Robert E. Lee Monument
Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
Sept. 16, 2017
So much of what you say below strikes a strident chord. I have long been offended by those vociferous few who protest loudly on behalf of groups of "offended" people who, themselves are not actually offended or concerned greatly about the object of protest. Statues of history are remembrance of times as they were. Virtually every aspect of life as it was in the past could be held to account by present day standards. Even religious orders all have their dreadful aspects of times gone by. Who advocates tearing down religious statues because of what was done in their name (ISIS comes to mind.) Today I was appalled to see in the Daily Telegraph a photograph of the stature of Robert E. Lee and his accompanying soldier being dragged along the Dallas highway behind a truck en-route to obscurity. Forgive the growls of a dinosaur, but I am sad at where we are going.
Sept. 11, 2017
As most people know there is currently a small group of very loud far left wing protesters, aided by left wing politicians and the left wing media, to have Confederate memorials removed from locations all over the United States. The Robert E. Lee Monument and the Confederate Memorial in Dallas, Texas are among those under attack. I have visited both sites in the past weeks and talked to many people about this subject in the hope of gaining a better understanding of the subject.
First I would like to say that I was raised in northern Indiana, not in the south, so perhaps I have a different perspective on Confederate memorials than most of my fellow southerners. When I moved here 30 years ago and came across a Confederate memorial my first thought was, that is peculiar. Why is there a memorial for the losing side? The side that was on the wrong side of history, the side that supported slavery. Of course the War between the States was not ALL about slavery, but slavery WAS a large part of the argument between the north and the south. Anyone who says that the war was not about slavery it misleading you just as much as anyone who says the war was only about slavery. There were many other political and economic reasons for the war, far too many to go into here as I want to focus on the current situation.
Second, I would like to say that I am a Liberty person, I believe in Liberty and Justice for ALL. However, it is hard to believe in real Liberty as this sometimes allows others to conduct themselves in a way that YOU don't agree with. This is where the Liberty problem comes into play. I want my Liberty, but if you are doing something I don't like then I may try to take some action to stop you. You must remember Liberty covers BOTH sides. This is a concept that is difficult for people to come to terms with. How many law suits have been filed because someone is doing something someone else doesn't like? They attempt to infringe on their Liberty. With that in mind I would like to add my perspective to the monument debate.
As I have said, I found it peculiar that there were memorials to Confederates, but after seeing memorials all around the world I have come to the following conclusion. People need somewhere to go to remember those lost in wars, no matter what country you live in. For instance, Germany has memorials to their war dead, the regular soldier or sailor who died in wartime. Japan also has such memorials to their war dead, the common man who fought for his country. Of course in World War II both Germany and Japan were the enemy of all that is good in the world. However, not all Germans or Japanese were necessarily ideologically inclined to the political decisions to go to war. They fought for the country they were born in. Not all Americans who fought in the war were all in for the cause either, but they fought for the country they were born in. So to have a memorial to war dead I think is something that is needed for those of us who lost relatives in the war.
There are however no monuments or memorials to the top Nazi leadership in Germany, no statue of Hitler or Göring, Hess, Himmler, Keitel or Dönitz. I don't know of any such memorials in Japan to Tojo or the other top Japanese leadership. (However just because I don't know about them, does not mean they don't exist as I have little knowledge of Japan proper. There are probably memorials to such people as Yamamoto for instance.) So to have a memorial to the regular soldier is one thing, to have one to honor the leadership is quite another.
This is the problem in Dallas and the rest of the country. Many of these memorials (at least the ones I have seen presented on the news) seem to be memorials only to the leadership with only a small mention of the soldier or sailor. Please understand that I am not equating Jefferson Davis or General Lee to Hitler or Hirohito, the only comparison between them is that they were all part of the leadership of an enemy force.
