How Will Creating Lynching Monuments Set Things Right?

 

The Civil War of the United States will never be over, if some groups have their say.

I missed this story last year; its current iteration saddens and frustrates me. It seems that some people want to transform our history, create new villains and victims, design a story that will make some folks hate others more than ever, and pity those who had little power. I don’t think a lynching monument, or several of them, are going to improve this picture.

Last fall the Equal Justice Initiative was in the process of building a monument to memorialize the history of lynching in our country; the intention, in part, was to contrast them with the Confederate statues that were erected in the South.  One person tried to explain the rationale behind the lynching monuments:

‘What we are trying to do is tell the real truth,’ DeKalb County NAACP President Teresa Hardy said of the new memorial, which she hoped would be a slab marker including the names of people lynched in her county.

Lynching memorials or markers also are being considered in Birmingham, Ala., Tallahassee, Fla., and other places with public Confederate monuments and markers.

The decisions to put up lynching memorials is odd on many levels. Some people say that people need to know that lynchings took place. I agree. They were a despicable part of our history and should be taught in our high school-level history classes. In some ways, however, establishing these memorials seems like payback: if white people can celebrate Southern Civil War heroes, black people can punish them by reminding them that the South not only fought a dishonorable war, but Southerners unjustly lynched blacks.

I understand that for some people, reminders of the Civil War are painful. But has it occurred to the black community that the Confederate statues not only celebrate bravery and leadership, but also remind us that hundreds of thousands of people died on both sides? Isn’t there a benefit to having reminders of our worst wars so that we take them seriously, so that we honor human life, and never forget the horrific experiences we have been through? Don’t we benefit from facing the truth, whether we live in the North or South, that our Republic is fragile and sometimes seriously at risk?

Activist blacks say that racism will never be over, that white people are inherently racist. Yet I doubt that these kinds of movements to build lynching memorials are helpful in planting seeds of reconciliation.

The best question I’ve seen about putting up lynching monuments was this one:

Some who consider Confederate monuments racist have questioned whether putting up new markers about lynching reinforces notions of black people as victims.

‘I’m not sure how I feel about this landscape where we have monuments to white triumph and next to it or down the road you have monuments to black victimization,’ said Nina Silber, a Boston University history professor.

What do you think?

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  1. DavidIWilliams Inactive
    DavidIWilliams
    @DavidIWilliams

    I support the idea of lynching monuments. In fact I would install them right next to the Confederate memorials. There are three reasons for this:

    1. It tells part of our history. A part that a lot of people would like to forget.
    2. It would remind us that many of those Confederate being memorialized were active members of those lynch mobs.
    3. Our public places should tell the story of our communities both for ill and for good.

    Leave the Confederate memorials. They are important. Tell the rest of the story. That is also important. 

    • #1
  2. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    I do not see a problem with tearing down some of the Confederate memorials.  But I would leave some of them as a reminder of our history.

    It makes perfect sense that as the demographics and attitudes of a city changes, the city council might want to rename a Jefferson Davis Highway to Martin Luther King Jr. highway.

    I have no problem with that.

    I also have no problem with some statues informing people of lynching.  But I don’t want a statue like that on every street corner.

    By all means inform the next generation of Americans how evil the Confederacy was.  Don’t sugar coat it.  But then also explain the moral progress America has made and continues to make.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

     

    DavidIWilliams (View Comment):

    I support the idea of lynching monuments. In fact I would install them right next to the Confederate memorials. There are three reasons for this:

    1. It tells part of our history. A part that a lot of people would like to forget.
    2. It would remind us that many of those Confederate being memorialized were active members of those lynch mobs.
    3. Our public places should tell the story of our communities both for ill and for good.

    Leave the Confederate memorials. They are important. Tell the rest of the story. That is also important.

    I’m ambivalent about creating the new memorials, especially because I think your point #2 isn’t necessarily true. Points#1 and #3 make sense, though.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    I also have no problem with some statues informing people of lynching. But I don’t want a statue like that on every street corner.

