The organization issued a statement calling for the removal of all symbols of the Confederacy from the park.
“My tax dollars should not be used to commemorate slavery,” [Atlanta NAACP chapter president Richard] Rose said.
Rose said his group wants Confederate symbols removed from all state-owned buildings, parks and lands.
Rose told Petersen he would start with Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
“Those guys need to go. They can be sand-blasted off, or somebody could carefully remove a slab of that and auction it off to the highest bidder,” Rose said.
Carefully remove a slab? Ummm. That thing is huge. Anyway, once we go down this road, it’s difficult to determine where to stop. Let’s talk a little about Mt. Rushmore for instance. Here are some interesting factoids:
- The man responsible for carving Mt. Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was also involved in the bas relief work for Stone Mountain.
- Mt. Rushmore has a Lakota Sioux name as well: Six Grandfathers. It’s interesting that the US government should etch four “grandfathers” of America into the face of a mountain the Lakota named after their own forefathers.
- Mt. Rushmore is technically on Lakota land, and the Lakota tribe continues to claim the US government illegally took it from them. It wouldn’t exactly be the first time the US government took back land from Native Americans.
All of this highlights the terrible history between the US government and Native Americans. From genocide to forced relocation, the history of our involvement with Native Americans is rife with bloodshed, the wounds of which have never properly healed. So, you could say that your tax dollars “should not be used to commemorate slavery.” But it seems just as valid at that point to say that your tax dollars “should not be used to commemorate genocide.”
Do I think Mt. Rushmore should be sand blasted or dynamited to appease offended Native Americans? No. But I think the history of the US government’s dealings with the Native Americans is just as troubling as the Confederate government’s dealings with slaves. I refuse to trivialize either error. In both cases, ethnic or cultural “superiority” was used as justification to mistreat an entire population of people. In many ways, the American flag and the Confederate battle flag are on equal footing as symbols that have flown over some very harsh racial injustices.
But here again is the real question: What do you do about it now? When the greatest damage has already been done, how do you make it right in the present? This question is basically an eternal one. I don’t think historical injustice can just be overlooked as water under the bridge, but, on the other hand, righting historical wrongs could turn into a never-ending process. Should Americans just return to their distant countries of origin, or return only to those places in the US that our distant forefathers legitimately purchased? Do we remove every monument and symbol that may have at one time ever been connected to bigotry or injustice?
What would we be left of any of our institutions if that were the case? Basically nothing. I think the answer here is a change of heart more than a change of circumstance. Our present actions must have a greater mind toward the future and less of an obsession with the past. How will we ensure that our children and grandchildren live a better, more harmonious life together in the future? Part of that is remembering what wrongs and rights our fathers were responsible for. I get that. But remembering that requires offensive monuments sometimes. It would be better to teach an honest, accurate, unflinching history, and do what we can to achieve a national reconciliation through a persistent attitude of humility and repentance. This current revisionism is arbitrary and futile