I wonder when they will start tearing down statues of Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia who was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, and will they destroy or rename buildings and roads bearing his name?!???
In a letter to Senator Theodore Bilbo (D-MS) in 1944, Senator Byrd declared: “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
On one critical issue, Byrd broke ranks with his Democratic colleagues. In 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was being considered for passage on the Senate floor, Byrd filibustered for 15 hours, declaring at one point, “Men are not created equal today, and they were not created equal in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was written…Men and races of men differ in appearance, ways, physical power, mental capacity, creativity, and vision.” Byrd would later apologize profusely for these opinions and his participation in the KKK.
According to Fox News, there are no less than 20 buildings, from universities to courthouses, and three highways wearing Byrd’s name, in honor of his “accomplishments”. Multiple buildings are named for him on the campus of Marshall University alone, which is, in fact, now calling for them to be renamed.
Upon Byrd’s death, he had allies even in the Civil Rights movement, with the NAACP at the time praising his legacy and his transformation from a former KKK member to a “stalwart supporter” of civil rights. Byrd’s evolution, however genuine or simply for political points and show, was even honored by then President Obama, after he died.
Once one starts erasing history, no one is safe from the destruction.
You may not like what a person stood for but rather than seeing any particular statue as an idol or representative of the bad the person did, try to understand why the statue was erected in the beginning. And if there’s nothing socially redeeming about the person and his actions over a lifetime, understand him and those actions through the prism of history, as a teaching tool to build a better society and prevent a repeat of those same horrible mistakes and deeds.
Often times, men associated with the Civil War, such as General Nathan Bedford Forest, did a good number of fine things before and after the war. Forest actually worked towards racial reconciliation and healing in America, despite false claims that he founded the KKK.
During a recent battle over his statue in Tennessee, Tennessee Rep. Micah Van Huss was defiant in a statement written during the brouhaha: “Leftists are free to choose not to look at these glorious monuments,” he wrote. “You want to blind yourself to history? Go ahead and live in your politically correct fantasy world. I live in the real world and will represent my constituents from that viewpoint. I won’t be bullied into pandering to your fragile feelings. I will stand by my heritage and the history of the greatest nation the world has ever seen.”
Further, a July 5th 1875 speech that was delivered to the Independent Order of Pole Bearers, a group of black Southerners in Memphis, Tennessee, got Forrest in trouble with Southern racists at the time, mostly because he dared to kiss a young black woman on the cheek when he accepted a bouquet of flowers from her.
Some quotes from the speech: –
“This day is a day that is proud to me, having occupied the position that I did for the past twelve years, and been misunderstood by your race. This is the first opportunity I have had during that time to say that I am your friend. I am here a representative of the southern people, one more slandered and maligned than any man in the nation.”
– “I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going.”
– “I am your friend … We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, and live in the same land. Why, then, can we not live as brothers? I will say that when the war broke out I felt it my duty to stand by my people. When the time came I did the best I could, and I don’t believe I flickered. I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe that I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to bring about peace.”
– “When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment.”
– “Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief.”
And now they are attacking former President Theodore Roosevelt who was not really a racist in any common sense of the word. Roosevelt was certainly not a racist in the Southern tradition of hating his colored “inferiors”, oppressing them, and murdering them. The type of racism Roosevelt adhered to was common among whites, especially educated whites, that held it is the White Man’s Burden to care for and uplift blacks:
One view proposes that whites have an obligation to rule over, and encourage the cultural development of people from other cultural backgrounds until they can take their place in the world economically and socially. The term “the white man’s burden” has been interpreted by some as racist, or possibly taken as a metaphor for a condescending view of “undeveloped” national culture and economic traditions, identified as a sense of European ascendancy which has been called “cultural imperialism”. An alternative interpretation is the philanthropic view, common in Rudyard Kipling’s formative years, that the rich (whites) have a moral duty and obligation to help “the poor” (coloreds) “better” themselves whether the poor (coloreds) want the help or not.
This style of racism probably shouldn’t be called racism because that is misleading. We don’t have a modern term that expresses the prevailing belief of the ruling class of the time. Roosevelt’s outlook was one of benevolence such as one has for a child. Condescending perhaps but not evil.
But because his statue outside the Museum of Natural History in New York City depicts him as a white man of great stature with two men subordinate and trailing behind, one black and one Native American Indian, the censors and the revisionists are demanding its removal.
And it’s a damn shame, because history is so much more complicated than just a few years out of any one person’s life, a life that holds so many different possibilities and opportunities to do the right thing for all, to never ask for forgiveness or to one day seek redemption and beg for forgiveness.