Thursday, September 09, 2021

Take Them Down

Responding to a plea by Democratic governor Ralph Northam in the summer of 2020

A crowd erupted in cheers and song Wednesday as work crews hoisted an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee off the pedestal where it has towered over Virginia’s capital city for more than a century.

One of America’s largest monuments to the Confederacy, the equestrian statue was lowered to the ground just before 9 a.m., after a construction worker who strapped harnesses around Lee and his horse lifted his arms in the air and counted, “Three, two, one!” to jubilant shouts from a crowd of hundreds. A work crew then began cutting it into pieces....

Some chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!" and sang, “Hey hey hey, goodbye.” One man with a Black Lives Matter flag was escorted out by police after running into the fenced-off work area. No arrests were reported, and there was no sign of a counter protest.

Say what you wish about the right wing- and there is much negative to be said- it generally has its priorities in order, recognizing what is, and is not, important.

Removal of the statue reflects positively on the state of Virginia. But it is a relatively insignificant action because it reflects on, and affects only, one state and its residents.  At roughly the same time that Northam first raised the issue in his own state, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill

that would remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol as well as a bust of the former Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied enslaved people the right to be citizens.

"This sacred space, this temple of democracy has been defiled for too long. We ought not to forget history. We must learn from history. But we ought not to honor that which defiles the principles for which we ... stand," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor before the vote. "It's time to remove those symbols of slavery, segregation and sedition from these halls."

The bill passed by a vote of 285 to 120. Every Democrat present and 67 Republicans voted for it. The bill heads to the Senate for consideration, where it would need 10 Republican senators to join every Democrat to pass the upper chamber.

Democrats in the Senate soon afterward introduced their own bill to remove the statues but it has not been voted upon by the upper chamber.

The State of Virginia has removed an important symbol of treason and slavery from its prominent place.  A blight has been removed from the capital of the Confederacy.

Meanwhile, similar statues remain in the United States Capitol, which is the seat of the government of the most powerful nation in the world. There, though donated by individual states, they represent the people of the United States of America, you and me and over 300 million other Americans.

They've done the right thing in the heart of the Confederacy. In the seat of democratic government of the entire nation, fifteen(15) statues honoring slavery and treason remain.

In the 2016 election, many conservatives had their eye on the US Supreme Court when they came out to vote for Donald Trump and were rewarded with three appointments to the High Court. Many liberals and progressives voted for Democrats down ballot while declining to cast a vote for President.  Democrats emphasize the presidency to the exclusion of various other important contests, in the US House, the US Senate, and state legislatures. Republicans make no such mistake.

In Richmond on Wednesday, "there was no sign of a counter protest." Nor should there have been- not only because the Lee statue needed to come down but, in the larger scope of things, its removal is of only passing significance.

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