September 10. 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Four Fascinating Articles on the Monuments Question
And How We Memorialize Our History: Yoder, Washington & Lee, Samantha Willis, and Violence Advocates “Redneck Revolt”
[Given the fact that a powerful hurricane…Florence…is aiming its fury this way and that may mean the loss of power, flooding, wind damage, and other possible affects, today’s installment of MY CORNER may be the best last one until the situation hereabouts settles down. I am not certain when that will be, but I ask your patience, your understanding, and your prayers. As soon as feasible, the column will reappear. Boyd D. Cathey]
Today let me pass on four items (and excerpts of items) of interest which relate to the ongoing frenzied efforts to remove, topple, and/or bring down the monuments honoring Confederate veterans and Southern heritage. It should be evident to all those temporizing and cowardly politicians (who are deathly afraid of being labeled a “racist,” a “white supremacist,” or a “fascist”) that the targets of wrath are not just Confederate symbolism, but any and all symbols of what remains of our Western Christian and European culture. And that the fanatical social justice warriors—those unleashed lunatics—apparently will stop at nothing in their revolutionary mania.
During the events relating to the toppling of “Silent Same” on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a number of prominent writers offered contrasting views. I have previously passed on essays by Professor James “Bud” Robertson and journalist Rod Christensen. This morning the first item I send on is by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edwin Yoder. It’s short, but to the point and raises profound questions about historical memory and how we view our history, indeed, all our history.
The second item is a “Message from the President” of Washington & Lee University, declaring that a specially-appointed commission that he had appointed had, against the intense pressure of social justice warriors, decided to retain the name of the institution, “Washington & Lee University,” and names for the Lee Chapel and Lee House. Nevertheless, even this small victory for history and heritage will probably see an additional push for “interpretation” in the near future.
Then follows portions of an article by black writer, Samantha Willis, in the large circulation “women’s magazine,” Glamour, enunciating what many of us already knew: it is those awful and oppressive white males, those defenders of Western civilization, that is, “hate,” racism, and male oppression—it is all of their monuments and symbols that must be ground into dust or locked away in remote museums.
Lastly, some short excerpts from a site titled “Redneck Revolt,” a revolutionary Leftist group claiming to represent “poor people and oppressed communities,” but in fact, is organized by academics (including by a key supporter of radical violent action, Dwayne Dixon, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, see: https://bigleaguepolitics.com/silent-sam-destroyers-identified-as-the-antifa-leaders-from-charlottesville/ ). “Redneck Revolt” advocates open violence, trains its members in the use of high-powered firearms and the use of bombs and projectiles, which it intends to use. [See the descriptive photographs of its members armed with weapons on its Web site, at: https://www.redneckrevolt.org/principles] It has been very active both in Durham and Chapel Hill, and no doubt had a presence in provoking what occurred a year ago in Charlottesville. If anything, it is more violent and dangerous than the other radical cultural Marxist groups—the Communist Workers World Party, Antifa, and Black Lives Matter—and cooperates in tandem with them.
Here is the Yoder column:
Raleigh News & Observer
Silent Sam is gone. I didn’t expect to feel like this.
BY EDWIN M. YODER JR.
August 23, 2018 12:32 PM
Updated August 23, 2018 12:32 PM
Among the pictures on our living room wall hangs the framed photograph of an imposing obelisk in the square of a small Georgia town. It memorializes a great-grandfather who gave the land on which the village stands, and who, at the outbreak of Civil War, organized a fighting company and took it northward to join Gen. Robert E. Lee’s great Army of Northern Virginia. He claimed to resist “an unconstitutional invasion of my homeland.” There is no mention of slavery. He died in battle on the James River in August 1864.
A family tradition has it that a detachment of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s soldiers, marching across Georgia in the last year of that conflict, trooped down the breezeway of his desolate plantation house as my great-grandmother and their children sat at dinner, but inflicted no damage. I have often wondered if this forbearance was a gesture of chivalry to a fallen foe.
