bookmark_borderPoliticians express delight at ruining of National Statuary Hall

The National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building is now ruined. During the night, the state of Virginia removed its statue of Robert E. Lee. The Statuary Hall contains 100 statues (now 99) representing two noteworthy historical figures from each state, which are chosen by representatives from the respective states. Until recently, Virginia was represented by Lee and George Washington. The state is planning to spend $50,000 in taxpayer money to replace Lee with civil rights activist Barbara Johns.

In my opinion, this is an absolutely disgraceful move. Johns, who led a student walkout to protest conditions at her all-black school in 1951, is not an adequate or deserving replacement for Lee, who led the armed forces of the Confederate States of America in a valiant effort to establish an independent country. Johns was described as “brave, courageous, and fearless” by her sister, Joan Johns Cobbs. A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial called her “a symbol of youthful courage, conviction and action” who “represents the promise of tomorrow.” And a Washington Post editorial stated that “she and Washington make a fine and fitting pair to represent Virginia.” 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Johns was nowhere near as brave, courageous, fearless, or honorable as Lee was. She is completely unworthy of standing alongside George Washington in the Statuary Hall. With Lee gone, the U.S. Capitol becomes yet another item to be crossed off my list of places that I dreamed of visiting one day. 

“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”

“The Congress will continue our work to rid the Capitol of homages to hate, as we fight to end the scourge of racism in our country,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.” She also called the repugnant act “welcome news.” 

And State Senator Louise Lucas, who led the commission that recommended removing the Lee statue, said: “Confederate images do not represent who we are in Virginia, that’s why we voted unanimously to remove this statue. I am thrilled that this day has finally arrived, and I thank Governor Northam and the Commission for their transformative work.”

Let’s go over these false, mean-spirited, and irrational comments:

To say that the removal of Lee is welcome news and something that people should be proud of is so far from the truth that it defies comprehension. The idea that anyone could be proud, thrilled, or even remotely happy about this development is sickening. With Lee included in its collection, the National Statuary Hall was a place where diverse historical figures and diverse viewpoints were celebrated and honored. Now it has become a shrine to mindless conformity. Lucas is correct in calling this “transformative work,” but it is an understatement to say that this is a negative, not a positive, transformation. If Confederate images do not represent who the people of Virginia are, then that reflects badly on the people of Virginia, not on the Confederate images. And I suppose this is a step forward, as Northam called it, if one’s goal is to create a society in which all individuality, uniqueness, and independent thought are stomped out, but why anyone would have this as their goal is incomprehensible.

Contrary to Northam’s and Pelosi’s claims, the Confederacy and its statues are not symbols of racism or “homages to hate,” nor is there any “bigotry of the Confederacy.” Ironically, the only bigotry here is that demonstrated by Pelosi, Northam, Lucas, and other devotees of the political correctness movement that seeks to eradicate from the earth all traces of those who fail to conform to their ideology. The supreme irony in this situation is that Virginia had been telling its story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion all along… by honoring Lee and other Confederate leaders. If Northam truly cared about diversity and inclusion, he would have left Lee in place in the U.S. Capitol and preserved and protected all of his state’s magnificent Confederate monuments instead of brutally tearing them down and spending millions of taxpayer dollars to replace them with new statues of conformist, politically correct figures. 

A country in which there is no room for celebrating the Confederacy in any place of honor is not a country in which I want to live. Political leaders have made it clear that there is no place for someone like me in this country. I am devastated, I am enraged, and I am shattered. I hate the United States of America with all my heart. The fact that people would deliberately do such a heinous act and then issue statements gloating about how happy it makes them is beyond despicable, beyond reprehensible, and beyond disgusting. Northam, Pelosi, Lucas, and any person who believes that this development is in any way positive deserve to burn in Hell for all eternity. 

bookmark_borderPolitically correct bullies vote to remove Lee statue from Antietam

In yet another step in their quest to make the world as bad a place as possible, the politically correct bullies are senselessly attempting to get rid of the statue of Robert E. Lee on the Antietam battlefield in Maryland. The House of Representatives recently voted in favor of Resolution 970, which calls for the removal of the magnificent statue.

