Monument Valley * noisycandy

As protests over the deaths of black Amerikans at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect continue unabated, another battle is afoot, this one involving, well, inanimate objects. Yup, monuments are under attack and here comes TAT on an (imaginary) white charger to save the day.

Don Gathers stands in front of a statue depicting Robert E. Lee during a racial justice protest in Charlottesville on May 30, 2020. Photo by Ryan M. Kelly / AFP via Getty Images.

Countries around the globe have storied histories of idols to vanquished regimes toppled and destroyed. November, 9th, 1989, the day my wife and I officially moved in together (we lived in sin for nearly two years before hitching), saw the demise of the Berlin Wall. When Saddam and Khadaffi fell, so too did their respective eddifi. And on and on it goes.

None other than William Barr, the hopefully soon-to-be-impeached Attorney General of the US of A, recently said it best — “”Well, history is written by the winners, so it largely depends on who’s writing the history.” Indeed, I agree, the winners write history. Except when they don’t.

I was taught in the tenth grade (that be 1976, coincidentally) the North won the war. The Union was saved, the rebels vanquished, and the country, slowly but surely, reconstructed. The slave were freed and folks went about their daily toil knowing, for better or worse, the United States were in fact united anew.

Again, for the record, I cannot sanction the defacement or destruction of public property. But people are angry and angry folk do angry things. They take angry action and symbols at odds with their values are fair game, at least in their collective agitated state. Once a mob gets the idea that they can make a statement, good, bad, or indifferent, best get out of the way.

So, it’s no surprise that TAT has tried to use this ‘lawlessness’ as a foil to buttress his recent Nixonian initiative to become the ‘law and order’ President. It’s catching on much like fetch in the movie Clueless whose title historians will repurposed come time tomes be writ about these four disastrous years. I smell a copyright infringement suit a-brewing.

But back to the issue at hand. The Southern Poverty Law Center compiled a database of monuments to the Confederacy. It’s brilliant. SPLC has identified over 1700 such ‘monuments, place names and other symbols’, to well, the team that finished second. Curiously, at least to a Yankee like me, the lion’s share were built between 1890 and 1940, well after Appomattox.

In the late 19th century, groups like United Daughter of the Confederacy and Son of Confederate Veterans formed. Their sole goal it appears was to preserve the memory of the Lost Cause and erect markers. In their defense, they did care for former soldiers and their widows and kin at least until they reached their mortal coil.

Today, these groups are considered white-supremacist and historically, they align rather neatly with the KKK. They venerate their former leaders like Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee. Mr. Lee alone has 230 statues and such. I mean, he was Salutatorian of his class at West Point in 1829 (U.S. Grant graduated in the middle of the pack in 1843). Interestingly, there is but one monument to Benedict Arnold, notorious traitor to the Revolution — the Boot at Saratoga albeit his name is conspicuously absent.

Now for the fun part. The states with the highest concentration of shrines are Georgia (114), Virginia (110), and North Carolina (97). Get the picture? GA and NC went squarely GOP in 2016 and VA, to some surprise, went for Hillary. Battleground States the bunch, both literally and figuratively; each will be critical to the 2020 campaign.

So, to summarize, TAT has chosen to defend statues to dead, losers, sorry, silver medalists to curry favor with a constituency he desperately needs to preserve his slim chances of re-election. In the meantime, he’s content to ignore pretty much every living Amerikan soul by ignoring the greatest existential threat to our collective well-being (COVID) in our nearly 250-year history. Got it?

The winners, meanwhile, have decided they’ve had enuf of these monuments to separatists, segregationist, and well, losers. And winners write history. Right, Bill?

And right they will.

Originally published at https://noisycandy.com on June 26, 2020.

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