Tear ’em down. Tear ’em all down. Just Remember that when Mobs Rule Anarchy Wins.

22

August 17, 2017 by gregrabidoux2013

 

confederate statues durham

Mob mentality coming to a city near you.

 

As a transplanted Yankee I confess I have mixed feelings about all the Confederate Statues dotting the South,

On the one hand, as I have blogged before, I think that far too many Southerners re-enact and re-live the Civil War far too often. It’s as if each time they re-enact their emotions get stirred up again and again as if the war just ended like, say, yesterday. The outcome stays the same but the anger never seems to fully subside. Or old wounds heal.

 

confederate statues reenactments

This time it’ll be different.

 

On the other hand, I always get real concerned when mob mentality and not democracy seems to rule the day.

If communities engage in civil discourse and debate and then decide, peacefully, that this general or that general or this politician or that politician statue must go, well, seems like their prerogative.

But I do resent when angry mobs take that decision out of the hands of the many and into the wrath and anarchy of the few.

There is also something troubling and deeply disturbing though when angry groups, whether on the Left (like Antifas, Never Trumpers or BLM) or on the Right (like Neo-Nazis, KKK or WS) are seemingly bent on eradicating history. We have watched in other countries during times of violent upheavals, coups and even full-fledged revolution that first, all symbols of the hated regime or painful past are destroyed. Then, it’s on to rewriting the history books that are not burned, destroying archives, libraries and museums found to be offensive or “dangerous” and then completing the unholy trinity follows indoctrinating youth to the “new truth” and the “new way.”

 

confederate statues KKK statue.jpg.jxr

What if no one showed up to listen or pay attention to these clowns? Tough to start a fire without a spark.

 

A couple of years ago I wrote an article about the South and its legacy regarding the Civil War and Confederate past. It is more complex than what the media is framing it as-It’s not just about slavery. For a number of Southerners the statues of Generals like Lee or Jefferson Davis represent what they view as courage and leadership in the face of Yankee or Northern aggression. For others, of course it is a symbol of suppression and slavery. Still, for some, these statues represent the founders and civic leaders of places they have always called home like Savannah, Atlanta, or Tuscaloosa.

 

confederate statues gen lee

Up until a few days ago no one even seemed to pay attention to me or my statues. But I’ve been here all the time.

 

So, sure, tear down the statues, tear down the monuments. Tear down, burn and destroy every historical artifact that you find offensive or troubling. Just let’s use our peaceful and democratic processes in place to do so if that’s what we collectively decide.

But a word or two of caution.

Mob rules actually have none. And anarchists are never satisfied.

 

confederate statues book burning

Who or what is next?

 

George Washington, while he eventually disavowed owning slaves certainly did at one time own slaves. Ditto for Thomas Jefferson. Former Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, one of Hillary Clinton’s stated mentors was a former member of the KKK. His statue sits perched in the Hall of Heroes in our US Capitol. Dr. Martin Luther King opposed same-sex marriage.

Judging all of these folks by contemporaneous standards, and excluding all of the other achievements each made during their lifetimes then seems to dictate that their statues and monuments all be destroyed, does it not?

Banished. Vanquished. Made so none of what they ever did or thought has to ever again offend any of us or take up even one inch of our public space.

So sure tear’ em down. Tear ’em all down.

Just let’s remember that the history you never learn, forget or destroy is in fact the very history you then are inevitably ensuring you will relive.

And I for one don’t want to see that day arrive anytime soon.

In the wake of the Charlottesville riots it would seem we, the people, have a choice to make.

 

hatred american style flags

No room for both?

 

Will we debate our past as a civil society and make decisions through our chosen peaceful and democratic processes?

Or do we all succumb to the forceful and violent will of mobs whether on the far right or far left covered in masks and armed with weapons and fueled with rage?

Because the more we allow stuff like this to happen in the way it is now happening those “far leftists” and “far rightists” inevitable keep on marching toward the rest of us until there is no right, left or middle.

Just armed mobs dictating how you and I will live, think and act.

 

confederate statues candles statue.jpg.jxr

No weapons or outward rage, no bats, clubs or knives, no beatings. But man, is this protest inherently powerful.

 

My prayers go out to the family of the young woman who was senselessly killed in Charlottesville.

May peace and civility rule our days not violence and mob mentality.

bengal-tiger-why-matter_7341043

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Tear ’em down. Tear ’em all down. Just Remember that when Mobs Rule Anarchy Wins.

  1. Shannon H says:

    As a 10th generation southerner, I think there is a difference between remembering the past, keeping alive important history, honoring the fallen on every side, vs. believing the Confederacy should have won. I think most Sourherners have been making that important distinction for a long long time.

    Robert E Lee was President Lincoln’s first choice to lead the Federal Army. From the time if the Revolution to the mid 1800s people considered themselves first and formost a citizen of their state and then their country. Like most soldiers, General Lee could not in good conscience fight against his own state, but neither did he want civil war.

    After the horrific war, these statues, moments, and remembrances were a way to bring both sides together, including those who were innocently caught up in many of the scorched earth policies of the war. They were acts that helped to heal and unify the nation. In large part, they worked. And in large part these monuments are a testament to a nation brought to the brink of destruction and yet healed into a more perfect union.

    • Adora B says:

      I’m a daughter of the Confederacy. I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’m even a Nashville native. I honor Robert E. Lee who wanted NO statues of himself or remembrances of a civil war.
      I think civil war statues are appropriate in museums. They are not appropriate as state symbols. Unless some state isn’t part of the Union. And far as I know, they are.
      I would like to see unifying statues throughout the U.S. what might it mean if we all lived by statues of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Truman, Eisenhower, Indian Chiefs, Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, authors who changed our world, Martin Luther King … I could go on but you see what I mean. There are people who unify us and there are people who divide us. Even when they abhor the division, over 100 years later, like Robert E. Lee.

      • Shannon H says:

        Well, actually by the same standard Robert E Lee’s statue should be removed, so does any reference to FDR. He put the entire Japanese American population into internment camps. The statues of MLK would need to go. He was a Baptist preacher and opposed gay marriage. Oh, that darn White House and the US Capital needs to be demolished, it was built in part by slave labor. Since the Native Americans traded slaves, even before the arrival of western colonists, any reference or monuments to them needs to go. Truman paid the $10 joining fee to the KKK and dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, is that sufficient to exclude him from historical recognition? Lincoln was against the institution of slavery, but publicly stated his opposition to social or political equality between blacks and whites. How does that balance out? And of course, technically speaking, Hitler was an ‘author who changed our world’. Statue to him or no?

  2. D M B says:

    Being from New York, what happens in the south is all most as if something is happening in another country to me. I don’t know if it’s the media, human nature, or some other conspiracy that had lead to the overall thought of a dichotomous politic in American. Is being of the independent party even on the ballot anymore? I am a black woman, and that statute doesn’t “trigger” me. I understand that people are entitled to their own opinions and as the stated in the article, an angry mob isn’t going to change those opinions. Also, as a black woman, I am quite aware of racial tension and oppression, yet I don’t find myself willing to join a Black Lives Matter group. Does that make me less black? There are so many perspectives and dialogue on racial relations that I could blog endlessly. Despite how cynical this may be, I all ways wind up to the phrase, “It is what it is.” Some feel as though that this world should be full of good people and good deeds. There will all ways be hate, competitions, haves, and have-nots. Do I appreciate the people who are the conquest to undo all evil? Absolutely, where would this world be with out those people? Yet, I understand that is an impossible task.

    Back to the statue and angry mobs.

    People need to find other things to be passionate about. I’m not saying to ignore the past, but what does the removal of the statue do? Will that undo slavery? Will take down that statue and my doom of being racially profiled? Lastly, future thinking is what is needed. Angry mobs? I don’t see those going away. Humans are barbaric, we need to survive. I am amazed at the power that angry mobs have. It’s a very primitive mechanism, but yet continues to distort reality and install fear, to the point that we do abandon democracy.

  3. Alicia H says:

    I knew it would only be a matter of time before idiots like Al Sharpton went after Washington and Jefferson which he has and Antifas defaced the Lincoln statue in Chicago. What lunacy! The Dems can keep focusing in refighting the civil war while Trump creates jobs.

