Confederate Statues; History or Hate

Emily

“The Sac and Fox culture is based upon respect for the life within themselves, their families, their communities, and all of creation. The Creator gave this way of life to the Sac and Fox people. The culture is the way things are done in relation to each other and all of creation. The Sac and Fox way of life is spiritually-based. They seek the guidance of the Creator in how to live. The oldest continuing religious practices are ceremonies like clan feasts, namings, adoptions, and burials. More recent religious practices include the Drum Dance, the Native American Church and Christianity.”  (from the Sac and Fox Nation website.)

The early religious beliefs of the Sac and Fox Nation sound much like Buddhism and like the seven principles of the Unitarian/Universalist Church. 

 

I’m conflicted about the confederate statues, and it has nothing to do with honoring my confederate ancestors.  My wife’s cousin who has was an Army brat but has lived most of her adult life in New Orleans and surrounding towns feels the same.  I haven’t talked with her extensively, but I think, although her father was career military and “gung ho” as you can get, and because she is conservative about a lot things, our reasons are similar.  We are destroying history.

General Andrew Jackson

Jackson Park in front of St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

The Taliban leaders who blew up the giant statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan and the young French soldier who blew the nose off of the Sphinx acted out of completely different principles, but the result was the same; they desecrated enormous works of art and historical records of previous cultures and beliefs.

Two movies have been made about enormously talented athletes who were honored at the time of their winning Olympic gold and then ignored and made to return to their lives as second class Americans.

Last night we watched the movie, “Race”, about Jesse Owens who won four gold medals in the 1936 summer Olympic games and Owens experiences at Ohio State and the Olympics.  I watched the movie, “Jim Thorpe” years ago which was about the Sac and Fox indian who competed and won medals in the 1912 Summer Olympics.

Both movies detail the run-up to the games, but don’t dwell much on later years as both men struggled to learn how to live again as second class citizens.

Jesse Owens was a track and field star.  He set records for the 100 meter dash and the broad jump, that weren't broken for decades.

Jim Thorpe, by all accounts, may have been the most talented athlete of the first half of the 20th century.  He competed in everything including basketball, baseball and football and played semi-professional baseball and professional football in what would become the NFL.  He died of alcoholism.

I’m glad both of those movies were made.  Otherwise, many Americans would have never known that some of our greatest heroes were members of minorities.

Returning to the statues; I think they should have been preserved with plaques describing their parts in American history.  If you have ever been to Jackson Park in New Orleans, you will know that there is an enormous statue of Andrew Jackson.  Jackson, contrary to the impression of the 45th president of the United States, was not in the civil war. 

Jackson presided over a systematic land grab and decimation of a number of Indian tribes. (I understand that Indians, once pejoratively called “Injuns”, prefer to be called Indians again, or to be referred to by their tribal name rather than Native Americans.)  It’s their choice.  I think that visitors to Jackson Park ought to be able to read about Jackson’s entire history, good and bad.

My parents were from Oklahoma, and I was born there.  I was raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas, established as a fort before there was an Oklahoma.  Originally built in 1817 the fort was occupied by a small troop of “rifle regulars”, was never visited by the general Smith for which it was named, and was closed a few years later.  The fort was again activated during the resettlement of the Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, many of whom settled in Fort Smith and the nearby town of Van Buren, Arkansas.   As a grade schooler I learned about the “five civilized tribes”; Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole.  No one mentioned the Sac and Fox except to talk about Jim Thorpe.

General Jackson’s name didn’t come up much when I was young.  We were more interested in the much later period of the 1880s when court was held by Judge Isaac Parker who tried the likes of Belle Starr, Cherokee Bill and other outlaws who fled into the nearby Indian Territory and were brought back by U.S. Marshalls.  We pretty much sided with the Indians, because many of the people in the area had Cherokee ancestors.  I went to high school with a brother and sister who were Choctaw.

A U.S. Marshall’s museum is being built in Fort Smith along with a huge statue of U.S. Marshall, Bass Reeves.  The museum is set to open in 2018.

I realize that there is something especially hateful about statues of Confederate Generals, and for many of the preservationists who claim to be interested in preserving history, the history that they want to remember is one of slavery and white entitlement.

I would hate to think that at some future date, sentiment would turn and some group would tear the statue of Bass Reeves down.

Views: 77

Comment by koshersalaami on May 20, 2017 at 6:12am

Good question. These are not religious statues but they are part of history.

