In response to a controversial “Hurricane Andrew” column published in last month’s issue of the paper, we have encouraged readers to submit letters to the editor. This one was submitted by Eric Bazail, class of 2019.
This month’s edition of “Hurricane Andrew” fundamentally floored me. The blatant disregard for basic history exhibited in this column appalls me and motivates me to write this letter because the record must be set straight.
First off, equating Christopher Columbus and the Conquistadors is a grave mistake of historical interpretation that I have no interest in discussing. But more importantly, misconstruing the opposing argument as wanting to eradicate mention of Confederates from history is a fallacy on the author’s part. Wanting to take down monuments dedicated to these individuals is not removing them from history – it is removing them from the literal pedestal they have stood on for decades and it is recognizing the role that these individuals have played in fomenting racism and bigotry in our nation’s history.
The Civil War was fought for states rights. But for which state right? That of a state to allow slavery within its borders. Yes, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers were slave-owners. Their conduct is unequivocally reprehensible and will remain a blemish on their historical records. However, their racism and disregard for the worth of other human beings never led them to commit acts of treason. If not on the grounds of their inexcusable bigotry, the fact that Confederates betrayed our nation should be enough to preclude their historical legacy from being revered.
As the great freedom fighter Liu Xiaobo once said, hatred “destroys a society’s tolerance and humanity, and blocks a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy.” America has never been more divided, and symbols of the oppression committed by one people over another will only detract from our healing. These monuments deserve to be in museums, not in public parks and places where they solely serve as a perpetual reminder of the racism and hatred their subjects espoused. Figures such as Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, who later founded the Ku Klux Klan, deserve to be reviled and scrutinized by historians, not honored and celebrated.
I agree that these changes should not happen overnight. Changing county, street, and place names would have to happen over several years and admittedly at a substantial cost, but We the People must take those steps, or else the ghosts of our past will continue to haunt us. An investment in our domestic tranquility and common defense will always pay itself back tenfold, so let us act now, before it becomes too late.