.S. Army column on the Little Bighorn River in Montana. In another reversal of the axiom that the victor writes history, the loser celebrated the event as Custer’s Last Stand and established a national cemetery with an obelisk. Brewers issued thousands of murals (largely inaccurate) depicting (celebrating?) the event.
The Custer Battlefield National Monument became part of the National Parks system. The victors commented on being left out of the record. In 1991, the cemetery became the Little Bighorn National Monument and now includes a memorial to the Native Americans who fought there as well. History is now more complete. 

When someone objects to a memorial to a cause and a government established to enslave people I suggest telling a more complete story rather than eradicating history. How about another memorial to African Americans who fought for their freedom in Union blue or to citizens of seceding states who resisted secession? 

Instead of less history we need more history.