    To be honest, @heavywater, I think the new memorials aren’t statues, but monuments. As the OP said, one woman proposes listing the names of those who died in a particular county.

    • #4
  5. Joshua Bissey Inactive
    Joshua Bissey
    @TheSockMonkey

    I don’t see a problem with putting up monuments to mark the site of a tragic event, such a lynching, or to honor the victims. I would like to know, though, what is the Equal Justice Initiative doing to call attention to black people currently being put to death via abortion?

    • #5
  6. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    I hope people do get fired up about the evil of lynching.  Maybe then some of them, when they see things like the Kavanaugh hearings, will make the connection and some of that anger will return.  (It seems to me a lot of college kids like to join the equivalent of a lynch mob these days– we hear demands for firing, silencing, censoring, and the like on social media almost every week.)

    But these monuments might be “problematic.” Wasn’t there a big brouhaha about something that merely LOOKED like a noose hanging in a tree at some college recently?

     

    • #6
  7. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    My concern is not with accurately remembering lynching victims, nor with condemning those who murdered them. My concern is with creating an affront the race of those who murdered them, which I suspect is at the root of at least some of the support for these monuments.   But that’s just me.

    • #7
  8. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    My concern is not with accurately remembering lynching victims, nor with condemning those who murdered them. My concern is with creating an affront the race of those who murdered them, which I suspect is at the root of at least some of the support for these monuments. But that’s just me.

    Not just you.

    Susan you are white. There are many in this country that think you should pay, and pay and pay and pay. Reparations are at the root.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Ulysses S Grant did not loathe Robert E Lee like Eisenhower loathed Nazi leaders. Grant and Lee trained together. They both loved the Constitution and God. If nothing else, Confederate monuments like Stone Mountain can remind us that it was a war between brothers with good people throughout. 

    I don’t object categorically to memorials about shameful episodes. But there are few I would trust to design them. And it seems advisable to more frequently memorialize heroism than victimhood. 

    • #9
  10. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I think people should be free.

    That freedom includes the freedom to erect memorials.

    What anyone else has to say about it is not their business.

    As for confederate memorials, people are also free to erect those.

    And this is why we are supposed to have limited government.  If the government doesn’t erect monuments, then there is no reason to argue about it.  Almost all the monuments contemporary to the veterans when they were alive were erected by private entities.  If they were transferred to the government or the government erected them, then the people wanting the monument should expect this nonsense about whether there “should” be monuments.

     

    • #10
  11. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Ulysses S Grant did not loathe Robert E Lee like Eisenhower loathed Nazi leaders. Grant and Lee trained together. They both loved the Constitution and God. If nothing else, Confederate monuments like Stone Mountain can remind us that it was a war between brothers with good people throughout.

    I don’t object categorically to memorials about shameful episodes. But there are few I would trust to design them. And it seems advisable to more frequently memorialize heroism than victimhood.

    This is why I’m generally not in favor of monuments to victims. Society gains more by encouraging heroism. Memorials to lynching are not a “balance” to monuments to Confederate generals or soldiers, but creating such memorials will likely lead to a tit-for-tat false accounting that will undermine both the effort to acknowledge heroism and the effort to remember those have unjustly died. I also have some concern that memorials to lynching will come to be seen less as memorials to the victims than to be beat-downs of all white people. 

    • #11
  12. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I think people should be free.

    That freedom includes the freedom to erect memorials.

    What anyone else has to say about it is not their business.

    As for confederate memorials, people are also free to erect those.

    And this is why we are supposed to have limited government. If the government doesn’t erect monuments, then there is no reason to argue about it. Almost all the monuments contemporary to the veterans when they were alive were erected by private entities. If they were transferred to the government or the government erected them, then the people wanting the monument should expect this nonsense about whether there “should” be monuments.

    And it’s also why we shouldn’t have public schools.  Eradicating the pestilence of public schools eliminates about 70% of public debate.  

    • #12
  13. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    …..

    • #13
  14. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Ulysses S Grant did not loathe Robert E Lee like Eisenhower loathed Nazi leaders. Grant and Lee trained together. They both loved the Constitution and God. If nothing else, Confederate monuments like Stone Mountain can remind us that it was a war between brothers with good people throughout.

    I don’t object categorically to memorials about shameful episodes. But there are few I would trust to design them. And it seems advisable to more frequently memorialize heroism than victimhood.

    This is why I’m generally not in favor of monuments to victims. Society gains more by encouraging heroism. Memorials to lynching are not a “balance” to monuments to Confederate generals or soldiers, but creating such memorials will likely lead to a tit-for-tat false accounting that will undermine both the effort to acknowledge heroism and the effort to remember those have unjustly died. I also have some concern that memorials to lynching will come to be seen less as memorials to the victims than to be beat-downs of all white people.

    Perhaps it would be better to put a monument to Nat Turner up next to Confederate monuments. 

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    My concern is not with accurately remembering lynching victims, nor with condemning those who murdered them. My concern is with creating an affront the race of those who murdered them, which I suspect is at the root of at least some of the support for these monuments. But that’s just me.

    I don’t think this is just about reporting history. I just don’t see it. I think it is a reminder that racism is still alive and well. And they want to make sure we remember that–not those who died so despicably. Why else would someone propose recently that we needed anti-lynching legislation?

    Yes, they are free to build them. But I agree in part with @hoyacon that their motives are suspect.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Ulysses S Grant did not loathe Robert E Lee like Eisenhower loathed Nazi leaders. Grant and Lee trained together. They both loved the Constitution and God. If nothing else, Confederate monuments like Stone Mountain can remind us that it was a war between brothers with good people throughout.

    I don’t object categorically to memorials about shameful episodes. But there are few I would trust to design them. And it seems advisable to more frequently memorialize heroism than victimhood.

    This is why I’m generally not in favor of monuments to victims. Society gains more by encouraging heroism. Memorials to lynching are not a “balance” to monuments to Confederate generals or soldiers, but creating such memorials will likely lead to a tit-for-tat false accounting that will undermine both the effort to acknowledge heroism and the effort to remember those have unjustly died. I also have some concern that memorials to lynching will come to be seen less as memorials to the victims than to be beat-downs of all white people.

    Given the degree to which blacks feel victimized already, I think these monuments will reinforce that belief. There are lots of admirable blacks in our history who were successful, but are degraded as Uncle Toms; Booker T Washington is one example. So is Thomas Sowell.

    • #16
  17. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Ulysses S Grant did not loathe Robert E Lee like Eisenhower loathed Nazi leaders. Grant and Lee trained together. They both loved the Constitution and God. If nothing else, Confederate monuments like Stone Mountain can remind us that it was a war between brothers with good people throughout.

    I don’t object categorically to memorials about shameful episodes. But there are few I would trust to design them. And it seems advisable to more frequently memorialize heroism than victimhood.

    This is why I’m generally not in favor of monuments to victims. Society gains more by encouraging heroism. Memorials to lynching are not a “balance” to monuments to Confederate generals or soldiers, but creating such memorials will likely lead to a tit-for-tat false accounting that will undermine both the effort to acknowledge heroism and the effort to remember those have unjustly died. I also have some concern that memorials to lynching will come to be seen less as memorials to the victims than to be beat-downs of all white people.

    Given the degree to which blacks feel victimized already, I think these monuments will reinforce that belief. There are lots of admirable blacks in our history who were successful, but are degraded as Uncle Toms; Booker T Washington is one example. So is Thomas Sowell.

    And there are plenty of examples of blacks lynched because they were “uppity”, so let’s identify them and build monuments to memorialize their heroism.  They stood up at great risk and paid the price.

