It would appear that the recent controversy has swelled to much more than about a flag. In the wake of the Marion County dispute, the flag is coming down in Charleston South Carolina. The state grounds will no longer hoist the rebel flag but it doesn’t end there. All over the region commonly referred to as the south, lawmakers are busy pushing for a ‘monumental’ makeover. New Orleans, for example, is considering a name change for the Jefferson Davis Parkway. For those who don’t know, he was the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The change wouldn’t stop here. Many want to remove statues that commemorate civil war confederate leaders too.
Washington D.C. is even joining the ranks to rally against the old confederacy. The House and Senate are debating resolutions to make it illegal to fly the rebel flag in national parks. Far over on the west coast in Long Beach, lawmakers are demanding the name change for a local elementary school that bears the name of General Robert E. Lee.
Perhaps it is time for the rebels and racists to cease to be glorified. But no one can clean the slate of the past besides God. We need memorials alright, but they need to be aimed at showing future generations our mistakes so that history won’t repeat itself. That’s why we have holocaust museums. They don’t glorify those events but help us not to forget what happens when good people allow evil people to rule nations. They help remind us that we need a savior and we need to partner with God to stand up for justice and truth and fight back against hate and oppression. Was the institution of slavery similar to the holocaust? In more ways than one. Groups of people were treated as property, caged, abused, used for forced labor, and murdered. Sounds shockingly similar doesn’t it? Now sure there were slave owners that treated their slaves like family but they were most definitely a minority.
I say all of this for the reason that we shouldn’t try to erase the past but we should remember it in the right context. We should not allow men like Supreme Court Justice Taney, who led the way in the Dred Scott case to declare all slaves property and unable to gain the rights of a citizen whether freed or not, or Ben Tillman who sanctioned for mass extermination of black slaves in the south, to be memorialized in any other fashion than as sins of our past.
I think the American psyche has a hard time looking in the rear view and remembering our major blemishes. Slavery, assimilation and removal of native Americans, abuse of immigrants, antisemitism, racism, gender discrimination, etc. it’s like people only want to see America as great. I would agree that we live in a great country but not one without a long list of mistakes.
So let’s put the statues and names and flags in a museum that tells the accurate story of who they were and what they stand for. Maybe then we can move forward even more towards healing deep-seated wounds. Maybe that could help us break cycles of hatred and distrust coming from all races still today. Maybe then we can join together and fall on our knees before God and pray that He fill us with a love for Him and one another that we can move forward united while not forgetting where we came from. In the Lord there are new beginnings and forgiveness from the most horrible things.