Henry Kidd, who identified himself as a former national officer of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, objected to adding context.
“Every tourist who comes to Richmond wants to see Monument Avenue; they don’t want to see a politically correct Monument Avenue.” Kidd said.
– Richmond Times-Dispatch, dated August 10, 2017
I will give Levar Stoney’s credit for appointing the Monument Avenue Commission to determine the fate of Lost Cause monuments that adorned Richmond’s Monument Avenue. His hopes of avoiding the hurt feeling seen in New Orleans and Charlottesville, while noble are I am afraid are unrealistic. Fortunately, his favored approach of providing context will probably satisfy a majority of Richmonders. Unfortunately, those opposed to it will continue to bay at the moon long after any decision is made.
Since I have already stated my case once I won’t rehash my previous arguments, rather I want address the notion of a “political correct Monument Avenue.”
In recent years it has become fashionable by those who object to interpretations of history that differ from their own to holler, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Of course this is a means of them not having defend their position rather, to put those who with differing positions on the defensive.
I think it is appropriate for me to address whether this is “Political Correctness” or, is it a more comprehensive and inclusive view of history.
Normally history is written by the victors. In the case of the American Civil War (or as those who wish to maintain the status quo would refer to it as “The War of Northern Aggression”) it was written by those who lost.
Now one could argue we should not lay the blame on the South, and I will buy that to a point. The real culprit, get ready for this as this will send many over the edge, was capitalism. The North got interested in making money and the dawn of the American Industrial Empire. The North was too busy making money to pay attention to what their poor cousins down South were doing.
The Southern demigods, arrayed along the length of Monument Avenue, were long dead when their Statues of Southern Glory were erected. Lee, Jackson and Maury laid entombed in their respective graves in Lexington; Stuart in Hollywood Cemetery, and initially Davis in Mississippi but soon returned to lie also in the Holy City (Richmond please bow) and Hollywood Cemetery. They had no say in whether statues should be erected in their honor. While they were dead, their images and persona were important to the myth of the “Lost Cause” and the restoration of White, Bourbon Democrat (of the Jefferson-Jackson variety) rule of Virginia and the South.
It is not mere consequences that the erection of these Statues coincides with the disenfranchisement of African-American from enjoying the basic rights of citizenship granted them by the Fourteenth Amendment. This was all about restoring white rule to the South. It was all about changing the narrative of the Civil War from one of Treason and Rebellion, to the Second War of American Independence.
Do not be buffalo by those who cry, “Political Correctness.” Their desire is not what really happened, but the myth of the Lost Cause. Their desire is not reconciliation but division, their desire is to continue to treat African-Americans as second class citizens not worthy to darken the vestibules of white society. When they decry context, they decry to truth.
I am a Southerner by birth, by heritage, by temperament; but my South is both that of Robert E. Lee and what he did as President of Washington College and what Martin Luther King did to guarantee the Civil Rights of all Americans. My South is not white, nor black, it is the multi-cultural rainbow of America. It is the City upon the Hill, the beacon of liberty, justice, and freedom for all; regardless of race, class, religion, or ethnicity. The Civil War was but four years in our history, to treat it and the leaders who line Monument Avenue as demigods is no only wrong but ignores great swaths of our nation’s history. Context is not political-correctness it is about the history of this nation and its people.
I feel sorry for those who do not understand this. I pray, fervently, that some day their eyes will be open. I wish them no ill will, rather I wish them the ability to understand, be civil, and change.
As a young kid I thought that the sun rose and set on Lee and Jackson. The history I learned in 4th Grade and 7th Grade gave but one view, that of the Lost Cause. I now know, and over the years I have changed my views. I am sixty-three; if I can change so can many others.