The Image of Racism and Slavery in Confederate Statues
by Camille A-G on November 3, 2017 - 4:57pm
Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia, describes the issue of Confederate statues in an article for The New York Times. He describes that multiple reactions have appeared regarding the removal of Confederate statues in the United States, including President Trump who has described that such removal tears apart ''the history and culture of our great country''. The debate of removing Confederate statues arises from a history that begins before the American Civil War.
In 1790, the nation put in place a law regarding guidelines for immigrants and how they may become citizens of the nation, a law that limited the new inhabitants to be ''white''. Before the Civil War, the idea of citizenship differed from state to state, and some believed that black people were not citizens of the country. In 1857, the Supreme Court arrived at the Dred Scott decision, one in which Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared that people of color were and would always be aliens in the nation.
Some Americans rejected this idea and advocated the end of slavery and considered black people to be equally a part of the American society as white people. After the Civil war, a wave of terrorist opposition by the Ku Klux Klan and other similar groups were put into place and white supremacy took hold of the South of the country.
This crucial part of history that contains the racism and slavery present in the United States is at the core of the removal of Confederate statues. As President Donald Trump tweeted and discussed his disapproval and deception regarding the tearing down of these statues, the question of our history's importance as an argument arose. Historians, such as Carl Becker, believe that Confederate statues that commemorate this dark part of American history are an expression of power remembered in public all over the nation. Knowing that most of these statues were built in the 1890s when the Confederacy was slowly becoming idealized and in the 1920s during black disenfranchisement, segregation and lynching, it is argued that the Confederate statues represent this racist regime.
In brief, according to Eric Foner in his article, statues that commemorate this dark period of the American past contain a history and culture that are much more complex than what the President believes when he claims that such statues tear apart what makes Americans who they are.
Eric Foner's article for The New York Times discusses the issue of the removal of Confederate statues with a worldview that promotes equality and is against any form of racism. Through the eyes of Eric Foner and all others who are on the same side as him, the statues commemorate an issue that encompasses an image of slavery and racism, an issue that is much more grand than the pride of American history. On the other hand, those who believe in keeping the statues ignore the importance of the message of these statues as they believe that history is history and cannot be changed. They believe that these statues show a dark part of history that is important to remember, and they do not see these figures as a racist threat in public. On the more extremist side, white nationalists and neo-nazis are completely aware of the racist message hidden in these Confederate statues and proudly show their agreement toward racism and slavery.
In conclusion, on a personal side, I agree with the removal of Confederate statues as they publicly worship chiefs, leaders and soldiers from the Confederacy, a union of American states that agreed with and wanted slavery in during the Civil War. My worldview regarding this issue comes from my value of equality, a value that is much more important to me than the pride of a country. In my past experiences in which I have encountered and met wonderful people of multiple ethnicities, I have realized that ethnicity is just a slight part of who we are, and that diversity is one of the most beautiful aspects of this world. I have noticed that the color of the skin, the culture, sexual orientation and religion of humans does not change anything in the fact that we all, in the end, are the same in this one big family. My worldview of equality does not accept Confederate statues that worship chiefs that encouraged slavery and represent an image of white power.
Where else can we notice well hidden images or ideas of white power? Do certain names of buildings, streets and schools also contain a hidden image of racism? To what extent is white power still present in the United States, and in other countries around the world?
Foner, Eric. ‘’Confederate Statues and ‘Our’ History.’’ The New York Times, 20 Aug. 2017, https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/opinion/confederate-statues-american-history.html. Accessed 3 November 2017.