Poll Question: Should Macon Move the Confederate Monuments?

Question: What do Jack Ellis and Sarah Palin have in common?

Answer: They were both failures as politicians and both are now desperately trying to stay relevant and get any media coverage.

ellis palinFox News gave old Sarah the boot after her epic rambling meltdown and a realization that Americans are just tired of her. Even her staunchest supporters belatedly now realize she is a complete whacko. What took you so long?

In Bibb county however, the local media still choose to give one failed former mayor far more prominence than he deserves. For some bizarre reason, the local newspaper as well as T.V. stations chose to cover a story where Ellis wrote a letter requesting the removal of a Confederate statue to a cemetery or museum.

Dear local media, No one cares what C. Jack Ellis has to say anymore. Please stop airing and printing his thoughts! 

statueI realize I am breaking my own rule by even mentioning his name, but it was an unfortunate necessity for this article. Instead, allow me to now address the underlying issue of flags and monuments. I understand the desire to do something…anything after the Charleston massacre. That is a normal reaction to an atrocity like this.  But removing a statue and inflaming racial tensions in Bibb County isn’t the answer. I have no problem with saying the Confederate flag shouldn’t be flown on government property, but statues, monuments, and plaques are completely different. Unlike flags, monuments do not invoke the same feelings as flags that have been adopted by the KKK and other hate groups. With the exception of that hideous statue done for Lucille Ball, statues shouldn’t offend anyone unless you are a failed mayor looking to get your name in the news again.

I have recently heard comparisons of the Confederacy to the Nazi’s and the battle flag to the Swastika. This is known as Godwin’s Law “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches ” that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism. This is also how you know the other side has lost the argument and must resort to the nuclear option since they lack any legitimate reasons to counter logic or good sense.

It is beyond preposterous to compare a regime bent on world domination and the genocide of an entire race to a Confederate Army that consisted of young men that mostly didn’t own slaves and thought they were fighting to protect their homes. In the Army of Northern Virginia, for example, the majority of soldiers did not come from families that even had a direct personal stake in slavery. The yeoman class where most of the deaths and casualties came from had no slaves to fight for, they had some property, their families, and their native states. Many were swept up in a massive patriotic recruitment campaign in 1861 and few knew the horrors of war that awaited them. Had they known few would have enlisted and it is ridiculous to assert that men that didn’t own slaves would give their lives to protect that right for rich people they didn’t particularly like. These are the men these statues are intended to honor, not the repugnant institution of slavery. There is a difference between a flag and monuments. Even in Germany which has banned the Nazi flag, you can find monuments and statues honoring fallen soldiers. There is a lot we could learn from Germany about walking that fine line between honoring the fallen and not paying tribute to the cause they fought for.

There were no cars in the 1860’s. Chances are the town you were born in was the same one all your family lived in as well, and the one you died in without ever having left the state or travelled much further than a day’s horsehide from your birth home. People in those times had far more loyalty to the state and only a very superficial knowledge of the North or of the Federal government. There was no real sense of American unity or national pride as we know today. Your loyalty was to your state not country.

I realize I won’t change anyone’s mind on the causes of the war or motives of the recruits. The causes of the Civil War will continue to be debated ad nauseam. But I hope we can all at least agree that resorting to Nazi comparisons is disingenuous and intended purely for shock and outrage.

colosseumaerialviewThere is one country that proudly displays all the ancient monuments to their ancestors that owned slaves and also fed Christians to the lions. Although the Roman Empire existed 2,000 years ago, is their an expiration date on slavery or crimes against humanity? Can you imagine what Italians in Rome would say to you if you suggested they remove monuments because you found them offensive? They probably wouldn’t say anything at all, they would laugh at you and then beat you into a pulp. Many of their monuments were built with slave labor. 

