Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Talbot Boys

There is a statue in front of the Talbot County Court House in Easton, Maryland that is the center of controversy. I never even noticed it until reading about it in the newspaper. According to DelmarvaNow:
In recent years, the "Talbot Boys" statue has come under fire. The monument depicts a Confederate color bearer, and lists the names of Talbot County Confederate veterans. In late 2015, the Talbot County Council, under pressure to remove the statue, voted in closed session to keep it. That closed session vote was found to be in violation of Maryland's Open Meetings Act, so the council voted again in 2016 to keep the statue. 

Council President Corey Pack said the statue doesn't promote slavery, but the values of the Confederacy. He said the 100-year-old statue was part of the county's history. (Read more.)
I wrote the following letter to the Easton paper. I do not know if they will publish it or not but for what it's worth, here is what I think:
As a lifelong Marylander but a newcomer to Talbot County, I have followed with interest the debate surrounding the "Talbot Boys" statue at the county court house. I must confess that I was completely unaware of the presence of the statue until reading about it in the paper. My attention was always drawn instead to the statue of the great orator, author, diplomat and statesman Frederick Douglass. When I finally did notice the "Talbot Boys" I would never have known that it honored Confederate veterans except for the controversy. What did strike me, when I finally decided to see the statue for myself, is that the soldier boy is holding a furled banner in an posture of surrender, as if he is surrendering to Frederick Douglass. My initial impression was that the "Talbot Boys" statue symbolizes Southern humiliation and defeat; there is nothing triumphant about it. Especially since it represents young men, including teenagers no doubt, who died for a lost cause. The fact that it stands where men, women and children were sold at auction, adds to the gravity of the most cruel lesson of our past, that permitting the evil of slavery had a ripple effect that cost lives as well as destroyed lives. Are there horrors and injustices we tolerate now that we will someday regret, such as the killing of the unborn? Have we eradicated all forms of slavery in our world today, like drug addiction and human trafficking? Furthermore, I wonder why the statue, which many now find so offensive, was not removed in the 60's during the Civil Right's movement? Or the 70's or 80's or 90's? Why has it taken so long for there to be a public outcry? Why now?
Statue of Frederick Douglass at the Talbot County Court House
Seriously,  people are acting as if they only now discovered that there was such a thing as slavery in America, and such a thing as the Confederacy. Those statues have been there for a long time. Why the sudden zeal to pull them all down? Matt Walsh predicted months ago that it is part of a movement to whitewash American history. The monuments of the Founding Fathers will no doubt be next. To quote:
We can try to draw distinctions all we want, but the fact remains that Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder. So was George Washington. So was James Madison. So was John Hancock. So was Patrick Henry. Some of the Founders, like John Adams and Thomas Paine, opposed the practice, but they were largely exceptions. If Robert E. Lee, who owned no slaves and hated slavery, must be held liable for slavery because he fought on the side of those who wished to keep it legal, how can we not hold liable those historical figures who actually were slaveholders themselves? By what bizarre and twisted standard can we tear down a Robert E. Lee monument on the grounds of slavery while solemnly saluting the memorials and monuments of actual slaveowners? We can’t. And the forces that have spearheaded this effort to denigrate the memories of great southern generals know that. It’s all part of the plan. Mark my words.

Of course, if we’ve gotten into the business of stuffing those associated with slavery down the memory hole, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We certainly can’t stop with the Confederate or colonists. Slavery was an accepted institution across the planet for thousands of years. In some parts of the world, it still is. You will be hard pressed to find a patch of humanity anywhere on the globe that does not bear the ancestral guilt of slavery. This is not a crime unique to the white man, even less is it unique to the southern white man.

I am not attempting to diminish the evil of slavery or suggest that the southerners who supported it were not morally accountable for that support. But I am saying that if we are not allowing men like Lee even the slightest bit of historical context, then how can we allow it for anyone else? If we say that Lee should have been so against slavery that he would have been willing to take up arms against his own children to abolish it, how can we be lenient with so many other historical icons? Why do we require Robert E. Lee to have had the abolitionist zeal of John Brown — which is what would have been needed to prompt him to raise his sword against his home and his family over it — when no one on either side had the zeal of John Brown except for John Brown? Why are Robert E. Lee and company expected to have seen slavery from a modern lens if no one else in history is held to that standard?

Well, the problem, as I say, is that others in history will soon be held to that standard. The purge will continue. The mob will move on to its next target. And how will we be better for it? (Read more.)
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1 comment:

elena maria vidal said...

Update: The city council of Easton voted for the statue to stay last night.