Down It Comes … Now What?

It certainly looks like the days of the Confederate Battle Flag flying on the grounds of the state house in Columbia, South Carolina are numbered. This is in large part due to prominent South Carolina political leaders changing positions under pressure given the recent mass murder in the state.

No one can deny that. The arguments concerning the display of that particular flag are neither more nor less valid than before. Nor will the flag’s removal silence white supremacists and Confederate heritage advocates (especially those who have freely associated with white supremacists).

So, what’s next? Will this debate subside or continue, as people look to other uses of Confederate icons and symbols? Is this simply about a flag that is as much a symbol of resistance to civil rights and equality as it was a symbol for soldiers whose performance on the battlefield might have secured the independence of a republic founded upon the cornerstone of white supremacy and inequality?

One thing is clear: it has not been a good ten days for Confederate heritage advocates. Between licence plates, several SCV divisions rebuking other Confederate heritage groups for outrageous and childish behavior, and the fallout from Charleston, it may be that in 2015 people marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by doing to Confederate heritage what Grant and Sherman did to the Confederacy itself in 1865.

69 thoughts on “Down It Comes … Now What?

  1. Mark June 22, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    My money is on the issue subsiding.

    • John Foskett June 23, 2015 / 11:11 am

      Of course, the wise gambler makes sure that the money can be done without in a pinch.

  2. William Underhill June 22, 2015 / 2:43 pm

    Well said, Brooks.

  3. M.D. Blough June 22, 2015 / 4:55 pm

    I think the removal of the flag from the state capitol grounds is very important but, obviously, will not miraculously end racism in South Carolina. I think it does indicate an important change in South Carolina simply because, since many of the governmental officials in question are not and never will be candidates for a new edition of “Profiles in Courage”, it indicates that supporting the Confederate flag, at least on public buildings and their grounds, has become a political liability even among the whites.

  4. TF Smith June 22, 2015 / 6:49 pm
    • John Foskett June 23, 2015 / 11:10 am

      Great rendition of a great song about a great flag, Mr. Smith. Or, as Mr. Root put it in a more rollicking form,

      “Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the Jubilee.Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free. So we sang our chorus from Atlanta to the sea.”

      • T F Smith June 23, 2015 / 9:23 pm

        Indeed.

      • OhioGuy June 25, 2015 / 2:57 pm

        My favorite song about the Late Rebellion. I remember my father singing the chorus to me as a wee lad. He didn’t sing much, but he did know that song and few others. I suspect it was handed down to him from the Civil War generation, since his g-grandfather had seen the Elephant and his grandfather had volunteered but was sent back as being too young.

      • Noma June 26, 2015 / 2:52 pm

        Stupendous! Thanks for posting!

    • MSB June 24, 2015 / 2:20 pm

      Thanks so much for posting this video! I’ve been looking for it for a long time.

      • TF Smith June 25, 2015 / 3:50 pm

        You are quite welcome. It is beautifully done.

  5. bob carey June 23, 2015 / 5:49 am

    Once the furor over these horrific murders begins to subside, I think the best we can hope for is a tiny step toward sanity in regards to the problem of racism in this country.
    I agree with the previous post that their are no “Profiles in Courage” here. Gov. Haleys’ comments are almost apologetic to the “Heritage” crowd. I believe the SCV has vowed to fight the removal of the CBF. This should be interesting if they follow through, because it could expose their true feelings to the public at large.
    Call me cynical.

  6. Tony June 23, 2015 / 6:44 am

    The flag coming down certainly is a nice tribute to the victims, but it obviates what should be the obvious: the best way to honor the victims in this tragedy is to run out of town on a rail any politician who has entertained or pandered to the CCC or any related group.

    Yeah, I’m talking about you, half of the elected representatives of Mississippi.

  7. charlie June 23, 2015 / 7:02 am

    I hope this will lead more people to try to gain a better understanding of the Civil War. Maybe it will lead people to read some primary source material, such as, SC articles of Succession. They can see just how slavery and white supremacy played a major role in the history of SC and the Confederacy.

    • Noma June 24, 2015 / 7:58 am

      Charlie — you suggest that if people “study primary source material” they will get a better understanding of the Civil War. I totally agree. But we must recognize, that for about a hundred years there has been one group which has been staunchly opposed to people getting a better understanding of the Civil War, and that is the UDC.

      **********

      At this point, I’m waiting for someone like Ta Nehisi Coates or Rachel Maddow to do a big story exposing the United Daughters of the Confederacy UDC.

      The reason that everyone in the South “knows” that the “War Between the States” was “not a rebellion” and “not about slavery” — is in very large part due to the almost evangelical mission of the UDC to make sure that that is what all the textbooks say.

      The power of this group over long decades has been disastrously underestimated.

      “CREED:

      We, therfore pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals;

      to honor the memory of our beloved Veterans;

      to study and teach the truths of history
      (one of the most important of which is, that the War Between the States was not a rebellion,
      nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery)…

      http://www.hqudc.org/cofc-purpose-eligibility-and-creed/

      • OhioGuy June 25, 2015 / 3:09 pm

        Yea, the UDC is a real problematic group. They are extension of what William Piston called, “Jubal Early and Lee Cult.” I think that cult is being exposed more each day. I should add, as a counter to some of what’s been posted here, that militant neo-Confederatism (did I just invent a word?) is not rampant in South Carolina. I’ve visited there many times in recent years, and I don’t think racism there is any more prevalent today than it is in New Jersey or Minnesota. These folks are a vocal minority, and are increasingly an embarrassment to most South Carolinians. One must give objective credit to South Carolina for the election of Tim Scott, with about 65 percent of the vote. This compared with about 55 percent for the re-election of senior senator Lindsey Graham in the same election. Scott, as you folks all know, is the first African American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction. This is not 1965!

      • ben June 28, 2015 / 3:09 pm

        Thank God for people who keep the real truth alive

    • Richard June 24, 2015 / 7:42 pm

      You don’t need primary sources, you just take a left at the confederate monument and walk to the African American History monument. You see the black experience from arriving in chains, fighting in Union regiments, Jim Crow, and finally to positions of power and authority in SC. Juxtaposed against the CBF and confederate monument you have all the history you need. All one has to do is look and reflect.

  8. Bob D'Amato June 23, 2015 / 7:53 am

    I understand the need to rally around something or someone to blame for the never ending debate over racism. It appears that many put the Confederate flag in the same catagory as the swatstika and it’s relationship to Nazism. It simply sends chills of horror to their heart and soul. I feel it is a fact of reality that will not be escaped. I understand that it is history not hate, but in my heart in hearts I say let it go it’s time to bury it just like the N word and I know that is a fantasy in itself. Then too it will be interesting to see what the next culprit will be.

    • ben June 28, 2015 / 3:13 pm

      Please, I am so tired of weasels who refuse to stand up to the liberal ideals in this country today. Where are those with the backbone to challenge the destruction of America?

  9. fundrums June 23, 2015 / 9:24 am

    (Crossover post from Facebook) As an individual who: wrote five Civil War books on the Confederacy, produced a documentary about a Confederate soldier, spoke to countless groups about the South’s wartime experiences, named his son after ‘Stonewall’ Jackson and has a vanity plate that says STOWNWL, I actually agree with removing the Confederate flag from the SC capitol and putting it in a museum so it can be properly interpreted. I would focus the story about this facsimile flag and its removal from the capitol as part of the display’s narrative. No one is saying to eliminate the Confederate battle flag from historical memory, just off of public grounds that represent the entire public that it serves. It’s not disrespecting anyone’s ancestors who fought under that flag. In fact, they wouldn’t appreciate all the commercialization and tacky t-shirts, shot glasses and bikinis that bear their flag. Wal-Mart is actually doing them a favor by pulling all the junk off their shelves that truly disrespects their heritage. It’s not about PC, or liberalism, or any other agenda for that matter. It’s simply about moving on. I understand the hesitation to change but it’s about time. It is sad that it required the murder of nine black Americans, 150 years after the death of slavery to institute a change.- Michael Aubrecht

    • Leo June 23, 2015 / 10:37 am

      Well said, fundrums

    • Jimmy Dick June 23, 2015 / 2:20 pm

      Everything the SCV believes in is under fire. It is at a crossroads now. Either it changes what it stands for so that it acknowledges history and rejects the lost cause myths or the group will be taken over completely by the racists which will cause it to become a shell of itself.

      • Andy Hall June 23, 2015 / 4:11 pm

        I don’t see how that happens. They’ve willingly locked themselves into “The Charge” from S. D. Lee, that obligates them to “vindication of the cause for which we fought.”

        • Jimmy Dick June 24, 2015 / 1:49 pm

          Then it becomes a shell of itself. I saw Ben Jones and his post on FB. More of the same lies which means the man has not learned a thing. They made a choice. Now they can live with the consequences.

          The SCV is built on a foundation of lies and racism. I will not mourn its passing.

          • Daryl Hulvey June 25, 2015 / 2:15 pm

            Hold on a minute Mr. Jim Dick! The bigots and racist are who? It’s the people LIKE YOU and POLITICIANS that are out to get votes at the expense of Southern pride! Let’s see how can I destroy more American history they ask! African American RADICALS are looking for a chance to make their names big! Now it’s time for them to pick on them white boys!
            They can take down all the flags they want, but that won’t deter from me flagging my Confederate Flag. My Confederate great grandfather had no slaves, it was when Lincoln sent troops to Va. he did fight. He was no traitor because he fought for what he thought was right, just like American soldiers now and in the Revolutionary War.
            I’m sorry that a demented individual did that shooting on Black Americans. That was not right to shoot on anyone! Would it make a difference if those people were white? The media has a field day now. That was one individual not a majority. I am a member of the SCV by honoring my great grandfather, and you’re calling me a racist? My friends are racist also you say? Just because we honor our ancestor’s? Most of my friends are Black and don’t share the idea of what’s going on because of our Southern history. I’m glad you and your bigot, racial friends think the way you do! Shoe fits both ways doesn’t it?
            Take all the flags down, but that won’t destroy the SCV or our heritage!

          • Jimmy Dick June 29, 2015 / 10:13 am

            Daryl,
            If you don’t like being called a racist don’t wave that CBF. If you want to honor your ancestors then explain why they fought for slavery and quit denying that they did. Fly the CBF when appropriate. It does not represent southern pride. It represents racism.

            The SCV has been assisting in passing off a mythology as history. Until it changes its stance, it is on the road to extinction. That is their choice. If you want to assist in that extinction, that is your choice.

        • SF Walker June 29, 2015 / 2:15 pm

          “They’ve willingly locked themselves into ‘The Charge’ from S.D. Lee, that obligates them to ‘vindication of the cause for which we fought.”

          Exactly. And by doing so, they’re shackling themselves to a 19th-century Southern worldview that will forever be out of step with today’s sensibilities. If they stay on that course, they’ll continue to be marginalized. However, I do believe that some on the other side of the spectrum are going overboard with this. Apple recently pulled a computer strategy game on the Battle of Gettysburg because there’s an image of the Confederate battle flag on the cover.

      • Leo June 23, 2015 / 9:06 pm

        Jimmy, you nailed it!

        • ben June 28, 2015 / 3:15 pm

          Amen!

      • OhioGuy June 25, 2015 / 3:11 pm

        Don’t always agree with your posts, but this one is spot on!

    • John Foskett June 24, 2015 / 10:52 am

      Well, I agree that the war was “unnecessary.:” Too bad a group of people fomented an illegal rebellion and then fired on a U.S. military installation, starting a war.

  10. Neil Hamilton June 23, 2015 / 3:23 pm

    It’s time to stop the worship and begin to actually research the history.

  11. M.D. Blough June 23, 2015 / 7:46 pm

    Will be, Jimmy? IMHO, that ship has already sailed.

  12. Sherree June 24, 2015 / 6:58 am

    “Down it comes…..now what?”

    Pray. Respect the dead. Don’t gloat, like some are doing. Don’t confuse the issue and what is at stake. Wait to see what President Obama has to say about race in this nation. Follow the lead of Emanuel AME.

    Yesterday, South Carolina state senator Paul Thurmond was the first legislator to call for putting the Confederate flag in a museum. Paul Thurmond is the son of Strom Thurmond. I never thought I would live long enough to see this day, and I am not that old, yet.

    The only thing that can derail this truly incredible moment in our history in which we might really begin to dismantle racism in America–a moment born of tragedy– is if white men and women begin to make the moment about themselves, rather than about African American men and women. That is a history that has a tradition, too.

    • Leo June 24, 2015 / 11:05 am

      Yes, the high road is always best.

        • Jimmy Dick June 24, 2015 / 1:50 pm

          😀

  13. fundrums June 24, 2015 / 11:51 am

    You also have eBay, Wal-Mart, Amazon, NASCAR and other American institutions now banning the flag. I have never seen a backlash like this before. It looks like the flaggers lost. _ Michael Aubrecht

    • Mark June 24, 2015 / 5:12 pm

      Yeah I guess the flaggers lost in that sense. Since these retailers will sell Nazi SS flags and jewelry and Stalinist stuff, are the skinheads the winners? You see how stupid this really is?

  14. Mark June 24, 2015 / 12:40 pm

    Now what? Oh I dunno, maybe think the fruits of living an independent life is more important than the usual suspects trumpeting a flag as a symbol of it? Of course, aside from the usual suspects we already do.

    That’s why this flag bruhaha is pure politics. Take the flag down for heaven’s sake. If you want to know why those left of center are so interested in the usual suspects promotion of the flag, and their nattering on about how such things show racism has a latent power about to break out driven by the logic of bad ideas, read Kevin D. Williamson’s June 24th article “We Have Officially Reached Peak Leftism” at the National Review Online.

    It’s all politics. Forget the symbols and live your life.

    • TF Smith June 25, 2015 / 3:52 pm

      And politics is what by other means? The rebellion was defeated; about time its icons are no longer displayed on public property.

      • John Foskett June 26, 2015 / 10:49 am

        Amen. And it was illegal before it was defeated. I love seeing alleged patriots defend the display of something that came to represent an armed attack against a military installation of our great republic and the banner flying proudly over that installation when it was attacked. Fort McHenry = Fort Sumner.

    • Andy Hall June 25, 2015 / 7:06 am

      Bertram Hayes-Davis was the director at Beauvoir for a while until forced out for being reconstructed.

      • OhioGuy June 25, 2015 / 3:17 pm

        That’s the way I like my southerners — properly reconstructed!🙂

      • Leo June 25, 2015 / 9:05 pm

        Yes, it is run by Greg Stewart now. He is the guy responsible for “saving” the Mississippi flag in 2001 and for pushing the NBF license plate idea.

        http://www.wlox.com/story/29401597/beauvoir-leader-says-the-confederate-flag-will-continue-to-fly

        As a side note from someone on the ground here in Mississippi, it looks like our state flag is not going to change after all. The governor refuses to call the legislature into secession to deal with it despite several legislators stating a willingness to discuss the matter. Also, The mayor of Hattiesburg ordered all state flags removed from city property and all the major universities here have issued statements for a change. The Mayor of Oxford has also issued a statement for change with other public officials and newspapers.

        There seems to be a strong consensus amoung legislators and the general public for a return to the orgional state flag usually referred to as the Magnolia Flag, but I don’t see anything happening under governor Bryant’s “leadership”. He would likely veto any move to change the flag made by the legislature anyway.

        • Leo June 26, 2015 / 7:03 am

          Apologies for the typing errors in my previous post.🙂

        • Andy Hall June 26, 2015 / 9:01 am

          Governor Bryant’s having a really bad week.

  15. OhioGuy June 25, 2015 / 3:24 pm

    “Between licence plates, several SCV divisions rebuking other Confederate heritage groups for outrageous and childish behavior, and the fallout from Charleston, it may be that in 2015 people marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by doing to Confederate heritage what Grant and Sherman did to the Confederacy itself in 1865.” — Brooks Simpson

    I kind of get the impression that you are right here. Though the Lost Cause has been losing ground for the past 30 years or so, it may well be that the Charleston Massacre will turn out to be its Gettysburg. It took a little while after that battle for the South to realize that they had reached their high tide and that they no longer had a chance to win. Likewise, the neo-Confederate types may snort on for awhile but it does look now like their days are numbered as any kind of political or cultural force whatsoever.

    • Sherree June 26, 2015 / 7:41 pm

      Alan,

      I really like your idea for Richmond. I believe it would work beautifully.

      I think that the way forward is for all of us to begin to realize that our Civil War belongs to everyone and that it is part of who we all are. The sectional differences in our nation are as divisive as the racial ones.

      Today at Reverend Pinckney’s funeral President Obama said: “As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind. He has given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves.”

      I agree with that. And I am going to hold onto it. Our nation is as big and raucous as the President indicated, and our history–our real history–is downright fascinating. I am convinced that my Confederate ancestor who was the one who established my family’s link to the black community in our area did so because he was in a battle that included African American Union soldiers. I am quite certain that he was not a nice guy, since his brother was killed in that battle, and a massacre of black soldiers occurred. But something happened after the war because he had a change of heart. So maybe he went from slave society mentality to “My God, those men could fight!” Who knows? He didn’t leave his family with the Confederate legacy, though, and for that I am grateful. Yet, since this is our war, we are all Confederates, aren’t we? All Union? All African American? All Americans? Or, are we?

  16. OhioGuy June 26, 2015 / 6:43 pm

    Somewhere Uncle Billy is smiling today . . . as the CBF comes down from the Charleston State House grounds. In honor of our Ohio hero, born just a few miles up the road from where I type these words, I thought it appropriate to post the lyrics of this little period ditty that Sherman is said to have liked better than “Marching Through Georgia.”

    WHEN SHERMAN MARCHED DOWN TO THE SEA

    by Samuel Hawkins Marshall Byers
    Tune: “Old Rosin the Beau”

    Our camp-fires shone bright on the mountains
    That frowned on the river below,
    While we stood by our guns in the morning,
    And eagerly watched for the foe;
    When a rider came out of the darkness
    That hung over mountain and tree,
    And shouted: “Boys, up and be ready!
    For Sherman will march to the sea!”

    Then cheer upon cheer for bold Sherman
    Went up from each valley and glen,
    And the bugles re-echoed the music
    That came from the lips of the men;
    For we knew that the stars in our banner
    More bright in their splendor would be,
    And that blessings from Northland would greet us
    While Sherman marched down to the sea.

    Then forward, boys! forward to battle!
    We marched on our perilous way,
    And we stormed the wild hills of Resaca–
    God bless those who fell on that day!
    Then Kennesaw, dark in its glory,
    Frowned down on the flag of the free,
    But the East and the West bore our standards
    When Sherman marched down to the sea.

    Still onward we pressed till our banners
    Swept out from Atlanta’s grim walls,
    And the blood of the patriot dampened
    The soil where the traitor flag falls.
    We paused not to weep for the fallen,
    Who sleep by each river and tree,
    But we twined them a wreath of the laurel,
    And Sherman marched on to the sea.

