All ‘Racist’ Monuments Are Not Created Equal
Before we demolish U.S. history, we need to face U.S. history.
An old classmate from my school days in Kissimmee, Florida, recently shared something on Facebook that switched on a light bulb in my head. In the post, he compared anyone’s being offended by Confederate monuments to his being offended by men walking around wearing baggy pants hanging so low their underwear shows.
It was impossible not to miss the racist implication of the post. What does one have to do with the other? Confederate monuments glorify men who tried to take down the country, the same one the people who defend them tend to claim is so sacred. In defending Confederate statues, they conveniently set aside the staunch, unforgiving patriotism they use to crucify anyone who kneels during the national anthem.
Low-hanging trousers, on the other hand, are just a (bad) fashion statement. They have nothing to do with historic oppression and degradation of an entire race of people. Those men flashing underwear could easily pull up their trousers. Problem solved? Of course not. How they wear their pants doesn’t mean anything to my old classmate. It’s the men in general. Most of them are Black and Latino, and that’s their real offense. He didn’t have to say it to scream it.
His distaste for the way they wear pants has as much to do with sartorial etiquette as the debate over Confederate statues does with the actual statues — at least for many of the people who want to preserve them. Most of them couldn’t offer a single detail about the life of Robert E. Lee that doesn’t involve his stint as a Confederate general during the Civil War, nor do they devote any significant private time contemplating the great accomplishments of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson or Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
To them, the Confederate statues and the push to topple them represent something larger than marble and even Southern identity. The statues are a symbol of white supremacy, and they see the movement to topple them as a movement to topple the white supremacy and white privilege that have allowed whites to flourish and prosper by achieving the so-called American dream for centuries.