“Next to the destruction of the Confederacy, the death of Abraham Lincoln was the darkest day the South has ever known.” –Jefferson Davis
The former Confederate president’s quotation ten years after the end of the Civil War about his rival has been interpreted as that with Lincoln’s death, any chance of a more amiable return of the southern states to the Union had perished with him across the street from Ford’s Theater.
The martyred president’s southern successor proved to be a mere speed bump for forces seeking to inflict even greater punishment on the burned out rebellious region as the task of Reconstructing the devastated south was assumed by radical Republican congressional leaders seething with vengeance and salivating over the prospect of wanton plunder.
The decade of Reconstruction would cripple the region’s economy and sow the seeds of Jim Crow policies that would be implemented by former Confederates once the undemocratic state and local governments retreated in the baggage train of the Union soldiers who kept them in office.
I would argue that the second darkest day in the history of the South was not the fall of the Confederacy, which preserved the Union and marked the death knell of slavery, but when Dylan Roof visited the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston during a Bible study and proceeded to kill black church members, for on that night the disturbed Roof claimed nine lives and the heritage of an entire region.
Roof was hoping to exploit the national racial tensions heightened by the media’s sensationalist coverage of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown in order to initiate a race war, yet it was Roof and his murderous actions that have been exploited by the political Left and the media to vilify the South and create an environment of political hysteria to redefine long standing symbols of the region, expunge them from public view and brand their defenders as bigots.
I don’t know what is worse: that Democrats and their partners in the established media have gotten away with making the Confederate flag an “accomplice” in the shootings or that so many politicians, public figures and social commentators who know better have collaborated with an effort that has gone beyond the total removal of a banner that had already been relocated from the roof of the State Capitol as part of a compromise from 15 years ago as part of a compromise that apparently one party had no intention of honoring in the long term.
Since South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the flag to be removed from the capitol grounds, politicians across the south launched a campaign to scrub other monuments and memorials to the Confederacy.
Republican governor Robert Bentley of Alabama gave an order to take down the Confederate flag from the front of the building that had once served as the first national capital of the CSA, under the justification that the rebel flag could distract him from his work stating that “I have taxes to raise”.
Now THAT is a statement.
Perhaps Governor Bentley will double-down on his absurd reasoning by declaring only admirers of Dylan Roof would dare oppose his revenue increases if things get iffy.
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is reportedly auditioning for a cabinet secretary spot in the Hillary Clinton administration, had to do something more ambitious than Bentley’s lame gesture.
Since the Confederate flag does not fly over any public property in Orleans Parish, Landrieu declared war on three large Confederate monuments in the city and a largely out of sight obscure post-Civil War memorial: the statue of Robert E. Lee atop the pillar in the downtown roundabout dedicated to the South’s most prominent general; the equestrian statue of New Orleans native P.G.T. Beauregard outside of City Park; the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis along the parkway that bears his name; and the oft-vandalized Battle of Liberty Place monument commemorating the Reconstruction era skirmish.
In the case of the latter, the city attempted to “shelve” the monument but was forced to re-erect it after losing a lawsuit on the matter.
The city has memorials to other Confederate personages that have inexplicably escaped Landrieu’s wrath- though I suppose one does not secure a speaking role at the 2016 Democratic National Convention by tipping over Albert Pike’s more modest monument.
Finally, there is the Memphis city council, which has truly decided to mimic the ISIS tomb-smashers, by adopting a resolution calling for removing the statue and disinterring the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife from a Memphis park that was once named for one of the Confederacy’s most controversial generals.
The actions of the New Orleans and Memphis city governments will likely be tied up in the courts for some time but they serve as examples of the crass utilization of a tragedy by city Democrats to achieve a political end (vilification of the new red “Solid South”) at the expense of historical preservation.
The bowdlerization of all things Confederate and by extension southern is the “noble reaction” the left has manufactured in the wake of the Charleston shooting, however a much better story has largely been ignored.
The murderous Roof was apprehended thanks to Debbie Dills, a white florist who had spotted the fleeing shooter in North Carolina and followed Roof for 35 miles while passing information along to law enforcement at considerable risk to herself.
In light of the ugly mob reaction to Ferguson and Baltimore, which had served as catalysts for Roof’s rampage, broadcasting the narrative of a white woman assisting police in the capture of a white supremacist murderer would have contributed towards societal healing, greater trust between whites and blacks, and demonstrated colorblindness in the pursuit of justice, that the “system” is not rigged against minorities.
America would benefit more from the latter than the controversial removal of historic monuments.