The current issue of the removal of Confederate statues initially would not appear to be a Constitution Party issue, per se, but a closer look at the motivations and the players involved in the removal of these statues does make it something that we need to address because it is part of an attack on one of the prime goals of our party – restoring State Rights.
For me, the problem is not the removal of the statues. Removing statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest or Jefferson Davis is not objectionable to me. They were hardcore racists and proponents of slavery. I feel they deserve no honor nor respect. The removal of the statues of Robert E. Lee, however, show the true intentions of those that are promoting an agenda and a cause that we need to fight against.
You see, it is not the removal of the statues that concerns me. It is the narrative of why they are removing them that bothers me. The removal of the Robert E. Lee statues clearly shows what their true motivations are. It is part of their insistence that all statues of Confederate leaders, regardless of their character or motivations, must be removed because they all supported and promoted the institution of slavery.
This narrative removes all the historical truths and presents a historical agenda instead. It purports that the Confederacy and the Civil War was only about one subject: Slavery. Yet, like any major conflict, the war was about many issues and many of them were equal in importance to those that fought them. Was slavery a major issue? Absolutely and undeniably. Any efforts by our members to try to minimize the issue only hurts us in our cause (more on that later). Yet, State Rights were also a major part of the motivation for the clear majority of southerners. There were also conflicts with economic issues, culture and technology differences, trade concerns, and frustrations with a Congress that failed to resolve the issue and kept trying to skirt around it with patches and temporary fixes. These were all a big part of the decision to succeed. Trying to minimize the issue to just one topic is purposely being deceptive because there is ample evidence that all of these issues were important factors in the conflict.
Removing the statues of Robert E. Lee is where the true nature of their agenda comes to light. Labeling him as a racist and pro-slavery advocate is a very big stretch. These revisionists ignore the evidence that Lee, like many southerners at the time, was becoming more enlightened about slavery and recognizing it as an evil institution. The revisionists want to promote a south that would have continued slavery indefinitely if they would have won (note HBO’s “Confederate” series) when there is a preponderance of the historical evidence that indicates that slavery would have ended within 10-20 years even if the south would have won. Based on his personal letters and writings, Robert E. Lee would probably have been the leader of that movement.
So, why are they promoting this racist agenda and narrative with the removal of Confederate statues?
First – their narrative is that these statues represent an America that is still racist and still honors its racist past. Once again, they are using the race wedge to get us opposing each other and divide us into White Supremacists vs. victims of racism. This is part of the Whites vs. Blacks battle that only exists with the media and socialist government officials.
Second (and most importantly) – their narrative is that those who promote the State Rights aspect of the Civil War are just really White Supremacists that are using the State Rights issue to hide their true racist sentiments. It promotes an agenda that anyone who argues for State Rights and uses the cause of the southern states to argue their point, are just really racists who secretly support the Confederacy’s desire to continue slavery.
The second agenda is more important to them because the State Rights movement is gaining popularity in the U.S. due to efforts of organizations like the Constitution Party. By taking past comments and articles that were written about the Confederate States fight for State Rights, they now promote that anyone that supports anything about the Confederate States is really racists and slavery advocates. This is why Robert E. Lee must be labeled with the rest of Confederate leaders as a racist, pro-slavery advocate.
If we want to continue to promote our cause for State Rights, then we need to confront the narrative rather than just an opposition to the statues being removed. We must challenge them on the facts, the true history, and on labeling anyone that supports the Confederates fight for State Rights as being racist and pro-slavery.
To effectively make this fight, we need to acknowledge the truth: Slavery was a major part of the conflict and strongly supported by the Confederate government leaders (who were mostly plantation owners and the business owners that supported them). If we try to ignore or minimalize the issue, then we are playing into their hands. It was a big part of the fight and the Confederate leaders were 100% wrong for supporting it. We should acknowledge and condemn these actions but insist that it cannot condemn every aspect of the Confederate cause.
Having acknowledged the truth, we can then challenge them on their minimalization of the State Rights issue and ignoring of the reason that the MAJORITY of people (like Robert E. Lee) were fighting against what they perceived as a tyrannical Federal government and president that was exceeding their Constitutional boundaries. We need to show the American people that, like most wars, there were good and bad reasons for fighting the Civil War. Additionally, the reason that the people support it was very different than the reasons that the government leaders supported it. Afghanistan is a recent example of the same thing. The people were volunteering to fight terrorism. Our government leaders were supporting the war for different reasons. As such, applying a blanket label that all Confederate generals and causes were racist in nature is being purposely deceptive.
Is fighting the removal of Confederate statues a Constitution Party cause? No. In fact, we should be supporting and promoting the removal of any honors for those individuals of the Confederacy that were advocates for slavery and racism.
We need to, however, make a stand on allowing these revisionists to promote their agenda that anyone associated with the Confederate cause was a racist. We need to challenge their agenda that the only issue was slavery and everything else was just a minor cause. The Confederate cause for State Rights was an honorable one and was actually more important than slavery to most of those that were fighting. We cannot allow our opponents to ignore this important part of the conflict and revise history to meet their agenda. They were separate issues and there were many who opposed slavery but fought for the Confederate States because of the State Rights issue. That is why we have honored men like Robert E. Lee and erected statues to him. We don’t honor him for fighting for a government that promoted slavery. We honor him for knowing that State Rights was the bigger issue and worth fighting for.