Thursday, June 25, 2015

Erasing History

    I do not watch or listen to the news much, but sometimes it is hard to avoid the headlines.  In the past year/s there have been an increase in news reports of police brutality, specifically towards "black" people.  Most recently, an attack on a predominately "black" church.  Along with this is a influx of people (political leaders) saying we need to deal with racism: delete specific words or phrases from our speech, be more inclusive, do away with stereotypes, etc.  Ban the Confederate flag.  Demolish the Confederate memorial carving from Stone Mountain.  

    Before I get to my point, let me preface by saying that racism is bad and just plain moronic.  Slavery was bad and should have never happened.  (Though historians will neglect to teach that Africans were initially enslaved by their own people, a trend that was later picked up by Europeans.)  I do not, nor have I ever, thought that any human should be judged based on the color of their skin.  The same applies for gender.  

    Now, horrible and tragic things have happened in human history.  As Americans, our country has seen and continues to have less than stellar moments.  Those moments in time that we look back and wish that we could try again to do it right, to correct those mistakes.  We cannot though.  What we can do is teach our history to our children and grandchildren.  We can show them how humans went wrong, and how to live better.  In order to do that, we have to keep that history fresh in our memories.  Hiding from it isn't going to help.  Pretending it didn't happen will not change anything.  How are we supposed to learn?  

   There are a couple of petitions out right now trying to order the ban of Confederate flags and removal of the Confederate memorial carving.  Why?  Because it's offensive.  I say, that in doing this, you become the ostrich with it's head stuck in the sand.  Pretend it didn't happen.  Well guess what?  It did.  And it was horrible.  Now some people see the monument and say this war happened and we lost.  A lot of people died fighting for something that they believed in.  Whether it was right or wrong, they fought for it.  Never forget.  Others look at that same monument and say "this is a battle we won.  We fought for freedom for all and won.  Never forget."

    Consider the 9/11 memorial in New York.  Where two towering buildings once stood, is now a memorial hole in the ground, with a reflection pool.  Some might say, "look here:  Something horrible happened here and a lot of people lost their lives.  We, as Americans, came together in a dark time of our history and stood in solidarity against those who would see our country crumble.  We must never forget".   Yet, someone else might look at that memorial and say "this is when we struck.  This is when we fought to take down America, for all their 'freedoms' ".  Does anyone look at that memorial and say "This offends me.  Take it down."  

    Yes, I just compared the two events as being on the same level.  Just let that roll around in your head for a moment.  We cannot erase these moments from our history.  They are there.  Taking down a monument or memorial is not going to help us move forward.  The hate will still be there.  Only, when a few generations have passed, nobody will remember why they were taught to be angry in the first place.  They will hate for hate's sake.  It's like, why do women shave their legs?  I don't know.  Because our mothers shaved their legs.  Because our grandmothers shaved theirs.  But why?  Who said we should shave our legs?  What is the purpose?  Where and when did it begin?  I'd be willing to bet that this was not taught at home or school.  Just a social norm that you blindly accepted and went along with.  Never questioning it.  And so it goes.

No comments: