On Moving and Removing Monuments (and a poll!)

Just because the Confederate Battle Flag no longer flies on the grounds of the South Carolina state house does not mean that the debate over the display of Confederate flags, icons, and symbols is over … including monuments to Confederate leaders and soldiers. Today we consider the last category.

Monuments are creatures of the place and time when they are erected (and where) just as much as they are ways of paying tribute to a person, event, cause, soldiers … whatever the subject of the monument. They tell us as much about the people who erected those monuments as they do about the subject of the monument. One need only recall the history of the major monuments in Washington, DC, as well as the debates over more recent monuments placed in the nation’s capital to understand this point. Even ugly monuments (see here) have their own special message, although in some cases I believe the monument may actually mock or denigrate its subject (see there).

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Who’s an American Veteran?

People like to point out that Confederate veterans are American veterans (although they clearly are not United States veterans). After all, Congress says so (these same people distrust and dismiss what Congress says whenever it pleases them so I take this at face value).

So let me ask …

Are Native Americans who battled the United States for far longer than did the Confederate Native Americans? Should their descendants benefit in like manner?

Are those Americans who remained loyal to the Crown during the uprising of 1775-1783 American veterans? How about Benedict Arnold? He covered both bases.

Are those Americans who joined various terrorist groups (and apparently continue to do so) American veterans?

Whatever your answers, explain them. Surely you don’t want to rely upon the answer that simply because Congress says it, it’s true. You don’t always offer that answer, do you?