“It was commissioned with the explicit intent of honoring the Confederacy and glorifies the Confederacy — its leaders, the cause of slavery and open rebellion against the United States,” said Rep. Anthony Brown. “It’s also historically inaccurate. The monument depicts Gen. Lee riding up to the battlefield on horseback while evidence shows that the general actually traveled to a different part of the battlefield in an ambulance due to a broken wrist… Instead of teaching us the dark lessons of our history, this statue sanitizes the actions of men who fought a war to keep black Americans in chains. There is no reason why any of our nation’s public spaces should have monuments celebrating those who betrayed their country.” Brown also called Lee a “brutal slave owner” and called the institution of slavery “savage.” 

“I cannot find a single case of any other country on earth where monuments and memorials are put up to honor the generals of enemy forces in a civil war, or any other war,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin. “There’s something freakishly unusual about this practice.” He also called the Confederacy “neither noble nor heroic.”

Let’s go over these arguments:

First of all, the Confederacy was both noble and heroic. The fact that a statue honors and glorifies the Confederacy is a good thing, because the Confederacy deserves to be honored and glorified. This is because the Confederacy was in open rebellion against the United States. Contrary to what Representatives Brown and Raskin argue, rebelling against a government is a good thing, not a bad thing. The Confederacy was fighting to form an independent country, which is exactly what the colonies were doing during the Revolutionary War. If you believe the Confederacy was in the wrong, then in order to be logically consistent, you must also believe that America was in the wrong during the Revolutionary War and the British Empire in the right. 

To address Brown’s point about slavery, yes it is true that slavery was part of what the Confederacy was fighting for. It was one of the reasons why the southern states chose to secede from the United States. But the Confederacy’s primary cause was not slavery but secession itself. To treat the Confederacy as synonymous with slavery is to ignore the fact that the Confederates were fighting for their independence, while the Union side was fighting to force other people to remain part of the country against their will. Anyone who truly values liberty and opposes authoritarianism would believe, as I do, that the Confederate cause overall was morally better and more honorable than the Union cause.

As for Brown’s claim that slavery was savage, perhaps that is true, but in my opinion not as savage as the despicable acts of destruction and vandalism that have been perpetrated against statues across the country and world by those with similar ideologies to Representatives Brown and Raskin. Additionally, although Lee was a slave owner, he was not brutal as Brown claims. He inherited a farm with numerous slaves and was relatively kind as slave owners go, freeing the slaves once the debts of the estate were settled. 

It also bears mentioning that the argument that Confederate generals were bad because they fought for slavery somewhat contradicts the argument that Confederate generals were bad because they “betrayed their country” and “waged open rebellion against the United States.” Those who make the first argument criticize members of the Confederacy because they (allegedly) trampled on the rights of the underdog by forcing people to endure slavery. Those who make the second argument criticize members of the Confederacy because they were the underdog, fighting back against a federal government that was trampling on them. These arguments are inconsistent: is trampling on the underdog bad, or is it actually good, as is presumed by the second argument? I have noticed numerous instances lately in which people, including Brown and Raskin, make both arguments in the same speech, completely ignoring the fact that they are contradicting themselves. 

As for Raskin’s argument that America is the only country to erect monuments to enemy generals, that might be correct. This practice may indeed be unusual. But that has nothing to do with whether it is good or bad. In my opinion, allowing the losing side of a war to be honored is not only good, but to do anything else would be morally reprehensible. As I explained above, the Union side was wrong and the Confederate side right. Therefore, the leaders and soldiers of the Confederacy absolutely deserve to be honored with monuments and memorials. The Confederacy deserved to win the war; in fact the southern states deserved to be allowed to exist as an independent country without the United States even waging war against them. Given that the United States unjustly won a war that it didn’t even have a moral right to wage, the absolute least that the U.S. could do would be to allow the losing side to erect monuments to their leaders and soldiers. To take away the right to commemorate the Confederate dead, as politically correct bullies are doing across the country, is to compound horrific injustice with even more injustice. It is beyond despicable.

Another counterpoint to Raskin’s argument is that in most wars, both countries continue to exist after the war. It makes sense that each country would honor only its own generals, because generals from other countries would be honored in those countries. But in the Civil War, one of the warring nations was completely obliterated as an independent entity. It’s not possible to put statues of Confederate generals in their own country, because the Union’s victory in the Civil War means that what used to be the Confederacy is now part of the United States. According to Raskin’s logic, the generals of the losing side in any war for independence do not deserve to be memorialized at all. This is stomping on the underdog and is, for the reasons explained above, beyond despicable.

As for Brown’s point about historical accuracy, it is true that Lee traveled in an ambulance for most of his time at Antietam, as opposed to riding on horseback. His horse, Traveller, had gotten scared by something and bolted while Lee was holding his bridle, causing Lee to fall and break his arm. I don’t really get the argument that because of that, Lee should not be allowed to have a statue at Antietam. I suppose technically the statue of him on horseback, without any visible injury to his arm, is not perfectly historically accurate. But the fact that Lee was injured during a random accident with his horse doesn’t make him any less of a brilliant general or honorable man. It doesn’t make him any less deserving of a statue, and it is mean-spirited to use this as a reason to get rid of Lee’s monument.

What is particularly reprehensible about Resolution 970 is the fact that the statue being targeted is located on a battlefield. The whole purpose of a battlefield is to commemorate history, specifically the battle that took place there. And if a battle took place, there were necessarily two sides, each fighting bravely for what they believed was right. To argue that only one side in a battle should be honored is bigoted, intolerant, cruel, and mean-spirited. When the politically correct bullies first began to demand the removal of statues, they focused on those monuments located on city streets. Move the statues to more appropriate places such as museums and battlefields, they demanded. But now statues on battlefields are under attack as well, demonstrating that the bullies’ quest to strip away everything beautiful, good, magnificent, and glorious from the world knows no bounds. Every excuse for a human being who voted in favor of this resolution is a bigoted, mindless coward who deserves to burn in Hell for all eternity. 

bookmark_borderGood news and bad news on General Lee

Statue Robert E. Lee Richmond.JPG
Robert E. Lee Statue (photo by Martin Falbisoner via WikiMedia)

This past week a judge ruled that the state of Virginia can remove the huge, magnificent statue of General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond. A group of homeowners sued to stop Governor Ralph Northam’s plan to take down the beautiful statue, but the judge dismissed their lawsuit. Lee is currently the last Confederate statue standing on Monument Ave; the city tragically removed the rest of the sculptures that gave the street its name earlier this year.

The fact that people actually exist who want this statue to be removed remains incomprehensible. This is another step in the disgraceful quest to strip the world of everything beautiful, magnificent, unique, artistic, and distinctive, to create a society of conformity and nothingness, and to trample on anyone who does not share the majority view. Do these individuals think that all food should be required to undergo a process that removes its taste and texture and turns it into gruel? Do they think that Walt Disney World should be razed so that the land can be turned into a giant parking lot? Do they think that all clothing should be banned and people required to spend their entire lives naked? I believe that these things are analogous to removing Confederate statues, and equally senseless and wrong.

Northam called the ruling “one step closer to a more inclusive, equitable, and honest Virginia,” and Attorney General Mark Herring described it as “one step closer to finally bringing down this relic of our racist past and moving forward as a diverse, inclusive, welcoming community.” Nothing could be further from the truth than these statements. First of all, the statue is not racist. Second, condemning and erasing all historical figures not deemed to be perfect according to the prevailing norms of 2020 is the exact opposite of inclusion and diversity. And third, completely disregarding the preferences of those who admire and cherish this statue is the exact opposite of being equitable. 

1890 Lee statue unveiling.jpg
Unveiling of the Robert E. Lee statue, May 29, 1890

The statue of Robert E. Lee that all these bullies find so horrible and offensive was sculpted in France by acclaimed artist Antonin Mercie, who was known as the “unrivaled master of the chisel.” It was commissioned in 1876 by the Lee Monument Association and was based on a painting by German-American artist Adalbert Vlock. Several bronze pieces were cast separately before being assembled. The completed statue was exhibited in Paris and then shipped to Richmond, where 10,000 people helped to pull it to its final location: a traffic circle at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Allen Avenue. The statue was finally unveiled on May 29, 1890. In 2007, the statue was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The figure of Lee stands 14 feet tall, and the entire statue, including the horse and the base, is 60 feet tall. Interestingly, the horse does not represent Lee’s faithful steed, Traveller, but instead is a generic horse with “ideal” proportions. 

How could someone think that the city of Richmond, the state of Virginia, or the world would be improved by removing this statue? The actions of the governor, attorney general, and presiding judge, as well as all those who support the ruling, demonstrate a complete disregard for General Lee, those who honor his memory, the artist and sculptor of the statue, and all those who worked to create it and bring it to Richmond. 

There is a tiny shred of good news, however: the judge stayed the ruling pending appeal. This means that Lee will remain standing until the plaintiffs’ appeal is heard, which will happen at some point next year. With Virginia’s gubernatorial election happening next November, there is a chance that the statue will remain in place until there is a new governor, who might possibly allow it to stay.

bookmark_borderWhat part of “preserved and protected for all time” do you not understand?

