There are certain objects, around us at all time such as statues, that I am oblivious to until it is brought to my attention. And then it becomes so obvious and I feel like such a fool. So, it is in the case of statues of members of the Confederacy. I see a statue of Robert E Lee and it is followed by thoughts about the greatness of the man. That initial thought is followed by sorrow as I focus on what a traitor the man became. Someone that could have been unquestionably great attempted to destroy this great nation, this grand experiment, and most important of all, fought to allow a system that kept some of us in chains and whipped and raped and killed, dehumanizing at every turn. This was not a man who was great, this was a man in fine clothes that was a monster.
That this nation allowed statues constructed in memory of an enemy is beyond belief. It is also so American. The excerpt below is from a fine article on this subject and when you have some time to considerate, consider it.
“Whatever else I may forget,” the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said in 1894, “I shall never forget the difference between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery.” Douglass (who is doing an amazing job and is being recognized more and more) deplored an emerging national consensus that the Civil War had been fought over vague philosophical disagreements about federalism and states’ rights, but not over the core issue of slavery. In this retelling, neither side was right or wrong, and both Confederate and Union soldiers were to be celebrated for their battlefield valor.
Douglass was right to be concerned. Southerners may have lost the Civil War, but between the 1890s and 1920s they won the first great battle over its official memory. They fought that battle in popular literature, history books and college curricula, but also on hundreds of courthouse steps and city squares, where they erected monuments to Confederate veterans and martyrs. These statues reinforced the romance of reunion.
Now, a century and a half after the Civil War, Americans are finally confronting the propriety of celebrating the lives of men who committed treason in the name of preserving slavery. That these statues even exist is unusual. When armies are defeated on their own soil—particularly when those armies fight to promote racist or genocidal policies—they usually don’t get to keep their symbols and material culture. As some commentators have noted, Germany in 1945 is a useful comparison. “Flags were torn down while defeated cities still burned, even as citizens crawling from the rubble were just realizing that the governments they represented had ended,” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/20/why-there-are-no-nazi-statues-in-germany-215510?lo=ap_e1