The argument I make against the removal of monuments to Confederate notables is not in support of the Confederacy, white supremacy or slavery, it has a more basic, fundamental root.
My argument is that of the right to free speech and the freedom of thought that precedes speech. Assume that a friend of mine agrees with me that slavery was an abomination and yet when he looks at a statue o Robert E. Lee, all he sees is a celebration of slavery and oppression but I see a man who loved the United States, a graduate of West Point who turned down a command in the Army of the North but and took up the banner of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in loyalty to his family and home state.
What this comes down to is an official sanction of a particular thought and view of history by government. It is saying that my friend’s perspective is the only legitimate perspective and should be promoted by coercive force of government.
This is dangerous for many reasons – but the primary reason is related to what Orwell wrote in “1984”: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” Destruction of the past renders a populace ignorant and dependent on the dictates of authority – which in this case is government.
As an example, we all know how the American progressive left venerates Woodrow Wilson but how many know that Wilson was a virulent racist who re-segregated the American military? How many know that after Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke, the United States was essentially run by Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Wilson, who was from a family of staunch supporters of the Confederate States of America. Former slave owners, the Bolling family “believed their former slaves were content with life on Rose Cottage Plantation and had little desire for freedom”.
Yet, the only thing I learned about Wilson in American History classes was that he was a great president who conceived the League of Nations. That he hated the Constitution is just a bonus for the progressive left because they share that feeling but this racism and anti-constitutionality is rarely talked about.
If Lee is repulsive to some, should not Wilson be treated in a similar manner because he is also repulsive to others? Destruction of history also destroys historical context – it is a method of postmodernist deconstruction and is nothing but an attempt to destroy the foundations of American culture.