America’s bloodiest war was fought over four years, between April 1861 and April 1865. You will hear justifications for that war, and those reasons will be offered by racists. The truth is that the Confederacy demanded their right to own slaves. If that right was removed, they would secede from the Union.
The men who made a choice to fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War were racists; period. Today they would be called “white supremacists;” believing that all whites are superior to all blacks, and had a right to do with them whatever they desired.
Statues honoring these racists continue to stand tall in some of our nation’s cities, and also in the Capitol building in Washington D.C. If you are white, you probably do not, or choose not to understand how their very existence supports the continuation of racism in America, and is an affront to all black Americans.
Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, and Senator Cory Booker introduced a measure which would remove all Confederate icons from our nation’s capitol.
Booker called keeping statues of Confederate figures in the Capitol a “painful, insulting, difficult injury.”
“The continued presence of these statues in the halls is an affront to African Americans and the ideals of our nation,” he added.
Schumer added that passing a bill to remove the statues would be one step toward confronting the “poison of racism.”
The two senators asked for unanimous consent, which would not require a vote. However, this tactic would also allow a single senator to prevent the measure from being implemented.
On Thursday, Republican Senator Roy Blunt, from the state of Missouri, blocked the bill.
“I’d like to … get the opinion of people who are taking similar statues out of the building. I’d also like to find out what other states have in mind as their part of this agreement,” Blunt said.
This is pure “politispeak.” Blunt is obviously unwilling to offend his white supremacist supporters.
For 100 years the number of lives lost in the Civil War was estimated at 620,000. The latest research claims that the actual losses were closer to 750,000. No other war in American history comes close to these figures. To put this in perspective, the second greatest loss of life in a war for the United States was WWII when 405,399 men and women were killed.
There is no glory in war. When a war erupts inside a single nation; when brothers are trying to kill each other; it is tragic. I find reenactments of Civil War battles offensive. There is nothing to celebrate about a war fought to save the Union because one side demanded their right to own other human beings.
However, it is important that it is never forgotten. History has a single purpose; to help us learn from our mistakes. If dictionaries were accurate the words “racism” and “ignorance” would be synonyms. Which requires a rhetorical question; “why would any man or woman be honored if that individual’s goal was to destroy our nation?” Not a single statue exists of Adolf Hitler, or Emperor Hirohito who had similar ambitions to Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
More importantly, for black Americans, Confederate leaders sought permanent imprisonment for their ancestors based on the color of their skin.
Trump’s silly red hats are an embarrassment to all informed Americans. “Make America Great Again” is a racist slogan. Is he referring to the time before the Civil War? Maybe he believes that America was ‘great’ in the mid-twentieth century when lynching of black men and women in the south was not only commonplace, they were celebrated.
Racism in America is why we have never been a ‘great’ country. I have read the Constitution multiple times and every time is like the first time. The words in our nation’s most sacred document are both profound, and hopeful. Unfortunately, far too many men and women in our nation who call themselves patriots pick and choose the parts of the Constitution they believe. Your current, illegitimate president would repeal the first amendment.
When every citizen of the United States cherishes and believes every word of the Constitution, America will become a great country.
Call, e-mail, or write your congressmen and tell them to remove these racist-based statues from our Capitol.
Op-ed by James Turnage
Image courtesy of Mark Theriot
My eight novels are available on Amazon’s free Kindle app