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Slavery can’t be edited out of U.S. history

Melvin B. Miller | 8/31/2017, 6 a.m.
After the organized racist and anti-Semitic violence in Charlottesville, many Americans became aware for the first time of the dynamic ...
“Those silly dudes are trying to raise money for a Hitler memorial.” Photo by Dan Drew

America has a serious problem with the loyalty of its citizens. When school begins, students in elementary schools across the country will usually start the day by saluting the flag and pledging allegiance to the United States of America. But the Charlottesville violence, purportedly regarding Confederate monuments, demonstrated to the nation that there is another perspective abroad that is alien to the fundamental American principle that “all men are created equal.”

After the organized racist and anti-Semitic violence in Charlottesville, many Americans became aware for the first time of the dynamic influence of the Confederacy that initiated America’s Civil War. Reliable journalistic reports established that there are an estimated 1500 statues, monuments and plaques as tributes to those who were prominent figures in the Confederate states and the Civil War against the U.S. government.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, the first seven states to join the Confederacy, all had previously become members of the United States of America, pursuant to Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Consequently, the violation of the allegiance owed by these states to the U.S., together with the decision to levy war against the U.S., is a classic case of treason. It is incredible that government institutions have so extensively sanctioned memorials to honor those whose conduct was unquestionably traitorous.

According to Becky Little of History.com, citing a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “these monuments are spread over 31 states plus the District of Columbia — far exceeding the 11 Confederate states that seceded at the outset of the Civil War.” Little also quotes Mark Elliot, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, as having said, “The vast majority of [Confederate monuments] were built between the 1890s and 1950s, which matches up exactly with the era of Jim Crow segregation.”

It is reasonable to conclude that for the most part Confederate memorials have been created less to preserve history than to keep alive the spirit of racial and religious bigotry. The Germans have demonstrated an entirely different approach to curtailing the reemergence of a historical era that they now distinctly disapprove.

Neo-Nazis are not tolerated in Germany. A group of marchers with swastika flags would be arrested. There are severe laws against inciting hatred. Violations could earn severe jail sentences for the perpetrators.

Governors and mayors, like the bold Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, must remove from public lands those Confederate-era statues and memorials that are little more than symbols of hatred and bigotry.