    • #17
  18. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Many Southerners would welcome statues of great black Americans who are not associated with the Civil Rights movement. MLK streets are everywhere. There is already plenty to remind us of racial segregation (not least of which are Democrats’ current practices to separate people). More would be gained from celebration of local heroes in charity, industry, the arts, and whatnot. 

    Any sort of statue or memorial can be politicized. Those with the least resistance, admired by people on both sides of the aisle or any particular debate, are probably the most beneficial. And I do wish the emphasis was on local exemplars.

    • #18
  19. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    There are lots of admirable blacks in our history who were successful, but are degraded as Uncle Toms; Booker T Washington is one example. So is Thomas Sowell.

    I think Glenn Loury made a similar point years ago about the back to African roots movement: it ignored the amazing history of black achievement right here in the U.S.  That keeps happening and it is a shame.  I lived through the period when the black men and women I admired most got smeared as “Uncle Toms” by the Panthers and others who wanted to be the new leaders. 

    • #19
  20. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Ulysses S Grant did not loathe Robert E Lee like Eisenhower loathed Nazi leaders. Grant and Lee trained together. They both loved the Constitution and God. If nothing else, Confederate monuments like Stone Mountain can remind us that it was a war between brothers with good people throughout.

    I don’t object categorically to memorials about shameful episodes. But there are few I would trust to design them. And it seems advisable to more frequently memorialize heroism than victimhood.

    This is why I’m generally not in favor of monuments to victims. Society gains more by encouraging heroism. Memorials to lynching are not a “balance” to monuments to Confederate generals or soldiers, but creating such memorials will likely lead to a tit-for-tat false accounting that will undermine both the effort to acknowledge heroism and the effort to remember those have unjustly died. I also have some concern that memorials to lynching will come to be seen less as memorials to the victims than to be beat-downs of all white people.

    The Lost Cause which prompted many of the Confederate monuments was the ultimate in victimhood and grievance culture.

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Isn’t it surprising that there aren’t more of these already?

    I found it strange when I lived in Washington that there were no plaques marking (for eg) the auction blocks in Anacostia. Maybe it’s changed now?

    • #21
  22. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Isn’t it surprising that there aren’t more of these already?

    I found it strange when I lived in Washington that there were no plaques marking (for eg) the auction blocks in Anacostia. Maybe it’s changed now?

    There actually are quite a few civil rights monuments in the South already.  For instance, in Charlestown (where you can visit the slave auction building), Birmingham, Atlanta, Memphis and many other places.

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Isn’t it surprising that there aren’t more of these already?

    I found it strange when I lived in Washington that there were no plaques marking (for eg) the auction blocks in Anacostia. Maybe it’s changed now?

    There actually are quite a few civil rights monuments in the South already. For instance, in Charlestown (where you can visit the slave auction building), Birmingham, Atlanta, Memphis and many other places.

    Yes.  I visited the one in Charleston and it was very well done. Not a proud time in our history.

    • #23
  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    People need to give up being victims and take agency for their own lives. Period. Tearing down statues does nothing, changes, nothing, and inflames others. 

    And that is the point. They want to piss others off. That is all they care about. 

     

     

    • #24
  25. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    How do you feel about monuments to the victims of the Holocaust? Aren’t those also a form of vengeance against the perpetrators and populations that stood by and allowed it to happen? Don’t they also perpetuate feelings of victimhood? 

    Perhaps the word monument creates a certain cognitive dissonance. To me it seems that it is important to remember the victims of human evil so that we do not forget its presence or its ability to permeate a society, any society. I think if one thinks of them as shrines or memorials perhaps it would seem less awkward. 

    And while children should be taught in schools the details of things like slavery, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, public reminders serve to keep people memories fresh into adulthood when the lessons of school have started to fade.

     

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    How do you feel about monuments to the victims of the Holocaust? Aren’t those also a form of vengeance against the perpetrators and populations that stood by and allowed it to happen? Don’t they also perpetuate feelings of victimhood?

