Why would you ever return to what hasn’t worked? I mean, would you ever choose to go back to your least favorite employer? If you had a drinking problem, would you ever choose to go back to those times when you simply weren’t your very best self?
If you’ve worked hard to become educated, or experienced in your trade, would you choose to return to those times when you were more ignorant than not, and didn’t really know what you were doing, at all?
Obviously, you wouldn’t choose any of that, or go back to any time when you were not the very best you could be.
But this seems to be at the heart of the hullabaloo over the Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Here’s why:
Those offended by the monuments (and want them taken down) really believe the rest of us want to go back to the time of slavery, when we were not our very best selves, and more ignorant than not.
But again, who in their right mind would choose to return to what doesn’t work?
You see, removing monuments, rewriting textbooks, redacting words in literary works (such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), legislating political correctness, snubbing films like Gone with the Wind, or even banning the display of the American flag as racist, is not necessary to make the point that what happened way back then has no place whatsoever in whatever we are doing now.
The overwhelming majority of Americans need no convincing of that, at all.
But regardless of whether those monuments are displayed, or pushed into a corner, under the dust heap of history, there will always be those who have hatred in their heart. For them, hiding our past makes no difference in their thinking.
Instead of the monuments representing an enemy, or our past failures (even though the war was really over states’ rights), what if these Confederate monuments represented the triumph of good over evil. Of justice. Redemption. Forgiveness. Of what’s possible when men and women of principle make a stand. Or the power of God to change the hearts and minds of men.
America has changed (thankfully), and that’s putting it mildly. Consider that only 15 percent of African-American adults today lack a high school education, compared with 75 percent of adults 50 years ago. There are now 3.5 times more African-Americans enrolled in college than were 50 years ago, and for every college graduate in 1963, there are now five.
And in positions of power, black elected officials have also made significant gains. Just going back 50 years to when the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, there were only five African-Americans serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate – now there are 49 black lawmakers. Over a similar period, the number of black state legislators grew from about 200 to 700.
Am I saying everything hunky-dory now? No, of course not. There is still prejudice. Bigotry. Injustice. But these have been with us since before Jesus Christ (and will likely be with us until He comes again).
So, how much does removing monuments make life any better for people of color? You tell me. Maybe the issue isn’t so much as where the monuments are placed, or buried, as much as how we perceive their meaning, in the first place.
No, no, no one wants to go back to a time when we were not our very best selves. But that doesn’t mean we want to forget when we weren’t.