When the subject is Confederate statuary, the Christianist goes all drippy and sobby over the loss of our precious, precious heritage. When people march under the banner of the swastika to defend that heritage, we are instructed that we need to make careful distinctions between the neo-Nazis and the “very fine people” who are merely there because they Care About History. Admittedly, they don’t care about the part of history that reminds us that the statues were put there in order to enforce Jim Crow and remind a subject population of their place, but still, it’s just so important to preserve our memories of the Confederacy because of… ummmm, state’s rights! Yeah, that it! That’s the ticket!
Okay, fine. I’m all for remembering history. But since history includes the fact that the right those states were fighting for was, above all, the right to own other humans like cattle and to beat them like dogs, it seems to me important to remember that as well.
This is why the 1619 Project matters. Yet, the very people who are so passionate about preserving our precious, precious Confederate heritage are the ones who want to bury the memory of 400 years of oppression.
Look, you want to tell me about the Noble South and the brilliance of Lee and Jackson at Chancellorsville and how the slaves jus’ loved theyah massahs who treated them so right then let’s hear from the slaves’ descendants, shall we? Because what they want to hear is white people finally stop telling them to ‘get over it’ and say clearly and without equivocation:
“Here’s what we did: we hunted you. We trapped you. We tore you from your mother’s arms and called you cargo.
“We beat you. We put you in a crouch under an all-day sun and deformed you. We forbid you to read. We lashed your skin with salted leather if you read, or dared to stand up. We took your son from the arms of his mother, and burned you alive if you protested. We murdered you. …
“We wrote laws in these buildings forbidding your grandchildren to vote, or read or keep a family together or enter the buildings they built. We mocked them for not being able to do those things. We dared your grandchildren to vote, or love, or read. We drowned them or hung them when they tried to do those things. We told stories of their ignorance and wickedness when they didn’t try.
“We drew lines around your great-grandchildren’s water fountains and bus seats, bright red-lines around their neighborhoods, to keep our money out. We taunted your great grandchildren with dreams. We told them what to dream, then mocked them for dreaming those dreams …
“We pretended to not understand your great grandchildren. We wondered what their problem was, and we murdered them. We murdered them by crooking our fingers, for putting their hands in their pockets.
“And we wanted you to get over it.”
A reader remarks: “Here’s the thing. The Germans as a whole, reject their racist past while Americans try to sweep theirs under the rug. The Germans went to rehab. Americans still hide bottles of racism in the linen closet while denying they have a problem.”
But it’s all so long ago!
Oh. You mean like the Confederacy? Yes. But funnily enough, our history affects today, which is why the Germans so loudly denounced their Nazi past while we are still enslaved to ours: