Fast and Furious

by Fred Ray on August 17, 2017 · 1 comment

Things have been happening so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up with it all. By now everyone will have heard of the events in Charlottesville, VA, where one person died in a riot (and two more in a helicopter crash). The immediate cause was a protest march by far right groups over the removal of a statue of General Lee. The protesters were from all accounts outnumbered by counter-protesters, many from the Far Left. Both sides came armed to the teeth and ready for a rumble, which they got, and the police (who normally keep groups like this apart) were nowhere to be seen. After scattered clashes the march was declared illegal, after which the cops actually funneled to protesters toward their opponents, and that’s when the fun began. A serious riot broke out, culminating with one of the protesters driving a car into the counter-protestors, killing one woman and injuring 19 more.

You can almost hear General Lee saying “not in my name.”

I don’t intend to cover all that’s been written about it (an impossible task), but it has also set off another wave of Confederate statue removals.

Confederate statues came down in Baltimore (in the dead of night, like New Orleans), and Gainesville, FL. Vandals pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier (not a general or political leader) in Durham, NC (more about this later). The Alabama AG has sued the city of Birmingham, AL for covering up the base of a Confederate memorial.

There have been calls by black lawmakers for removal of Confederate memorials in the US Capitol, and not even the dead are safe. Protesters actually began digging up Nathan Bedford Forest and have threatened to bring in earth-moving equipment if he’s not removed. And this is someone they don’t even have to look at. It reminds you of the mobs who ripped the bodies of the French kings out of their tombs during the revolution, one of whose head has just been found, or the restored British king posthumously beheading Oliver Cromwell. In Hollywood, CA, threats forced the removal of a Confederate memorial there.

Here and there there are glimmers of sanity. the Navy has (so far) refused to rename its ship Chancellorsville, and a group of African-Americans has come out publicly in Dallas to say the statues there should stay.

However, as I predicted, the Confederates are just a warmup. In Chicago there are calls for removal of Jackson and Washington because they were slave owners, and the removal of a statue of Theodore Roosevelt in New York (and a renaming of Columbus Day).

And just to keep the pot stirred, the group Anonymous has promised to attack Confederate statues at 11 sites tomorrow. Mob rule, anyone?

I am beginning to think that Nassim Nicholas Taleb is right—the most intolerant win.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Richard McBee August 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

Fred’s dedication to the history of the Civil War is commendable. This is not a site where political debate generally infests the writing, but instead a summary of what happened based on Fred’s best research into the facts of battles and military groups operating at the time of the actual Civil War. It is unfortuate that we in one day have jumped to the conclusion that our history is something to eradicate. The Taliban does the same with Buddhist monuments that are thousands of years old in Afganistan. ISSIS destroys museums and monuments which again tell us what happened during much of the tumultuous history of the middle east. If we place explanatory markers at the statues, note by Robert E. Lee saying that he would just as soon not dredge up the war at the time when Jim Crow advocates were putting up his statue, then people will understand that historic persons can become iconic for groups that did not bear the cost, nor understand the reasons why that figure acted the way they did. There are better ways of discussing and teaching about history than to remove it.

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