  4. Ashley C says:

    I too have mixed feelings about the statues. I feel as if they are a part of history and shouldn’t be destroyed. As someone who appreciates history and people’s abilities to craft amazing things, I don’t feel we should destroy anything from the past. However, given the intent, meaning, and overall expression of the specific statues. I do believe they should be removed. No symbol of hatred or intentional oppression should remain on display in public places. A museum would be much more suitable. This is especially true with the ideas of “if we don’t study our history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
    I recently read an article about how in the Caribbean islands there are no statues for those who supported slavery or fought in the wars. No, the statues in these places represent freedom from slavery.

    As a nation, as the people, I feel we have no choice but to choose democracy. We must peacefully protest. Silence is often times much louder. A fantastic example being the NAACP Silent Protest Parade of 1917.

    I also agree with D M B. People need to find other things to be passionate about. Imagine if all the energy, news coverage, research, comradery, ect were put to more important things like finding a cure for HIV/AIDS or cancer. We might actually accomplish something.

  5. Levi says:

    I was intrigued by the opening of your article, because that’s a very good observation. Civil War re-enactments are somewhat prevalent. I know of one that takes place every year. While most of the festival is a place for people to go to booths set up by food vendors and many artisans sell their goods, the center or finale of the event is a battle re-enactment. To an extent I can see why some Southerners may want to celebrate notable southern figures, but I think there are many more Southern icons whom are worthier of such pomp.
    I think that the most key point you made was asking where does it end. Is it a slippery slope to say that removing Confederate statues will lead to more statues being removed, such as the president suggested? Most every notable figure in history, not just American, has something in their past that some may find offensive. But on the flip side, how much are we willing to overlook and who deserves to be honored? I don’t have these answers, nor do I believe a singular source can be allowed to answer them. It is up to the citizens to have an open and reasonable discourse to decide what ought to be done with these objects.
    I’m rather neutral, I never gave much attention to the statues’ existence. I would walk by them unaware of what or who they represented. It would not surprise me if the majority of others were unaware as well. If anything, the recent media attention has illuminated statues that are dilapidating in the darkened corners of America’s parks and public squares.

  6. Gwen M. says:

    I must admit, I don’t normally find myself drawn to topics of politics. However, the recent “reality show” we call media has somehow managed to make the topic of your article (as well as other topics of conflict and opposition) the top story of the day…every day. I can only compare it to that one song that you really don’t care for the first time you hear it on the radio, but find yourself singing the hook because they play it twenty times a day. I make the comparison because I wonder how many people calling for statues to be removed really know the history of the statue. Do they know the historical relevance? Do they know why they — not the guy leading the march or the guy marching on the left and right — are emphatic that the statues must be removed? And, if the statues must go because of what they represent, where was this passion for the action a year ago, two years ago? I ask these questions not as supporter of a particular side, but because I wonder where the line will be drawn. I agree with the writer who said there must be a better way to channel our energy. Perhaps more listening and less talking would serve us all well.

  7. Elizabeth B says:

    I agree with the content of this blog. I was born and raised in South Georgia and all my life I have been surrounded by such contradictions in southern society, the preservation of Southern history or removal of monuments to those that have been oppressed. Certainly this dichotomy in thought is born out of the differing experiences some individuals have had in America, specifically the South. Hearing many individuals on the anti-monument stance plead the case for removal is compelling. Some individuals have made this connection: imagine being a Jewish born child walking through the streets of Germany only to see various statues of Nazi Gestapo or Hitler. The same can be said for minority children growing up and living under the shadows of once oppressive leaders erected as proud statues and monuments in southern states. Generational trauma can be real and in some instances, these statues are not reveled in a historical manner. As we see the neo-nazi’s mention loudly in Charlottesville with their hate speech filled chants, that these statues have a deeper intrinsic meaning, symbolizing for them the oppression that once was and in their hateful opinions, should still be. To further the connections many have drawn over this debacle, these monuments drew out Neo-Nazi groups to defend them–with their Nazi flags and Nazi salutes. Imagine the Jewish and minority children seeing these displays on American soil knowing just what they mean historically…over a statue.
    My opinion on the matter is, because mob mentality is tearing these monuments down causing chaos in cities all over the south, some state or city should volunteer to establish some sort of museum to take these statues or monuments or artifacts to, such as a Southern Regional Historical Museum. Possibly? This would take these statues out of idolizing view of some of these so called patriots, and place them in a place of significance that can be observed if wished. This way all sides of the argument can be met, and would not lead to the destruction of history that once was and needs to be learned from.