One important question that has not been asked or answered is what was the motivation for constructing these memorials? While most of them were built in the late 19th century and early 20th century, some were built as late as the 1930's. In my opinion, and this is just an opinion, most of these memorials were not built with malice toward black Americans, but were built to honor the southern warriors. However malice toward black Americans as part of the decision process can not be ruled out. One must think of the time and the mind set of those who built such memorials. They were from a far different time than we now live in.
Should we as a nation have memorials to the leadership of an enemy force? I guess I would have to say maybe we should not. These men divided a nation, much like many today who seek to divide us against each other for their own political gain. However the Confederacy was not their entire lives, General Lee served in the U.S. Army for 32 years before the War Between the States caused him to choose a side. And when he did it was not because he believed in the "cause" of the south. All indications are that he actually did not and he thought it would be the destruction of the South. He joined the Confederacy because his home state of Virginia seceded from the Union and he would not take up the sword against his home state. He was a complex man, much like all men of power, but you must remember that he was a product of his time, like we are products of our time. Not all good and not all evil. You should read about him, he had many qualities to admire, but also many deep flaws which would not be tolerated today. He is a part of history and can not be changed.
Now to the point of whether these monuments should be removed. On one hand I agree some of them should be, if only because they serve as a reminder of a divided nation and the stain of state support of slavery. I can imagine that black Americans would be most effected by these memorials. However I was shocked to find that those black Americans who were at the Lee statue when I visited were not in favor of removing the monument. There was a group of us who had a very productive discussion for almost an hour. Included was a Jew, a black woman, two white men and myself. While we did not all agree about everything, the discussion was civil and enlightening. There were some good points and some bad ones, but at the end we all joined to pray for each other and our country.
I spoke to many other people in the few hours that I was there, including several other black Americans, none wanted it removed, not because they supported the Confederacy or even because of a reverence for General Lee. No it was because to them after all "it was just a statue." This of course can not be a representation of all public opinion. There were about 20 people at the monument, 10 of which were media. Therefore out of a population of 1.3 million people in Dallas, only 10 made their way to the monument. I don't know how many zeros one would need behind a decimal point to figure out the percentage this would make.
I would like to point out that this monument was donated to the City of Dallas and therefore belongs to the citizens of Dallas, not to a temporary mayor or temporary city council. These politicians who are so suddenly offended by the mere presence of these monuments which have stood for decades, some for over a century, do not own them and should not have the decision to remove them without the consent of the citizens. A couple dozen loud protesters do not represent the 1.3 million citizens of Dallas. If the citizens vote to have them removed than so be it, it is their right. But it is there decision, not that of a mayor pandering to a few loud voices.
It has been reported that it will cost over half a million dollars to remove just the Robert E. Lee monument, the Confederate Memorial downtown will cost much more to remove. So perhaps we could make use of the large sums of money in a better way and we can use these sites to heal the divide that exists in our society. While they were not built to bring people together, maybe we can use them to come together. We can use them as a reminder of what we once were and can look at each other to see what we have become and what we can become together. As Abraham Lincoln said "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South."
Thank God that we chose the path of the former rather than the latter. This is not to say that we don't have more work to do, we have further to go, but we must do it together.
(On this the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks we remember those who were lost and the families left behind. We as a nation have been divided about how to deal with the evil that rained death on us that day. We must come together as one nation, all races as one, believers and non believers to stand against such evil. For those who fight for the enemy support people far more evil than those of the Confederacy who were vanquished so long ago.)
Michael W. Pocock
The Robert E. Lee Monument seen on Sept. 8, 2017. Notice the barricades around the monument in advance of its removal. Also notice the lack of a large crowd (or even any crowd) either protesting or supporting the monument.
Dallas police were on site to keep people from damaging the monument, I am told they are there around the clock.
The real driver of this story, the media. There were as many members of the media as there were citizens at the monument that day.
The barricades at the back of the monument.
(All photos © 2017 Michael W. Pocock
and MaritimeQuest all rights reserved)
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Page published Sept. 10, 2017