Do the slave-holding Romans and Greeks and all the other ancient civilizations get a free pass on their statues and monuments simply because it was so long ago? Should we destroy the pyramids in Egypt as well since they were built with slave labor? I am just trying to understand the logic of people like Citizen Ellis who want to cover our own history. In Italy they understand the importance of history and of facing the past.

Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue

Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue

Is Ancient Rome too old an example? Let’s skip ahead around 1,200 years into the future. Genghis Khan lived a mere 800 years ago. When I visited Mongolia, I saw monuments and statues of Genghis and many other brutal Khans all over Ulan Bator and even in the middle of the steppe with no towns around the statues. The wars led in his name killed around 40 million people which translates into 10% of the world population at the time.  Yet, I challenge you to go to Ulan Bator and complain about their statues to their beloved Khan. They would treat you as kindly as the Italians. You will see statues of him everywhere you go and all the abundant souvenir stands sell T-Shirts and coffee mugs with his visage. My friends were delighted by the souvenirs I brought back and I was able to even use it as a teaching moment when I told them of the atrocities Genghis had committed while serving them some java in their Ghenghis Khan mug.

The Arc de Triomphe (in English: "Triumphal Arch") honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces.

The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces.

Still too ancient for you? How about France not long before our own Civil War was fought. The wars fought by Napoleon occurred between 1803-1815. Casualties from the Napoleonic wars range between  5-7 million if you include civilian deaths though it is hard to get an accurate number. But if you visit Paris or indeed any other city in France, chances are you will see monuments and statues honoring Napoleon and the veterans that died in those wars. Like the Confederacy, France ultimately paid a very steep price and lost. At the beginning of the French Revolution, the numbers of males to females was virtually identical. By the end of the conflict only 0.857 males remained for every female.

But like the American South, there are still many in France that continue to honor the sacrifice of their ancestors. I am sure some Brits, Germans, and Russians might snicker under their breath when they see all the statues and monuments but that doesn’t stop them from visiting and spending their money while taking photos in front of these iconic monuments.

Make no mistake, this push to remove statues and monuments is being fomented by irrelevant race-baiters that hope to get a little air time and groups with an agenda to gain publicity and donations. I implore citizens of all races to stop allowing irrelevant race-baiters like Ellis to incite people to anger. The statues and monuments are not a symbol of hatred or racism and were a non-issue last week and should be a non-issue this week had our idiotic media chosen to act responsibly and not publish anything about the letter by Citizen Ellis. 

The very fact that Mayor Reichert chose to even acknowledge this letter by Ellis was also a huge mistake. There is nothing to consider or debate. The statue should stay right where it is. Reichert gave the letter by Ellis far more relevance and weight than it deserved. He should have clearly and explicitly stated the statue will remain and avoided the double-talk where he tries to appease all sides.

That level of indecisiveness by Reichert is very troubling. I hope Mayor Reichert speaks in very  unequivocal terms soon to let us know he has no plans to move the statues. No more politico-speak. Speak plainly, forcefully and unambiguously to make your position clear Mr. Mayor.

Ellis had eight years to remove the statue but didn’t. His time has thankfully passed. People in Macon of all races need to come together and not allow gadflies like Ellis to stir up anger for his own ulterior motives to become Mayor again.

If Robert Reichert continues to treat him as an important force that deserves immediate attention and a study, that only diminishes his own stature and adds to Ellis. Ellis can now correctly argue he made Reichert agree to a study when none is required. If ever there was a case for quick and decisive action this is the one.

I am still waiting for a reply to my letter from seven months ago! Perhaps I should rewrite my letter in a more Palinesque style since those are the only people Monsieur Reichert seems able to hear. Well Mayor Reichert, I can assure you if you fold to pressure from Jack Ellis you will hear all our voices.

Perhaps this poll will give Mayor Reichert the courage to speak a bit more plainly the next time he’s asked if the statue should remain or a study needs to be conducted about the removal.

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8 Comments

  1. cpmondello July 2, 2015 Reply
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