  8. CDN Aaron B says:

    I am not American, but like many northern neighbours I am unable to escape the current news cycle and the debate that it creates.

    In Canada our internal war the French vs. British has ended with some similar outcomes. In Quebec there is a saying on their license plate ‘Je Me Souviens’ which translates to I remember.

    This sentiment translates to similar outcomes that I observe in the US.: radical separatist groups, rare acts of violence that can end in tragedy, revival of old rhetoric, all in the name of preservation of culture. The reality is that the group that is on the losing side of civil conflict and remain in the region have a difficult identity crisis to overcome.

    The ‘losers’ have lost more than the war. They have lost loved ones and their own heroes to war. They are descendants of those people and to ask them to forget, or denounce that history is complex.

    In Quebec they have marches and holidays and statues. There have been times when there have been referendums to leave the country of Canada that fail by the slimmest of margins.

    How can Southern US find their own path to celebrate their history and acknowledge their families’ sacrifices without it escalating into racist rhetoric? I don’t have the answer. But I don’t necessarily feel that the answer is to exacerbate division. There needs to be a balance where racism is denounced. That was the wrong side. It isn’t debatable. However, it can’t be ignored either.

    The debate should be looking to find that place where people can celebrate the positives about their heritage and it enable the conversation about denouncing the negative. Finding ways to celebrate should also enable the opportunity to highlight where the modern day has made inroads and progress at eradicating these historical conditions.

    Sadly, the current climate is really only reenacting the horrible and whipping up the mob mentality that caricatures all sides of the debate.

  9. Kacie F says:

    I live in a small town in SW Georgia called Bainbridge. Recently, there have been groups in my community that have insisted that the statue in our town square be removed due to its Confederate heritage. To be honest, until the recent riots, very few people have even noticed the details of the statue. In this square, prom pictures have been taken, weddings have been celebrated, and festivals for people of all races have been held and enjoyed. What is troubling to me is that an isolated group of community members are now rallying in private to tear down a piece of history without a plan to where it will go or what is to replace it. The democratic roots of our society are not being channeled. Rather, there are riots and mobs of people spreading outlandish propaganda and promoting a violent protest. It is extremely difficult to see unfold. I think that you nailed it when you mentioned the mob mentality. I do not mention this situation in order to argue about the statue staying or going. Personally, I do not feel as though removing it will change any mindsets that many in my community have with regard to bigotry or hate. However, if these situations are to continue in an undemocratic manner, then we will surely be left with a Bradbury-like notion of our heritage.

    • Lauren H says:

      Hi Kacie,

      I am also from Bainbridge and as soon as the first monument went down I told my family it would not be long before people began protesting in Bainbridge…and look what we have. I am relieved it has not gone to the next level – but fear that it might.

      As a “yankee transplant” as Dr. Rabidoux also called himself…I kind of have a different view. While I agree with you that before all of the media attention – no one really took issue with the statues in our town square, I still feel that if a statue, signage, etc makes someone feel uncomfortable or oppressed…is it really worth having up? My suggestion to someone was, “Why not put the statue in the museum that is now on the square so that if you want to experience the history you can do that without the expense of ill feelings of others?”

      I don’t know what will come of all this in our small town – but I also agree that all of this won’t remove the culture of bigotry and/or hate that we have. We have to find a way to educate folks so that they can put our history into proper perspective.