As I wrote about earlier, during this summer of political correctness run amok, the beautiful Confederate carving at Stone Mountain has become a target of anti-Confederate intolerance. Now, a group of politically-correct, intolerant people have formed an organization called the Stone Mountain Action Coalition and have presented their demands to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, the group in charge of maintaining the mountain and its surrounding park.

For those who have never seen Stone Mountain, it is a huge mountain near Atlanta, Georgia with an enormous image of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved into the side for all to see. Near the base of the mountain are various statues, flags, and plaques honoring people from each of the 13 states of the Confederacy. Stone Mountain is, in my opinion, a truly unique, amazing, and awe-inspiring sight.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Stone Mountain Action Coalition is demanding that the carving no longer be maintained, that the nearby Confederate flags be removed, that Confederate-related names of streets and buildings in the park be replaced, and that the park focus on themes such as “nature, racial reconciliation and justice.”

One of the co-chairs of the coalition, Ryan Gravel, said, “We don’t believe that taking a piecemeal, token kind of approach to adding little trinkets here and there is going to be good enough to really resolve the history of the mountain and the way that people see it.” Meymoona Freeman, another co-chair, said, “It’s time for transformation, it’s time for healing, and it’s time for progress.” Other members of the coalition stressed the need to make the park “more welcoming.” 

But what exactly needs to be “resolved” about Stone Mountain? The carving is an incredible feat of engineering and art honoring three historical leaders. The fact that some people dislike those historical leaders, and by extension the carving, is not a problem that needs to be solved. Every single thing in the world has people who like it and people who do not like it. No one has the right to demand that everything they do not like be obliterated from the world, particularly when the thing in question is a unique, magnificent, and beautiful landmark that took years of creativity, craftsmanship, and hard work to create. There is nothing hateful or racist about honoring the Confederacy and its leaders. As the Confederate point of view falls further out of favor among the mainstream media, political establishment, and society as a whole, it is even more important that sites like Stone Mountain be preserved. Even if the carving is not actually removed, to cease maintaining it and to get rid of the Confederate flags and street names would be to strip the park of its uniqueness and identity. It would be to make Stone Mountain, and the world, a more bland, homogenous, and character-less place. For those who admire the Confederacy and enjoy this memorial park, getting rid of the Confederate features would be the exact opposite of healing, the exact opposite of progress, and the exact opposite of making the park more welcoming. And to actually destroy the carving would be so unfathomably awful that it hurts to even consider the possibility. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked several geologists for their thoughts on how such a thing could be achieved. Their ideas, which involve explosives, disfigurement, years of dangerous work, and millions of dollars, are sickening when one considers that these measures would be employed with the goal of destroying a priceless work of art.)

The reason the Stone Mountain Action Coalition is not demanding removal outright is that Georgia law currently protects the Confederate memorial carving. This law was enacted as part of a compromise in 2001 when the state legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Georgia state flag. The law reads: “The memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed, or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.” The fact that some people are even mentioning the possibility of changing this law demonstrates the intolerance of the politically-correct crowd. What part of “preserved and protected for all time” do they not understand? First, Georgia’s flag was changed, with the assurance that Stone Mountain would remain. Less than 20 years later, those who seek to destroy Confederate history have broken their promise and are trying to get rid of Stone Mountain as well. Attempts at compromise have done nothing to stop the inexorable progression towards a complete erasure of Confederate heritage. There can be no compromise, there can be no moderation, and there can be no “pushing the limits” of the law by ceasing maintenance of the carving and hoping that nature and the elements gradually erode it. Stone Mountain must be preserved and protected for all time, just as the law says. And given that the anti-Confederate bullies have reneged on their part of the compromise, advocating for a return of the old state flag wouldn’t hurt either. 

bookmark_borderStone Mountain is next target for anti-Confederate bigots

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting Stone Mountain. If you have never heard of Stone Mountain (in which case you are really missing out!), it is a mountain in Georgia featuring a huge carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. According to Stone Mountain’s official website, the Confederate Memorial Carving measures 90 by 190 feet, is recessed 42 feet into the mountain, and is 400 feet above the ground, making it the largest high relief sculpture in the world. The idea for the carving originated with Helen Plane of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Construction began in 1923 but ran into funding problems and disagreements between artists, organizers, and the land owners. In 1958, the mountain and surrounding land were purchased by the state of Georgia. Walter Kirkland Hancock was chosen as the new sculptor, and work resumed on the stone carving in 1964. Using thermo-jet torches, workers labored to complete the likenesses of the three Confederate leaders and their horses. A dedication ceremony was held in 1970, and finishing touches were completed in 1972.

It is a truly amazing work of art, and seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.

So, naturally, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are demanding that it be destroyed.

On June 16, the local branch of the NAACP organized a protest against the Memorial Carving. The president of the NAACP branch, Teresa Hardy, said: “We’re going to Stone Mountain where all of the white supremacy, racial bigotry, all of that is hidden in that mountain, so why not march there to let them know we’re not going to take it anymore.”

More recently, this past weekend, a large group of armed militia marched through Stone Mountain Park demanding the removal of the carving.

First of all, depictions of Confederate leaders are not the same thing as white supremacy or racial bigotry. But more importantly, what does Hardy mean by “we’re not going to take it anymore?” What, exactly, is her organization not going to take? The existence of a magnificent, amazing work of art? The fact that people who cherish the Confederacy have a beautiful memorial to visit? The fact that the brave heroes who fought for the Confederacy get to be remembered and honored by those who admire them? This choice of words implies that Stone Mountain’s existence causes pain or suffering somehow. But this is simply false. For anyone who has a soul, Stone Mountain and its Memorial Carving bring tremendous joy and awe, just as all beautiful works of art do. The carving’s existence inherently makes the world a better place. How a person could dislike Stone Mountain is incomprehensible to me. But if this is the case for you, then simply don’t go there! Problem solved.

What makes supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement think that they have the right to order the destruction of anything in the world that they do not like? They are not the only people in the world; other people’s wishes and preferences matter, too. Has anyone considered the feelings of people who love Stone Mountain and would be deprived of a unique and wonderful place to enjoy nature and history? Has anyone considered the decades of painstaking work that artists, designers, carvers, and other craftsmen put into this work of art? Has anyone considered the feelings of people who admire the Confederacy and would be deprived of this beautiful and moving memorial? Has anyone considered the thousands of people who died fighting for the South’s independence, and the possibility that they deserve to be remembered and honored?

It’s almost as if this movement is determined to obliterate every beautiful, magnificent, glorious, unique, different, interesting, cool, and good thing from the world. It’s as if they are striving to create as bland, homogeneous, mundane, and conformist a society as possible, a place where all cities and towns are the same and all people are alike. In short, they seem to be determined to make the world as bad a place as they possibly can. I can think of no other reason why someone would want Stone Mountain’s carving to be destroyed. There are no words in the English language that can fully capture how strongly opposed I am to this idea.

Fortunately, Georgia law protects the Memorial Carving, meaning that the law would need to be changed in order for it to be destroyed. Hopefully this never, ever happens, because the world would be immeasurably worse for it.

The author at Stone Mountain

bookmark_borderPelosi’s bigoted effort to remove Confederate statues

As part of the nationwide trend to get rid of everything that has anything to do with the Confederate States of America, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding that 11 statues in the Capitol building be removed.

In a letter to the Architect of the Capitol and the Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, Pelosi wrote:

The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation. Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to those ideals. These statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed. While I believe it is imperative that we never forget out history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country.

The statues that Pelosi is criticizing are part of Statuary Hall, a chamber in the Capitol that displays 100 statues of historical figures, two from each state. The list is as follows: Jefferson Davis (Mississippi), James Zachariah George (Mississippi), Wade Hampton (S. Carolina), John E. Kenna (W. Virginia), Robert E. Lee (Virginia), Uriah Milton Rose (Arkansas), Edmund Kirby Smith (Florida), Alexander Stephens (Georgia), Zebulon Vance (N. Carolina) Joseph Wheeler (Alabama), and Edward White (Louisiana). More details about these individuals can be found here. In her letter, Pelosi also made a point of mentioning that Davis and Stephens were charged with treason against the United States.

By demanding the removal of these statues, Pelosi is the true bigot in this situation.

First of all, contrary to Pelosi’s claims, Confederate statues do embody the highest American ideals. The Confederacy fought for the right to secede from the Unites States and establish itself as an independent nation. Resistance to government authority is the ideal that America was founded upon; arguably the Confederacy and not the Union is the true heir to the philosophy of the American Revolution. Even if you believe that the existence of slavery in the Confederacy outweighs this, and therefore do not admire the Confederacy, that does not give you the right to demand that Confederate statues be removed. The rights of those who admire the Confederacy need to be respected, because in addition to resistance to government authority, diversity is also one of the highest American ideals. And a key part of diversity is ideological diversity.