When I spoke of this Georgia ancestor and his times in a lecture at the Virginia Historical Society some years back, I cautioned that so far as I could tell, “the gist has little to do with racial pride [or] ... accord with the Confederate cause as it would have been understood ... For a remote descendant the satisfaction ... lies in a sense of rootedness ... a continuity with the history of a nation so largely shaped by conflict.” It will be understood, then, that when I spoke recently in defense of Silent Sam at the Chapel Hill public library and was challenged by a fiery-eyed listener who demanded, “Aren’t you ashamed of your views?” my answer was “No, not in the least.”
Yet such ancestral scenes may explain my unusually intense reaction to the desecration of Silent Sam. Silent Sam had seemed doomed in recent months as UNC administrators and trustees and the police dithered while the statue was vandalized. Still, it was hard to imagine that this fine work of sculptural art and memory would be surrendered to organized violence.
So what, if not ordinary nostalgia, accounts for the intensity of my reaction? It has nothing to do with race. Those who extenuate this lawless assault on emblems of the Southern past seem honestly to believe that it springs from the detestation of racism — a loathing I share. But for me, that seems too simple.
The 19th century historian Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote of the bitter aftermath of the English civil war: “One old Cavalier had seen half his manor house blown up. The hereditary elms of another had been hewn down. A third could never go into his parish church without being reminded by the defaced scutcheons and headless statues that Oliver [Cromwell’s] redcoats had stabled their horses there.” Such are the bitter memories of all civil wars, everywhere.
The U.S. has, until now, been relatively exempt from such memories. The lines inscribed on the Statue of Liberty read in part, “Give me ... the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Not a flattering welcome, but a useful clue. Much of the immigration to these shores is explained by a “yearning” to cut foreign ties and obligations and the itch to be emancipated from history itself.
I had the good fortune to grow up in a history-conscious household where historical realities were valued in their fullness and memorials retained a living presence. Certainly, that included Silent Sam, a remembrance of duty and self-sacrifice that I have known as an unoffending visual companion since boyhood. Perhaps that is why its mob destruction is like the severing of a limb. And it hurts.
Contributing columnist Edwin M. Yoder Jr. of Chapel Hill is a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.
From: "Rector J. Donald Childress" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: August 28, 2018 at 2:54:54 PM EDT
Subject: Board of Trustees' Response to the Report of the Commission on Institutional History and Community
Date: August 28, 2018 at 2:54:54 PM EDT
Subject: Board of Trustees' Response to the Report of the Commission on Institutional History and Community
It's Not Just Confederate Monuments—All Statues of Problematic Men Must Go
Samantha Willis August 12, 2018 2:41 PM
The death of Heather Heyer, the brutal beating of DeAndre Harris and the shatter of Marcus Martin's lower leg as he pushed then fiancée Marissa Blair from the path of James Alex Fields's Dodge Charger weren't enough to stop another white supremacist rally from taking place exactly a year after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On Sunday the world will watch as right-wing groups, white nationalists and neo-Nazis observe the anniversary of a deadly day in history—this time in Washington, D.C.—that marked a turning point in national dialogue about Confederate monuments and racism. The groups rallied on August 12, 2017, to protest Charlottesville City Council’s vote to take down a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which a 2016 petition demanded be removed from one of Charlottesville’s parks. That petition was written by Zyahna Bryant, a Charlottesville High School senior with serious eyes and a quick wit who sliced through the rapid rhythm of her words. Bryant was just 16 when she penned the petition, inspired after watching human rights activist and artist Bree Newsome snatch the Confederate flag from atop a pole on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in June 2015. “This flag comes down today!” Newsome shouted, clad in all black, dark brown dreads swinging beneath a helmet.
“It blew my mind,” says Bryant.
Many who are taking to the streets for the Unite the Right Rally 2 would argue that there's no harm in keeping these symbols. But when is a statue more than a statue? At this moment in America's present reality, we question: Are monuments to men who rebelled against their mother country to preserve the institution of slavery appropriate in public spaces? How can a flag marked with stars and bars be a visceral symbol of shame to some, and pride to others? Women—like Newsome and Bryant, of different ages and heritages and in every quadrant of the country—are galvanizing efforts to remove, contextualize, and understand these symbols of who we were to help us determine who we are. But for all that we lost in Charlottesville, we gained something else too; a seismic shift in public consciousness. Women are organizing to confront not just men of the Confederacy, but the problematic figures we've revered who used the tools of patriarchy and power to hurt women and people of color.
The message is clear. Women have had enough of bad men. And they aren't going to let them stand forever. [….]
Elsewhere in the country, women lead efforts to examine and contextualize statues of men other than Confederate soldiers but whose place in history are also hotly debated.
[….] Meanwhile, communities of indigenous people lead calls to rename holidays evoking the name of Christopher Columbus. Though he was indeed a remarkable navigator and explorer, Columbus also led violent campaigns of enslavement and ushered in centuries of abuse and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas by European forces. Indigenous Peoples Day now replaces Columbus Day in at least 55 cities nationwide. In January the city council of San Jose, California, voted to remove a statue of Columbus from its city hall lobby. Like all other dialogues concerning memorializing controversial historical figures, the decision to boot Columbus from city hall was not an easy one, says council member Sylvia Arenas.
“We went through a process about the statue,” says Arenas, citing the concerns of the city’s Italian American community, which contested removing the statue, believing the action was an affront to their heritage. (Columbus was Italian.)
“It's not in opposition of Italian Americans, or to negate the contributions of Italian Americans,” says Arenas. ”It's really about being inclusive of indigenous communities, and the contributions that they have made.”
Arenas, who says her heritage is Mexican, rarely saw her ancestors’ contributions to history reflected in common historical narratives. It was part of the reason she voted yes to the Columbus statue’s dismissal from city hall.
“As a woman of color, to be able to contribute to this decision of where the statue goes, it gives me the opportunity to correct that narrative about indigenous people here, and to create a new narrative about who we are as Californians and as people…. Everybody wants to find their community's place in history.”
But even on the backdrop of a deadly Charlottesville day, it's still difficult to convince protectors of these symbols otherwise.
And there's proof that the resolve to keep statues standing is strong, particularly of the Confederate type. Last month the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that 113 Confederate monuments and symbols have been removed from public spaces in various states and cities since 2015, while another 1,740 still stand and more monuments are cropping up. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a women’s group which contributed to the creation of an estimated 450 monuments and commemoratives since its 1894 founding, continues its mission to “protect and preserve” Confederate symbols. When the San Antonio city council voted to remove a Confederate monument from one of the city’s parks last year, the local UDC chapter, one of the group’s chapters in 33 states, sued the city.
Debates about historically and socially significant symbols will likely keep rolling through the country. Whether the monuments and flags stay up or come down, whether we rename roads and schools to reflect standards of our time instead of the past, it’s clear that women enrich this national dialogue. By sharing their diverse perspectives gleaned from a range of identities and life experiences, women play a critical role in contextualizing the ideals and people in American history that we choose to memorialize—and those that we won’t.
Samantha Willis is a freelance journalist and cocreator of the #UnmaskingCville and #UnmaskingRVA series, based in Virginia. You can follow her on Twitter @WordsByWillis.
And some passages from “Redneck Revolt” [See: https://www.redneckrevolt.org/principles]
“We are not pacifists. Redneck Revolt believes in using any and all means at our disposal to gain our freedom and true liberty, provided those methods do not violate our basic humanity or integrity. We believe in the inherit right of every individual and community to defend themselves from those who exploit or oppress them….Redneck Revolt believes that there will have to be a complete restructuring of society to provide for the survival and liberty of all people.”
The question that should be immediately raised is this: Why haven’t the FBI and other monitors of violence gotten involved here? And where is the NC State Bureau of Investigation and the public condemnation by Governor Roy Cooper? And, finally, why is UNC-Chapel Hill hiring such advocates of violence to teach in its faculty and manipulate the thinking of its students?
We should demand answers!