      • Kacie F says:

        Lauren,

        I agree with you that if it makes citizens uncomfortable, then it should be addressed. From what I have read both publicly and privately regarding this situation, it seems that there have not been many steps taken by the petitioners to move it but rather just tear it down. Are you talking about the museum on the square to house the statue? If I remember correctly, this is a nonprofit that is the Decatur County Historical and Genealogical Society? I am wondering if this group would be open to allowing the statue to be moved from the outside in front of the building to the inside (given they have the room). Would they not just be setting themselves up for vandalism and more discrimination? Either way, I hope that the situation is handled through the proper channels and that it doesn’t end in violence.

  10. Melissa T says:

    This latest episode of outrage over monuments brings so many thoughts and emotions up. One is that removing monuments will not change history. It is also vandalism to destroy government property. They say that the one thing you can control is your reaction to an action. Violence and vandalism is not taking the high road and is actually stepping backwards in the progress that these leaders worked so hard to overcome.

    Another aspect of this is fed by the anarchist who pay for people to stir up trouble and riot as well as the media coverage that focuses on this. I know for a fact that there have been instances that have occurred prior to the recent media coverage of the monuments that did not spur racial animosity and riots. When the media is focusing on this uprising, it causes even the smallest of towns to face the riots. Last week in Thomas County, there was a riot that called for extensive police protection. These officers are disrespected and local property gets destroyed without any consequences to the vandals. This has to stop. People who commit these crimes, should be punished and arrested. Our right is to protest peacefully. Vandalizing and destroying property is not peaceful protests.

    Consequences should be paid and the media needs to cover less of the negatively fueled actions and riots.

  11. Jessica V says:

    This post is a great extension to a discussion my husband and I were having on the road last week about this situation. I think the responses thus far have illustrated beautifully how there are many different opinions and attitudes about this matter. I agree with Dr. R. that we should be resorting to democratic processes rather than mob mentality to guide action. However, how would we implement that now? Should we start a national committee that explores the history of statues that then offers expert commentary to address all sides of any potential statue or person? Should we leave an issue that has such national implications to state and/or local governments? If so, especially at the city/local level, I’m a bit concerned about how this would play out. Imagine a typical city council of volunteer representatives who likely have little or no training in mediation trying to handle an angry crowd of protestors at a meeting. In states with initiative and referendum, perhaps it could be put to a vote? At this point, for this matter, I’m worried that we’ve potentially passed the point from which democratic processes would be productive.

  12. James B says:

    Dr. Rabidoux,

    I think all history is important whether or not we agree with the politics or ethics of a given period. It is the height of arrogance to superimpose modern values onto events in antiquity. I do not see Italians snatching down Roman monuments and statues despite the violence, slavery, and hedonism so common to the empire. I grew up in the south and rarely hear people discussing the Civil War outside of academia, politics, or the media. I will grant you there are a few “South Will Rise Again” Bubbas out there; however, they are by and large a minority. There are also some people that lament the restriction of state rights following the war and reconstruction.
    The truth is that most people, white, black, brown, spotted, or purple do not care about history. I rarely ever see anyone even come within 12 ft of a statue or monument at a municipal complex unless they have to walk around it. In all honesty, nobody can claim to be offended or inconvenienced by something that most John Q public do not notice until the media slaps them with it.
    I agree with you that tearing down historical reminders is dangerously close to the October Revolutions or the Nazi book burnings. History is a nonrenewable cultural resource. It is simply gone once you burn it, smash it, reteach it, or hide it away in a storage room. How many cultures, religions, and codes of law are lost to the ages because the victors decided their merit. I dare say a group is no longer a dispossessed minority when they can strip away the history of another group.
    I will admit to a certain bias given the fact I possess a B.A. in History. Most historiographers avoid bias in their accounting of events in an almost clinical manner. It is a shame that political actors lack the clinical observational skills with which to observe landmarks, memorials, and statues. I wonder if the people that spit on Vietnam veterans and called them baby killers disapproved of the Vietnam Wall. Perhaps we should all remember everyone is offended or wounded by something. The fact I cannot avoid attorney ads on TV, radio, or print media should attest to such a climate.

    • James, very well put…if more people thought of history, any history as a non-renewable cultural resource perhaps they would choose to learn from it and not feel compelled to destroy it. It does seem true today as in the past, the current news you don’t know is the history you haven’t yet learned.