    Perhaps the word monument creates a certain cognitive dissonance. To me it seems that it is important to remember the victims of human evil so that we do not forget its presence or its ability to permeate a society, any society. I think if one thinks of them as shrines or memorials perhaps it would seem less awkward.

    And while children should be taught in schools the details of things like slavery, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, public reminders serve to keep people memories fresh into adulthood when the lessons of school have started to fade.

     

    Very good points, @valiuth. Yes, there are monuments to the victims of the Holocaust. But as I’ve just posted on the Member Feed, the Jews have a long history of being tortured and destroyed. Also, very important: most Jews I know don’t see themselves as victims or identify with victimhood. 

    Interesting what you say about monuments vs. shrines and memorials. How do you think the word monument causes cognitive dissonance? It’s a point worth exploring. 

    And I especially like your last point: these public reminders do keep the truth in front of us. Thanks.                   

    • #26
  27. Mike "Lash" LaRoche Inactive
    Mike "Lash" LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    People need to give up being victims and take agency for their own lives. Period. Tearing down statues does nothing, changes, nothing, and inflames others.

    And that is the point. They want to piss others off. That is all they care about.

    This.

    • #27
  28. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Sure, we need more monuments to the Civil War because racism is almost forgotten.  Nobody ever talks, thinks, argues about that stuff.  We need to be sure that white people, 5 generations removed from the event and maybe with no direct linage feel shame, and have reverse Jim Crow laws on them and guilt to a group of people that have a different shade of skin but may not have a direct lineage to the initial event.  

    Just curious, when I destroy these statues because they hurt my feeling think I will get a slap on the hand pass, like the Left activists?  Or the maximum amount of hate crime penalties design for whites only?  Asking for a friend. 

    • #28
  29. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Yes, there are monuments to the victims of the Holocaust. But as I’ve just posted on the Member Feed, the Jews have a long history of being tortured and destroyed. Also, very important: most Jews I know don’t see themselves as victims or identify with victimhood. 

    Interesting what you say about monuments vs. shrines and memorials. How do you think the word monument causes cognitive dissonance? It’s a point worth exploring. 

    Im confused by your first paragraph. Do you think the history of African American suffering is simply too short to warrant public memorialization? Surely not. And as to Jews not feeling victimized or having a victim mentality, I am also puzzled. Seems to me Jews today spend plenty of time worrying about their own victimization, and mind you I dont find this unwarranted. Plenty of antisemitism still around. But that doesn’t seem to me to be so different from what African Americans feel. After all would Jews be so attentive to the various tropes and phrasing politicians use to describe their organizations if they did not fear victimization? And if they fear victimization do they not have a victim mentality? I guess I’m just not sure what victim mentality means specifically to you. 

    Is it just not having a feeling that people have victimized you directly? But what if you have been victimized then is it wrong to have this mentality? 

    To me it seems that people here are too easily dismissing the feeling and anxieties of African Americans. I think as a Jew you might sympathize more, after all if I told you you worry too much about the “anti-zionism” of the progressives you might think me at best niave if not outright insensitive or even secretly sympathetic to it. 

    To me it seems that because racism is used as a political cudgel against Republicans that endorsing these monuments will only help to fuel and empower the various race grifters that exist in the African American community. But grifters will manipulate any situation, so in general I think it’s best to put them out of mind. And ask your self this. Do you honestly think lynching victims are not worthy of public memorialization, a kind ofs civic beatification? Public monuments long outlive their initial political meanings and significance and they carry on as messages from the past to a future present. And these monuments to the victims of lynching will, I think, carry on a crucial message to never forget that evil exists in this world, even in a pleasant peaceful American town, and that it was not the work of dispassionate nature but willful human action. And thus we must ever be vigilant against it.

     

     

    • #29
  30. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Let me get this right:  If a lefty artist hangs a noose from a tree, it’s a memorial to lynching.  If anyone else does it, it’s racist.

    • #30
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