But what would we think of enormous statues of Lenin or Saddam Hussein?

What would we think of enormous statues of Stalin or Hitler? Or Pol Pot? To Black people, that's kind of what we're looking at. 

As historical record, the statues tell us two things: What these guys did and who later venerated them. 

The next question becomes at what point we balance ongoing contributions with crimes, r perhaps atrocities is a better word for,that which was legal at the time. How do we treat statues of Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Columbus? The Confederate statues are easier because they have no ongoing contributions. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 20, 2017 at 6:12am

kosh, your comment is not here. I didn't delete it.

Comment by koshersalaami on May 20, 2017 at 6:37am

I deleted it to rewrite it. revised version above. 

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 20, 2017 at 7:00am

My take on the removal of those statues is that they should be preserved and exhibited in a Museum of Confederate History where the entire history of the Civil War is presented in it's entirety, warts and all.  If there is some need for public art that memorializes the Civil War it shouldn't present politicians and generals.  Rather in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, "...from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

And if there must be a sculpture let it be on ground level and look something like this:

Comment by koshersalaami on May 20, 2017 at 7:22am

Moving the sculptures is an interesting idea. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on May 20, 2017 at 7:25am

excellent piece   still  i must ask what i asked in a post   when has any nation besides ours spent to much time, treasure, emotion, coddling a 150 year justly decimated illegal race-based rebellion against itself?

if racism itself were lo longer coddled here officially the monuments issue would be moot

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on May 20, 2017 at 8:09am

The statues themselves  in the very act of memorialisation, are tendentious...they say  that these acts and ideologies and the people who promoted them

worth preserving in cultural memory

and ought not be there absent an immediate accompanying permanent and visible authoritative condemnation. 

Comment by Ron Powell on May 20, 2017 at 8:21am

Nothing wrong with the memorialization of history, as long as the memorial is not predicated on myths or alternative facts.

Memorials telll a story. If the story isn't the truth about that which the memorial represents, it's not a memorial at all.

It's a political or social statement of one kind or another...

The ptoblem is that myths and alternative facts are too often used to justify the exoense of erecting a memorial...

Hence, the perpetration and perpetuation of untruths, faleshoods, and downright lies that must bechallenged, confronted, untaugh, and unlearned.

The result is controversy, conflict, and friction whuch generates a nagging uneasiness that many,  if not most, people have difficulty engaging and reconciling.

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 20, 2017 at 8:54am

Trump really is a symptom of AmeriKKKa, nothing more. This is a sick, sick, sick place different from others as it continues to claim honesty and truth and all that other Superman stuff from the Radio Days. There is a HUGE problem here. The whole Civil War herstory is total fabrication, nearly all lies. It is time to fess up- professional liars created a BS story, complete with an enormous volume of false text, curriculum completely lies based for over a hundred years in what are considered the finest schools in the world, and so on to a point where there is not a lot to say except the CONFEDERACY is alive and kicking, in fact they are in power right now.

Oklahoma is really something, I could go on and on and on, and must point out the Tulsa Massacre by WWI white airmen on Black Wall Street among so many many others, but, I am also by marriage related to some Miami, the only native peoples who managed to return to their homeland after banishment to Oklahoma. Believe me, my Great Uncle has some QUITE different stories to tell.

We live in and among one of the biggest scams ever pulled on anyone, anywhere, and I rarely even bother mentioning Hawaii, the place that allows the USA to control the Pacific, and thus the world.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 20, 2017 at 2:04pm

I understand that Putin thinks the Russia was scammed by Seward and wants Alaska back.  Of course, he's looking for the oil.  He would have to take Sarah Palin in the deal.  She really could see Russia from her window then.

@Maui Surfer ~ There is nothing pretty about the invasion of North America or the Hawaiian Islands by Europeans or any of the subsequent atrocities committed in the name of bringing a better religion or a better culture to the natives. I assume that there is still a lot of discrimination against the plains tribes.  It's been a long time, but I overheard a conversation in a motel in western Oklahoma by the proprietors who were  thinking of making an unused convention room into a restaurant / dance club.  Their dilemma was how to keep the Indians out.

I think John Wayne summarized the attitude best, not as a character in a movie but as himself.

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."

@Ron ~ You summarized the argument quite well.  That crystallizes the argument many have had that memorials erected decades after the civil war should be removed, and it is because those who erected them were not interested in commemorating history; they wanted to perpetuate and strengthen a myth.

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