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Friday, August 18, 2017

Monuments of Shame and Division

Sic transit gloria mundi

Article 15. Public symbols and monuments.

In the exercise of their powers, the Public Administrations shall take appropriate measures to remove shields, insignia, plaques and other objects or mentions commemorating the personal or collective exaltation of the military uprising, the Civil War, and repression of the Dictatorship. These measures may include the withdrawal of subsidies or public aid.

The provisions of the previous section shall not apply when the mentions are of strict private remembrance, without exaltation of those confronted, or when there are artistic, architectural or artistic-religious reasons protected by law.

The Government will collaborate with the Autonomous Communities and Local Entities in the elaboration of a catalog of vestiges related to the Civil War and the Dictatorship for the effects foreseen in the previous section.

Public Administrations may withdraw subsidies or aid to private owners who do not act in the manner provided in section 1 of this article.

Spain knows a little about tearing down monuments that offend a good part of their population. Across Spain there has been a race to eliminate the exaltation of the Franco dictatorship. Not only likenesses of El Caudillo have been torn down but also those of his henchman in his dictatorship. Streets, plazas, and schools have been renamed to reflect public sentiment against the 40 year reign of Franco.

Removing statues isn't rewriting history as many are saying. We are just deciding that not all the people we once chose to exalt are worthy of our praise, to put it lightly. The fact that we have been exalting the architects of the Confederacy has undoubtedly contributed to the racism and ignorance that we see rearing its ugly head today in places like Charlottesville. Praising the leaders of the Confederacy paved the way for 100 years of the ugliest sort of racism and segregation in the South after they were soundly defeated in the Civil War. I think it's time once and for all to set the record straight so we don't breed yet another generation of Southerners who think the rebel cause was noble.

Our delusional image of the noble South has gone on for far too long and praised by too many. Our popular culture is mostly to blame in how Americans today view the legacy of the Confederacy. I would guess that most of them have never read a book on the subject and many have probably never read any book in their adult life. Or perhaps they’ve read Gone with the Wind, one of the most popular and beloved novels in American history. I read it in high school and was fairly appalled but its suggestion that perhaps Black people were better off under the benevolent slavery of the gentrified South than they were after the victory of the Northern Mongols who flooded into the hallowed grounds of Tara.
I wish that I had kept track of every Western movie Hollywood has cranked out over the years which portrays the Southern rebel army as the nobler of the belligerents. The Outlaw Josey Wales, Cold Mountain, and The Undefeated are three that I can think of off the top of my head that fit this vile description of apologists for the slave holders.
Freedom of expression shouldn't give you the right to carry the flags of our sworn enemies like the Nazis and the Confederacy. Why not just carry the ISIS banner while you’re at it? You could put all three on a single mast.

If you are unable or unwilling to distinguish between people carrying torches while screaming racist and anti-Semitic filth from people who are protesting against that sort of vile human garbage what does that say about you? Contrary to the opinion of our president, people who oppose White supremacists and Nazis are not just the other side of the same coin. If merely saying “Black lives matter” offends you then you are no friend of mine. In fact, this would make you my enemy.


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