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Losing history

Posted on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 12:27 pm

The statue of Andrew Jackson still stands on Jackson Square in New Orleans despite recent protests to have it removed along with statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

How we can right the wrongs

Much attention is being given these days to the removal of things associated with the Civil War. The Confederate battle flag is being taken down, as are statues in various locales. Streets and boulevards are being considered for renaming. All this in the name of consideration for those oppressed during the time of slavery and those offended by the symbols today. Some is appropriate, but there is a danger of overreacting. In particular, the removal of the battle flag from the South Carolina capitol following the horrendous murder of the black church members by the young white supremacist was an appropriate gesture. Unfortunately, that flag doubtless conjures up racism and is perhaps one of the most universal icons of the war. While it is best not displayed in public, there is a place for it which I shall get to. In contrast to this particular icon is Ole Miss – the University of Mississippi Rebels. I recall many years ago when forced integration took place there as well as other southern schools. Ole Miss had its James Meredith and Alabama had Autherine Lucy. But look at southern schools now – fully integrated, absent of racial issues, sports teams replete with all races – success stories, I would submit. Back to the flag, I must admit that I do not know if it still flies throughout the stands at sports events at Ole Miss. I suspect it might not, but I am not sure.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Recently, the PBS Newshour ran a segment on the removal of certain statues in New Orleans, and one of the persons interviewed delivered an extremely thoughtful and appropriate comment. He was one of those in charge of the program for the removal. He said that the statue or icon or whatever should be considered in light of the purpose for its display. Andrew Jackson’s statue in New Orleans was not there as a figure of the Confederacy but rather as the hero of the battle of New Orleans. Appropriately then, it would remain while those clearly erected as figures of the War would be removed. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu was, I believe, the originator of that program, which has been greeted with more support than opposition. The statues that are removed will be housed in a yet to be named facility or museum. Perhaps this would also be an appropriate place for the battle flag.

Read more in this week’s edition of the Westmoreland News.