    Oh, proud was our army that morning,
    That stood where the pine darkly towers,
    When Sherman said, “Boys, you are weary,
    But to-day fair Savannah is ours.”
    Then sang we a song for our chieftain,
    That echoed o’er river and lea,
    And the stars in our banner shone brighter
    When Sherman marched down to the sea.

    You may listen to the music here, if you’d like. You must have software that will play midi files
    http://freepages.music.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~edgmon/cwsherman.htm

    • Sherree June 27, 2015 / 5:40 am

      Ohio Guy,

      I agree that Sherman is a hero of the Civil War. It has been interesting to me to see how those who have ancestors that fought for the Union view the Civil War. White Southerners of the Confederacy are seen as traitors. I never knew that. So some of these heritage wars are to honor the memory of Union ancestors. Fair enough and long overdue. The Lost Cause crowd certainly has controlled the memory of the Civil War for far too long. It is the Union Army that saved the Union and freed the slaves. Simplistic, but true, and an incontrovertible fact. The employment of USCT troops was not incidental, but integral, to that war effort. Another incontrovertible fact. It was indeed an incredible moment in American history when black and white troops marched into Richmond and brought freedom to the enslaved. This represents the best in America.

      Now turn to the West. Sherman is not a hero in the “Indian Wars”. There are no heroes in the Indian Wars. This is where a sharp distinction comes in between the idea that men and women should not be enslaved and that men and women of other races are equal to white men. Sherman was a white supremacist when it comes to the “Indian”, and he advocated genocide. These are also facts, yet is the statement I just made a helpful way in which to understand our history?

      We need to begin to see our history as an “organic whole”, as Kevin Levin put it on CWM. But first we have to see it. An honest and factual understanding of Reconstruction and the 150 years that followed must be understood in order for us to see it. The Charleston massacre says it all. No more. Not now. Not ever. We have a respected scholar on Reconstruction right here as our blog host and he is willing to talk to the public. For those who want to understand the “Indian Wars”, start from an Indigenous perspective, because how white Americans viewed the Cheyenne, Lakota, Navajo, Nez Perces, became part of our identity as a nation. Mount Rushmore is sacrilegious to the Lakota. The Black Hills are their sacred land. The holy man Black Elk speaks eloquently of this in “Black Elk Speaks”. We should all think of Black Elk when we look at Mount Rushmore. And we should all think of Frederick Douglass and Dr. King when we look at a statue of Jefferson Davis. Then we might actually really become the last best hope.

  17. OhioGuy June 27, 2015 / 10:21 am

    Sherree, I agree with most all of what you say here. I would only add that the war against the Indians has in recent years been portrayed in a little too simplistic fashion. Though the aggression was most often the results of European incursions, this was not always the case. Aboriginal Americans belonged to a variety of tribes whose cultures varied widely in terms of their attitudes and worldview. An interesting way to get insight into this issue is to look at what historians can tell us about the wars that went on between various tribes prior to the arrival of the white man. One example is the nearly total extermination of the Erie Indians by the Iroquois and their allies. In this particular case, the French were technically an ally of the Iroquois, but they were not involved in the fighting. The was a war between tribes, and as I said, there were many such wars way before the Europeans arrived on the scene. Again, this is not to exonerate the many white atrocities against various tribes but simply to place the Indian Wars in perspective.

    • Sherree June 27, 2015 / 4:48 pm

      Ohio Guy,

      Well, I don’t know what to do when someone agrees with me. I am beginning to believe that I am a contrarian by nature.🙂 I thought you were going to respond with an “Ode to Sherman” and I was ready for you.

      I know what you mean. It is actually an insult to Native men and women to act as though they were not agents in their own history before and after contact with Europeans. They were most definitely in full command of their lives, culture, and history. However, the concept of agency only extends so far, and women and children at the wrong end of a Gatling gun aren’t covered by it, as you as much as state.

      If you ever get a chance to read “Black Elk Speaks”, I think you will find it to be a powerful book. Black Elk was a child who escaped Wounded Knee. He was also a holy man whose words of wisdom have guided me for years.

