Be decent and move it

I’ve seen many disgruntled responses to Demetria Mcfarland’s petition to remove the Confederate statue from its current place of honor in Marshall; many of them referring to a loss of “our” history. That’s ironic, because the statue itself is part of a concerted effort in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to rewrite the history of the Civil War and its aftermath. A big chunk of the Civil War history people think they know is a myth.

Do you believe the Civil War was a struggle over states’ rights? I urge you to read Texas’ 1861 Declaration of Cause which details the reasons for secession. It’s easily found on the Texas State Library’s website. The only state right involved was that which permitted the state to enslave human beings. Other seceding states wrote similar declarations, and some of them can be viewed on the website of the American Battlefield Trust.

Do you believe that the majority of slave owners were benevolent and that most slaves were well-treated? As everyone understood at the time, the only way to maintain human slavery is through violence. We should understand that, as well.

What about Reconstruction?

Was it a period of such outrageous behavior on the part of freed black men that the Ku Klux Klan was necessary to protect white society?

Another myth created after the fact to excuse the violent tactics used to ensure continued white supremacy.

Why do we continue to embrace false war history? Much of the credit goes to the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), the group which, not coincidentally, erected Marshall’s statue. UDC set out to rewrite history so the atrocious reality of slavery in the south could be buried. (What better indication could there be that the immorality of slavery was well understood at the time?)

The statue might look like an innocent reminder of the sacrifices made, but in reality it is a monument to white supremacy. It isn’t my intention to malign any current UDC members, as they may be unaware of it, but the organization does have a problematic history.

Although UDC did involve itself in charitable activities such as establishing homes and providing other support for indigent Confederate veterans, much of their early efforts were devoted to revising the war’s narrative and legitimizing the KKK.

They wrote books in praise of the KKK, one of them specifically for children, and erected a monument to them in 1926, in North Carolina. In fact, a past president of the Seattle UDC chapter, who has since left the organization, described UDC in its early years as a de facto women’s auxiliary of the KKK.

As recently as 2018 the UDC was promoting on its website a vision of happy slaves mostly ready and willing to “serve their masters.”

If you want to learn more, I recommend Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy, by Karen L. Cox. It’s well-researched and documented.

You might say that the worst of it was a long time ago and everyone should move on, but it is those opposed to relocating the statue who have made an issue of its history.

So, learn the history behind the statue. The real history.

Then, be decent and move it.

Linda Harber