Protesters at the University of North Carolina pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier on their campus. They did this in 2018. More than one hundred fifty years after the end of the Civil War. Silent Sam, a bronze figure set atop a stone pedestal back in 1913 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. That was some fifty years after the surrender at Appomattox.
The Confederates lost that one, by the way.
And yet, symbols of the Confederacy continue to dot the landscape of these United States. Which sort of makes sense, especially considering just how united we find ourselves at this point in history. What continues to amaze me is how commonplace these monuments are. If that place happens to be somewhere below the Mason-Dixon Line. Statues of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee have received a good deal of attention over the past few years, and many states have made an effort to shift the perspective of the war that once divided our nation. Can you guess which state leads the way in this abolition of anti-abolitionist symbols? Texas. A state that wasn't even a state during the Civil War comes in second in the number of monuments to commemorate the South. It makes sense that the Lone Star State is out in front, since they have the most cleaning up to do.
Did I mention that the South lost the war?
In Germany, the remnants of a Nazi past are mostly erased, with the exception of those sites that help them deal with the “the enduring confrontation with the past.” As Germans continue to deal with their colonial, Third Reich, and communist pasts, a frank discussion continues about how history landed them where they are now. But swastikas are not part of that plan.
This is because now is not the time for reenactment. Now is not the time to revel in the horror of what used to be. What is left is a reminder of how that horror came to be.
And most significantly, no one is suggesting that new statues be put up fifty years after the fact for fallen soldiers of the losing side. Five days after the Declaration of Independence was signed, a group of forty colonial soldiers roared into Manhattan, pulled down a statue of King George III, and it was subsequently melted down for musket balls. The British flag is flown over U.S. soil now primarily as a courtesy for diplomatic events or to decorate Mick Jagger's wiry frame on yet another farewell tour.
And isn't it strange how the Confederate flag seems to show up in tandem with that of Nazi Germany? Losers on parade. Check it out. It's history.