  18. Buck Buchanan June 29, 2015 / 9:57 am

    Sherree,

    I will take a little bit of an exception to one of your comments…about there being no heroes in the American Indian wars of the 19th Century.

    I will not disgaree that much of the national leadership (and by that I mean the Federal Government, the Indian Bureau, the Army staff and senior field commanders….not to mention the general public) were racist towards Native Americans.

    That is an attitude which existed when Europeans first stepped ashore at Jamestown and Plymouth.

    But there is little doubt that there are numerous instances where individual Soldiers or groups of Soldiers performed in a heroic manner. Many were justly awarded Medals of Honor, our nation’s highest honor for bravery, for their actions.

    I am also fully aware of the too many terrible things members of the Army did in some instances.

    But I also want folks ro understand we cannot use a broadbrush…when we do he are just as guilty as many fo the Heritage Not Hate crowd.

    • Sherree June 30, 2015 / 3:15 am

      Thanks for your reply, Buck. I understand and appreciate what you have said. Painting with a broadbrush is never a good idea, but it is often what we do as we search for a way to imagine, and reimagine, our history.

      There were Medal of Honor recipients for the Wounded Knee massacre. Those medals should be rescinded, in my opinion, and from your comment, I think you would agree. Wounded Knee was a massacre of civilians, not a battle. I am referencing Wounded Knee, because I mentioned Black Elk in an earlier comment. Black Elk gives an account of the massacre from the Lakota perspective.

      • John Foskett June 30, 2015 / 7:12 am

        Unless you’re Native American, it’s difficult to speak knowledgeably about these things without adopting an almost caricaturized version of history – from any slant. For example, the Niitsitapi (the several Blackfoot nations) became notorious “land-grabbers”, war-fomenters, and generally awful neighbors to the adjacent tribes after they discovered the benefits of the horse, and well before whites were on the scene. (Full disclosure – my knowledge is inevitably skewed by my northern Shoshone and Crow contacts). Likewise, many Crow, for example, often had little reluctance in cooperating with the Army in its campaigns during the 1870’s. All accepted history ought to be viewed with a skeptical eye, because (unfortunately) it too easily becomes oversimplified and politicized.

        • Sherree June 30, 2015 / 4:52 pm

          John,

          I don’t know if you were addressing Buck or me, but I agree with your idea that all accepted history on Indigenous men and women should be viewed with a skeptical eye.

          One thing is for certain, though: European contact was disastrous for America’s indigenous populations.

          My contacts are Creek, Cherokee, Objiwa, Cree, Seminole, and Lakota, and they all pretty much agree with that much of the story.

          Wounded Knee was a massacre. Indian Boarding schools were a disaster. I have two friends whose families are still dealing with the intergenerational trauma created by those boarding schools.

          I don’t think we are ready to really talk about race in this nation. I am not sure that we ever will be. But we have to keep trying. And eventually we have do more than just try, as we unfortunately were reminded again with the recent tragedy in Charleston.

          Words matter. How we frame our historical narratives matters. I think we all agree on that. So was Colfax a riot or a massacre, we can ask ourselves. Wounded Knee a battle or a massacre? Both? That all depends upon your point of view, and on which side of history you find yourself to be.

          • Buck Buchanan July 10, 2015 / 7:50 am

            Sherree,

            Don’t disagree about Wounded Knee.

            But that one battle does not sum up the totality of the US Army’s actions in the Indian Wars.

  19. Buck Buchanan June 29, 2015 / 10:19 am

    Alan,

    I live about 25 miles south of Richmond outside of Petersburg. I applaud your desire to commemorate the taking of Richmond in 1865 by Soldiers of the Army of the James.

    However, I disagree with Monument Avenue as the location. Much of it was rural and outside the city at the time.

    I think a better location for a statue would be at the US Civil War Center at the Tredegar Iron Works. it is near where the Soldiers came ashore and helped put out the fires which had spread when the Confederates set fire to public property.

    That is a better site.

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