I had never thought about this, even though growing up in VA and being a Civil War buff, visiting the battlefields and museums.
The Confederate statues of Richmond’s Monument Avenue weren’t erected to honor the service of brave warriors. Those soldiers had been dead for decades before the statues went up. No, the statues were put up by white people, beginning in the 1890s, to remind black people that, despite all that nonsense of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, as well as the so-called Reconstruction, we are back, and you are back down. The towering likenesses of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson weren’t put up to celebrate history or heritage; they were put up as a message: The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution aren’t going to help you black folks because the South has risen from that humiliation. Jim Crow — a name rooted in blackface mockery — is king.
If you doubt that well-documented history — if you are tempted to buy the “heritage, not hate” rhetoric — ask yourself this question: “Where are the statues of James Longstreet?” Remember: Longstreet was Lee’s most trusted general, his second-in-command, his “Old War Horse.” Longstreet was a brave and talented warrior for the Confederacy from beginning to end. But there aren’t any Longstreet statues in Richmond — and there weren’t any at all until 1998, at Gettysburg. That’s because his service to the United States continued after the Civil War, and he did something inconsistent with the purpose of the statues, and of blackface: He treated African Americans as citizens of the United States. Longstreet agreed to serve his reunified country, joined Lincoln’s Republican Party and helped Grant protect the rights of newly freed black Americans.
Longstreet committed two unforgivable sins in the eyes of white supremacists: He criticized Lee’s war leadership, and he led an African American militia to put down an 1874 white rebellion in Louisiana. That’s why this central figure in Civil War history is not depicted among the other Confederate statues in Richmond. The statues were about only a certain kind of heritage, just as blackface was about a certain kind of storytelling. It was about hate, not history or art.
This is that bullshit that I hate.
First, those statues from the 1890s were not put up to intimidate black folks. Their placement alone in the centers of towns are exactly the places you wouldn't put something if you were targeting black people because they were on the margins. Jim Crow laws started almost immediately after the Civil War, during reconstruction, and were in full swing by the 1870s. And let's not pretend that modern SJW commissars have any sense at all about the mindset of 1890s white Southerners. Occam's razor says they made the monuments for the stated reason: to honor the warriors of the Confederacy at a time when those men were dying out.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, so fucking what if whites and blacks don't always see eye to eye? This is a country built on the freedom of conscience, the freedom to disagree, the freedom to not like all people equally. Why is that a problem? I'll tell you why: because the goal of "social justice" is ideological purity and the abolition of any line of thinking other than their own. And that, friend, is more dangerous than any stupid racist will ever be. These people want to control your mind. Don't let them.
Third, regarding the "heritage, not hate" Longstreet aside, total garbage from start to finish. If this author really wanted to see monuments to a prominent Confederate who went on to treat black Americans as full citizens of the United States then let's put a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest in every town and village in the South. He was a cotton grower, cattleman, slave trader before the war. He was a military genius known for massacre at Fort Pillow during the war. After the war? First Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. But he didn't stop there. When he became convinced that they were becoming a force of oppression, he induced them to disband. He gave speeches promoting racial harmony, including these words to a black audience, on July 5, 1875:
I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I'll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.
But you will never hear any calls for a statue of Forrest, or of Longstreet, because they are dishonest about their real motives which have nothing to do with racial harmony.