So we here can all agree that the arguments in favor of celebrating the Confederate flag and monuments are bullshit, right? But there’s a new wrinkle in the argument; proponents of maintaining statues dedicated to racists are claiming to do so in favor of not forgetting our history.
See? It makes perfect sense. It’s not about racism, it’s just about remembering our past! Or more accurately, remembering the parts of the past we feel comfortable with while attributing motivations to those actions we deem acceptable. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery, it was about State’s Rights. Confederate soldiers weren’t fighting to continue owning black people, they were just maintaining their way of life. Sally Hemings was Thomas Jefferson’s “mistress,” not his “enslaved prisoner who literally didn’t have the power to consent to the sexual relationship he forced on her.”
That last one might have gotten a few of you, right? Felt like kind of a kick to the balls? It’s part of the same reason that an astonishing number of things are dedicated to and named after traitors who declared open war on the United States: white supremacy. Even declaring that one group of humans can’t own another group inadvertently supports a white power structure by deciding that white people ever had the authority to validate black people’s humanity.
This is the thing white people do. We declare what things are important to remember, why they were important, what the reasons behind the actions were, and how we should feel about it now. So it actually is about remembering history in a way. Provided we also get to force everyone else to remember our version of it.