|Everything can be appropriate if its in a Museum, this exhibition of sex positions takes up a "12 and older" space at the Amsterdam Science Museum|
You can't blame the average white southerner, at first, they lived in the slave holding bubble, where everyone inside saw it as new and better form of European feudalism, where non-whites were the serfs, and all whites where free men with the slaveholders maintaining the balance of society like the lords of old. Of course anyone outside of the system could see it was a bunch of petty bourgeoisie using an antiquated system to corner the labor market in their sad little corner of the world, a system whose only redeeming quality is that it kept out new people and change. Then we had a war, the South lost, and in typical American style, we bungled the occupation. If we were to look at national conquests as sex acts, as I love to do, America is great at the conquest, but terrible at occupation, it comes in too hard, blows its load right as it is was starting to get some traction, leaving that biscuit buttered for whatever independence movement or foreign despot is attracted by the sounds of an unsatisfying struggle. The American South was/is, no different, and the old regime was back in power a decade or two after the wars end. The following 80 years of over the top, systemic, racism, without the economic benefits of slavery shows that, like Anti-Semitism in Europe, Class warfare in Russia, or Turkish Supremacy in Turkey, White on Black Racism in America is an ingrained problem, that if not actively confronted, revives, like the undead from a body shot.
Now, because it is an ingrained problem, and because the Civil War was the war that definitively decided it was a problem, that we should De-Confederacize, Slave holders should be airbrushed from official portraits, their successes should be attributed to more worthy Americans, their symbols burned in public bonfires as their descendants are paraded through town and forced to denounce their ancestors, fortunately based on other 20th century nations that have practiced those sort of cultural purges, we know those cures are as bad as the disease. So what do we do with a landscape that is dotted with positive reminders of a malignant and not quite dead way of life? You put it in a museum, away from the uneducated masses, squarely in its historical context, and where inappropriate veneration can be dealt with. Tearing down history, like the caldera created from mammoth WWI era artillery shell could become a trench to the enemy, or how rubble in WWII could be better defensive position than the building was, uprooting history creates mental images and ideas of opposition more poignant and more recent than what the historical memorabilia did, a child seeing angry out-of-towners tearing down the images of a legendary southern past seeds another generation of sectional conflict. On the other hand, removing these statutes and other public reminders to a museum, where they will be respected and/or vilified for what they were, where visitors can mumble silent prayers or curses at a mixed alter, behind glass, with a placard next to it explaining its reality beyond and reasonable doubt. That is how you bury the past, with full honors, and a honest headstone.