The whole point of Statuary Hall is to showcase a diverse collection of statues representing all 50 states. I have not seen Statuary Hall in person, but when looking at photos of it, I am struck by the variations among the statues. Not only are they physically different, made of a variety of different materials, but they represent a wide range of historical figures from different time periods, backgrounds, and walks of life. They represent historical figures with a wide range of viewpoints, beliefs, and ideologies. But Pelosi is essentially saying that only historical figures with mainstream, moderate, politically correct views deserve to be honored. In other words, only those historical figures who conform to what happen to be the prevailing beliefs in 2020 deserve to be celebrated.

Contrary to Pelosi’s claim, Confederate statues do represent heritage. The fact that Pelosi does not share or value this heritage does not change this.

To call the inclusion of 11 statues of Confederate-leaning historical figures among a collection of 100 a “grotesque affront” to American ideals is, ironically, the ultimate in intolerance and bigotry. And to pointedly mention that two of the statues’ subjects were charged with treason is the ultimate in authoritarianism. It is Pelosi who is being cruel, barbaric, and hateful by declaring that there is “no room for celebrating” those who fought bravely on the losing side of a war. Demanding the removal of Confederate statues is the action of a bully with no tolerance for any views or values that differ from hers. A homogeneous collection of statues representing mainstream ideologies is the exact opposite of what America as a nation should aspire towards. But that is exactly what Pelosi is advocating. This type of mindless conformism is truly a grotesque affront to American ideals.

bookmark_borderNew Virginia laws are the opposite of diversity and inclusion

Last month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed new laws giving cities and towns the power to remove Confederate monuments and beginning the process of replacing the statue of Robert E. Lee in the U.S. Capitol.

“These laws make Virginia more equitable, just, and inclusive,” he said. “These monuments tell a particular version of history that doesn’t include everyone. In Virginia, that version of history has been given prominence and authority for far too long.”

State Senator Mamie Locke, who sponsored the bill to let cities remove monuments, voiced similar sentiments: “Virginia’s Confederate monuments were erected as symbols of a dangerous Jim Crow era. It is past time we told a more complete story of our history and work to build a Commonwealth that values everyone – no matter who you are.”

Delegate Delores McQuinn, who sponsored the House version of the bill, said, “Today marks an important step towards a more equitable and welcoming Commonwealth. Virginia’s history is difficult and complex, and it is important that we tell the full and true story of our past 400 years. These new laws will make our Commonwealth better.”

And Dr. Janice Underwood, the state’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, said “For more than 400 years, we’ve consciously oppressed and celebrated painful parts of Virginia’s past at the expense of those who are haunted by it the most. With these laws we are charting a new path for our Commonwealth – one that begins to tell a more complete story of who we are and honors our diversity as our greatest strength.”

The truth, however, is the exact opposite. The sentiments voiced by these politicians completely ignore the fact that those who admire Confederate leaders are also people, and their views and preferences also matter. Getting rid of Confederate monuments completely disregards the views of those who enjoy these statues and admire the soldiers and leaders whom the statues represent.

There are numerous legitimate reasons to admire Confederate leaders – their bravery, their sense of honor, their military skill, their loyalty to their home states, and the fact that they fought against a powerful federal government, just to name a few. The Confederacy was not merely about slavery, and the statues are not symbols of racism. They are symbols of people from history, who have both positive and negative attributes just like all people do. Lots of people don’t like the Confederacy or its leaders, and that’s fine. They have every right to lobby for the creation of statues of historical figures they do admire. They do not, however, have a right to lobby for the removal of statues they do not like. That is not fair to the people who like these statues and the historical figures they represent.

Unfortunately, the viewpoint that the Confederacy and everyone associated with it was bad, is the popular, politically correct viewpoint today. That does not make it right. To get rid of Confederate statues is to state that the popular, politically correct viewpoint is the only legitimate viewpoint there is. This completely excludes anyone with dissenting views. This is the exact opposite of making Virginia more equitable, just, welcoming, and inclusive. It is the opposite of diversity. It is the opposite of valuing everyone. In short, these laws allowing the removal of Confederate statues do the opposite of what the politicians who sponsored and signed the laws claim. They make Virginia, and America, a worse and less tolerant place.