The Civil War took place when this nation was in the bumpiness of maturing. It was as much an economic conflict as it was any other. Slavery was most certainly one of the compelling issues … but it was not the lone issue.
There is, in this nation, a certain acknowledgement that different regions bring forward a certain personality. I get regional differences. I appreciate them, too.
New Englanders revere their rebellious past. The West still relishes their independent persona … and their law-ignoring bravado. Alaskans insist on their rugged uniqueness. Mid-Westerners stand for toughness. So, too, does the South remember their own specialness. Their own brand. Their own regional culture.
These statues no more glorify slavery than a monument in Lexington or Concord eulogizes mutiny. Or Boot Hill blesses justice by a Colt .45.
Histories are complex recipes of personalities and issues and events blended in different proportions at different moments.
The South embraces an especially hard history full of sometimes disturbing contradictions … just like Rome and Beijing and Berlin and Baghdad. I get that.
But I look beyond that single issue to a lifestyle and a culture that since that moment has woven even its sins into the present context.
These monuments keep that process alive in a new and admirable context. They are, in fact, necessary reminders of how things have changed. For the better.
No one group has complete command of virtue. Not New Englanders. Not Westerners. Not those rogue Alaskans.
History is the creation of imperfect men and women … and their imperfect struggles to correct those imperfections. And sometimes those struggles are very unpretty.
These monuments do recall a glorious past … with its great sins, too. But present in these monuments are the memories and stories and legends … of valor … and courage … and loyalty … and bravery.
No one thought of that.
And no one thought of art at all. That these monuments are much more than what some perceive. That they are exquisite examples of our own beauty wrapped around our worst sins.
And no one thought of modifying these monuments in some way. And that sort absolutism bothers the hell out of me. That rush to crush.
And that seems to be today’s reality. That America’s past is ever ugly. Filled with great sinners. Worth erasing. Because some sketchy mob of American Taliban noise-makers is tantruming non-stop … and that is their chorus. And that our self-flagellation should never … not ever! … stop.
And I say… “Bullshit”.
Monday morning musing … from Michelle Moore … brought to
you by the letter “M” … and a shout-out to a guy named Orwell.