the right to be offended
I’ve recently taken a step back from my blogging, a personal choice to focus on advancing my future career. I found that after an 8AM- 5PM work -day there were some aspects of my life that fell to the wayside. I wanted to blog, but I didn’t want to write about issues, topics, recent happenings, that I didn’t have adequate time to devote research to. My internship has since concluded and I again find myself fascinated by what is happening in front of my eyes on the TV screen. In the last week confusion, frustration, and anger have swirled in my mind, never once finding rest in one emotion in my mind. It’s hard for me to reconcile, reflect, as this is the first period of my life where I’ve been truly invested in the political happenings in our country and in our world, but right now everything seems to be a little off. Anger stews in the American society’s pot ready to boil over as different racially charged topics are addressed in our media.
As we sat at dinner my father told me that all across the South, and now all across the United States, Americans are calling for the removal of statues deemed offensive. These statues are commemorations of the individuals who fought during the civil war for the Confederate Army. I thought to myself this has to be an absurd joke, but sure enough the story is front and center on CNN. I then watched another news show where the topic was the possible removal of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson statues because these men both owned slaves.
The claim is that the statues are offensive and any individual who owned slaves, or fought for the right to own slaves, should not be commemorated.
I think what this country needs right now is a little dose of respect, a little dose of reality, a little dose of reflection. How dare anyone who is a citizen of this country ask for a statue of one of our founding fathers to be torn down, or even worse, to threaten to tear down or destroy the statues themselves. How dare anyone question the validity of the men who fought to create this great country when it could have easily cost them their families, their livelihoods, their futures. This is ignorance. This country would not be standing here today if it weren’t for those men.
Yes they did own slaves, and yes that was wrong. It always has been and always will be. But let us take a moment to remember that slavery was not a crime of humanity committed only by white, American men. Slavery was also committed by those in Europe, and by those who took prisoners of war. The concept of slavery was nothing revolutionary then, nor was it before their time. The practice of slavery was a practice known to the first civilizations.
So again, let me reemphasize here, these statues, those you deem to be so offensive, commemorate great men, who did more for this country than any of us can even begin to possibly understand. It’s awful and horrible and abdominal that slavery is a facet of their remembrance, but let us not destroy our country’s history because men made mistakes during their time on this earth that were not even considered mistakes during the period of time that they were alive.
Destroying these statues, tearing them down, kicking them, it doesn’t change what happened. If we tear these down, what’s next? Do we tear down every piece of symbolic oppression in this huge world because in someway we believe it closes the wound we feel for those ancestors of ours? Do we demand as Christians that the coliseum be torn down because at one point Christians were persecuted there? Do we tear down the Great Wall of China, or many other wonders of the world, because those too were constructed through the work of slave labor? Or does the Jewish community demand the destruction of Auschwitz, and the other concentration camps, where their race underwent the horrifying circumstances of genocide?
The answer to any one of those three questions is no.