Lee, Jackson, Trump
We are inching our way slowly to acknowledge that there is an elephant in the room. The room that I am referencing is a large room, which we call America. What became a part of that room occurred on August 20, 1619. The British colony of Jamestown, Virginia became the home of about two dozen slaves from Africa.
For the next four centuries, America has never fully addressed the elephant of racism. Racism was enshrined in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Obviously, Jefferson meant whites were created equal.
America fought the Civil War between 1861-1865 because the Southern states wanted to continue enslaving people. While the North won the war, they lost the peace. Slavery moved to segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, and a litany of discriminatory treatment of blacks.
There are more than 1500 memorials that honor the Confederacy, most of which are located in the South. Nearly half of that number are statues of Confederate soldiers. On July 10, Charlottesville, VA removed the statues of two Confederate generals: Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, from their public parks.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker of Charlottesville said, “Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America, grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain.”
Walker is correct “is one small step closer” to America addressing racism. In 400 years, we have moved incrementally to treating blacks as Americans. America touts that we live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Merely saying or singing that assertion doesn’t make it so.
As I wrote this essay, I pondered why we memorialize the Confederacy because of racism. A century ago, Hitler’s Germany waged their white supremacist mindset. Nonetheless, there aren’t any statues of any of the generals of WWII like Rommel, Göring, Keitel, Himmler, or Jodl. However, we have over seven hundred statues of an earlier time of racists.
After Donald the Dumb ignominious presidency, I wonder whether he dreams about some great statue like the Colossus of Rhodes. It could be the Colossus of Mar-a-Lago.
Trump, the white supremacist-in-chief, as the balloon baby, seems more apropos.