  13. JAZMIN C says:

    Dr. Rabidoux,

    This is a difficult topic and one that is very sensitive. I have tried very hard to understand the argument of those in support of keeping confederate flags, statues and monuments. While I think history is extremely important, I believe they (flag and statues) should be housed in some museum, somewhere. They could possibly be taken to Stone Mountain and left as a never-ending exhibit.
    As a black American, I could debate about the conferate flag being racist and how hurtful it is to see one flying behind the back of a pickup truck and the fact that a known hate group uses it to inflict pain, but I won’t. What does upset me is seeing that flag fly next to an American flag or looking out the window of a government office and seeing Robert E. Lee’s statue on the front lawn.
    The conferderate flag is a representation of treason. Confederate soldiers killed more than two-hundred thousand Americans. The only other enemy to kill more Americans, were Axis powers. Can you be a patriotic American and fly the confederate flag? Though the battle flag that we seeing flying high throughout the south never officially represented the Confederate State of America, it was used in combat.
    I do believe that for some, the confederate flag symbolizes heritage. I had several friends at ABAC who held that belief. If holding on to something that reminds one of a lost cause, go ahead and keep your participation ribbon.

  14. Christopher Cooke says:

    This is a very similar issue to the flag issue several years ago and in some states, 10-15 years ago. Did the changing of the flag actually change anything? No. There are simply more issues that we need to deal with. I have been watching the news and saw two major hurricanes strike our country. First responders and citizens worked together to rescue people and have proven once again what our country is all about. Nobody that is alive today was born during the Civil War. We don’t need another one today. We have North Korea, Iran, the Taliban, food shortages, and wars all over the continent. We need to work on common problems and develop common goals. You can laugh if you want, but here is a quote from my children’s favorite set of books. “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” -J.K. Rowling. Come on people, let’s get real.

  15. Lucas E says:

    Dr. Rabidoux,

    I echo your sentiment that the democratic process prevails. I also hope that we can remain civil in our discourse. In a perfect world we would not have angry mods on the left, right, or otherwise. We should, in fact, resolve our issues with peaceful protest, awareness, and debate.

    Regarding civil war era statutes, we have plenty. I have very mixed emotions on the issue. My family has been a fixture in the South for a number of generations. In fact, I am a son of the confederacy. I don’t have a membership, but I have relatives that fought for the South in the Civil War on both sides of my family. On my fathers side a relative died in a POW camp in the north. On my mothers side I have a relative that was a guard at Andersonville that saw many young men parish in desperate conditions.

    I don’t condone the Civil War. Both sides of my family were poor in those times neither family to my knowledge had ownership of slaves. But yet they faught for the Southern cause. I don’t know their motives. Their motives aren’t listed in the family Bible. But I’m sure like many who faught, they faught because their state was at war.

    General Lee after the war didn’t want monuments erected and wanted to put the banner of the South away. I have no problem with removing controversial memorials. However, I do think monuments for the dead should remain intact. Most cities in Georgia will have a monument commemorating the dead of the area. Those should stand. Not because those men faught and died for a lost cause, but because those men died. At the time they were not listed as veterans. Legislation concerning those men wasn’t passed until the last man died.

    Confederate statues erected during the civil rights movement should be removed. And the stars and bars should only fly over confederate graves and museums.

    We should take care to remember our history as not to repeat it. But we should also hold democratic hearings to identify the fate of some of those monuments that are questionable. The civil war brought a country together. I hope this debate will have the same effect. We have to stop hating one another. Hate has out to many folks in the ground.

  16. Clint Backstrom says:

    Great post here. Once you allow for the mob to rule you lose control. Somewhere along the way we decided to tell everyone that their opinion meant more than it did and they had the right to bend others to the same view. Too many today could never think that debating without violence could ever occur. Its almost as if we stopped reiterating to our nation that we live in democracy and that we operate on platforms where both sides of argument are brought forth and then a decision is made. Many people around the world must do as they are told or die at the hands of the regime. We have the fairest political and government systems in the world and all we want to do is burn it down. I often wonder when the silent majority of the nation will begin to flex it’s power back towards normalcy, or are we left to speed to anarchy?

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