I’m going to step back for a moment and address something that is not fun. There’s no pictures of tasty food in this post, or tales of my adult children or thoughts about middle age. The name of my blog is not only a play on my name, but also a description of my life. It’s good. Pretty darn good. And it’s easy to ignore the bad stuff around me; that fact is not good. When I set out to start this blog several months ago, I decided it was not going to address politics, because all of us need places to go, things to read, and shows to watch that are free of sensitive political conversations. I wanted (and still do) my blog to just be fun. However, I feel the need to address what’s been going on in our country. I feel that by ignoring it, I’m part of the problem. This is not the first in a series of political posts; I will go back to tasty treats and cute clothes and family antics because that is what I set out to do in the first place. This is just something I need to get off my chest.
What prompted this? I watched a 22 minute documentary that Vice produced in which they followed the organizers of the white supremacist march over the course of the weekend. To say it’s a chilling account is an understatement. It had both a physical and emotional impact on me. I encourage you to watch it.
I’ve been thinking about the monument issue (which isn’t THE issue, but is at the center of the recent domestic terrorism), and I will be completely honest here: my original position was that we were walking a very fine line by removing monuments of historical significance; that they should be here to remind us of the mistakes of the past so we never go there again. I think it’s dangerous to re-write history by making certain people/things/events just disappear. I’ve always thought about them from an educational perspective, not the perspective of glorifying the actual person.
I have since changed my position on this, and here’s why: I started thinking about the term “put on a pedestal.” It means “to give someone uncritical respect or admiration; treat someone as an ideal rather than a real person.” The Confederate soldiers should not be figuratively put up on pedestals as described in that definition for obvious reasons, yet their likenesses are literally on pedestals. Does that mean they represent an ideal American and that we admire them for their actions? No, definitely not. Then I heard a black woman explain that the statue (up on a pedestal) looks down on them and it’s a constant reminder of oppression, symbolic of the way slave owners looked down on their slaves. Hearing her say that struck a chord with me. I understood.
So what to do with these statues of folks who fought to keep slavery? I’m of the opinion they belong in museums with placards explaining who they were and what they did. Use these to teach our young people and visitors to our country about the past, about how far we’ve come, and about how far we still have to go. Civil War museums with artifacts from both sides would be the best way to deal with this. Tell the whole story. I do not think eradicating them all together is the right thing to do, but they do not belong at the center of towns, or on the grounds of government buildings, or any public place (what you choose to display on your own private property is up to you).
When Trump attempted to draw a parallel between these guys and the likes of George Washington, who owned slaves, I nearly laughed out loud. It’s not the same thing. His likeness appears on everything from money to mountains and monuments because he did something good for our country. NPR explained why Trump’s comparison doesn’t work in this terrific article. Here is an excerpt:
“Washington guided the foundation of a country that eventually preserved freedom for all. Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, in which a single phrase — “that all men are created equal” — became a hammer that later generations would use to help smash the chains of slavery.”
I decided that defining some of the words that swirl at the center of this controversy would help (emphasis on key words added by me):
Monument – A). a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great B). a memorial stone or a building erected in remembrance of a person or event (like in a cemetery)
Notable – A.) worthy of note: remarkable B.) distinguished, prominent
Museum – an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value
Racism – : prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Nationalism – loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially: a sense of national consciousness; exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations
White Supremacist – a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races
There aren’t “many sides” here folks. Your esteemed leader is flat out wrong.
And, there is no gray area: you’re either a racist or not.
It doesn’t matter to what degree a racist may be – whether it’s radical and violent hatred like the guys in the video, or just subtle actions behind the curtain – racism is racism.
People who are not racist and fight against Nazis and white supremacists are not “evil” as Trump called them. They were (and are) fighting evil. Clearly, Trump is racist and if you don’t recognize this, you are part of the problem. I’m not saying that if you voted for him, you’re a racist. I know there are plenty of good people out there who are not racists who voted for him for other reasons. What I am saying is that if you voted for him, you put a racist (and a sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic) man into the highest office in our country and by doing so, you support his views.
I don’t know how to fix this mess, but I do know that I must do my part and that starts with me refusing to bite my tongue on sensitive subjects to keep the peace and preserve friendships; I need to speak up and make my voice heard. And so do you. Speak out against racism.