Thursday, August 17, 2017

Welcome, But Late

The Washington Post reported

Crews quietly removed Baltimore’s Confederate monuments early Wednesday, days after deadly unrest in Charlottesville as white nationalists rallied to defend a statue in that city.

The sudden removal of four statues, without fanfare or advance notice, marks an attempt by Baltimore leaders to avoid a long, bruising conflict that has embroiled Charlottesville and other communities rethinking how they honor figures who fought to preserve slavery.

Photos and video on social media Wednesday morning showed crews using cranes to remove statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, then hauling them away on a flatbed truck. Statues honoring Confederate women and Roger B. Taney, the U.S. chief justice who authored the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, also were removed. 

A statue honoring confederate soldiers and sailors,defaced with bright red paint over the weekend, is also gone.

To be fair: this process began after the murder of nine blacks at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, when then-Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake appointed a commission which, according to the Post, "recommended the removal of the Lee-Jackson monument, with signs adding historical context to two other statutes."  Additionally, even after the events in Charlottesville last weekend, the former President of the Maryland division of the American Daughters of the Confederacy criticized the manner of removal as "an act of lawlessness in my mind.This is a public figure. This is the leader of a city. If you expect . . . your constituents to respect the law, you have to toe the line.”

But in the phrase of Bill Maher: "new rule"-  those of us who always have wanted statues celebrating heros of the Confederacy to be removed from the public square must be spared the lecture of individuals such as Delegate Cheryl Glenn of Baltimore, chairpeson of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. Glenn remarked

Baltimore is setting an example that others should follow. If this neo-Nazi movement is intent on exacting violence where we have these Confederate statues, then if you take the statues down,you reduce the potential for this kind of divisiveness.

Oh, please.  Maryland was neutral in the Civil War or, as homegrown Southerners would put it, the War Between the States; or as a few of us Yankees (most emphatically, not these Yankees) would might put it, the War Between the People of the USA and its Traitors. Wikipedia explains

Across the state, nearly 85,000 citizens signed up for the military, with most joining the Union Army. Approximately one third as many enlisted to fight for the Confederacy. The most prominent Maryland leaders and officers during the Civil War included Governor Thomas H. Hicks who, despite his early sympathies for the South, helped prevent the state from seceding, and Confederate General George H. Steuart, who was a noted brigade commander under Robert E. Lee.

Some 150+ years later, 63.2% of the population of the city is black, the fifth highest concentration in the nation.  Baltimore has some 400,000 residents who have a legitimate right to resent veneration of powerful individuals who wanted to keep their descendants enslaved. And it took until 2017- under the cover of darkness- to remove the monuments.

It's not entirely the city's fault, for the standard procedure (bypassed by the mayor) may have required her to gain approval from a state agency, the Maryland Historical Trust.

But it has taken too long. Too long for the city to remove, whether with or without state approval, endorsement of the Confederate States of America, which turned against the United States of America in order to continue enslavement of human beings.

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