By Carl Kruse
A focal point of the city of Richmond, Virginia is a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
Lee was by all accounts a brave, intelligent man, who betrayed the U.S.A. for the idea that slavery was morally good, and in doing so probably secured himself a place in Hell.
Hitler was another misguided man whose impact on history was far greater than Lee, yet there are no statues of Hitler anywhere, or of any of the Nazi generals who abetted him. Why honor devils?
But in the U.S.A. we have hundreds of monuments to similar devils, and what’s worse we debate if we should keep them. How these statues came about is a story in itself, but can we agree Lee and the Confederacy were misguided? Can we agree slavery is evil and those who supported it were wrong? And do we not see the damage to our collective soul from honoring the deeds of pro-slavery advocates?
I have met former members of the German Wehrmacht. Bright, tough men who fought for their country, like Lee. Their descendants are embarrassed and heartbroken that their forefathers allied themselves to a horrible cause. There are no statues to these men, nor will there ever be, and some day these men might well join Lee in Hell.
There are no United Daughters of the Confederacy in Germany and could anyone imagine a “United Daughters of the Third Reich” bent on honoring the men in grey who defended the Fatherland? The display of the Nazi flag is a crime in Germany, even as the Confederate one flies in the U.S.A.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that the statue of Lee would be removed after repeatedly defaced by protestors. Four other Confederate statues on Monument Avenue in Richmond will go as well, though that of Lee is the largest and most important.
At first I thought, about time. Then looked closer at images of the defaced Lee, and something in me thought the monument improved. Leaving it as is marked the proper historical trajectory of the statue. But then thinking again, I thought removing it would erase an honor that should have never been.
Anyway, might we consider having our future statues and monuments honor those who make us better and move humanity forward?
Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
P.S. How about honoring love and the colonizers of dreams? Perhaps a statue to J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien? Or maybe the morse code operator of the Titanic who went down at his station?
My other blog on nonprofits is at https://carlkruse.org
This is a photo in Berlin of one of the most historically important sites of World War II. Hitler’s Bunker, from which he managed the war until the Red Army overran it in 1945. The bunker is an expansive underground complex — demolished and filled with concrete — and is commemorated today with a dirt parking lot, with no signs, plaques or statues. People take their dogs here to pee.
Are Germans erasing history? Hitler and the Führerbunker are historically important. More so than Robert E. Lee and the hundreds of Confederates honored in the USA who mutinied against the USA to further the idea that slavery was morally good.
There are no monuments anywhere to Hitler and the Nazis who abetted him, no matter how historically important they were. Why honor them?
And why honor the Confederates, who today almost certainly rest side by side with Hitler and his generals in Hell?
As I mentioned earlier, removing Confederate monuments is not tampering with history. It is erasing an honor that should never have been. Can we please do away with their statues?
And again, in the future, might we choose to honor with statues and monuments people that enrich us, make us better and move all of us forward?