In states across the Old South, left-wing protesters targeted Confederate statues and monuments Monday in the wake of a white nationalist rally that took place Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Charlottesville rally, which saw protesters and counterprotesters violently clash and left one woman dead and 20 other people wounded, spurred the Left to redouble its efforts to wipe out any commemoration of Southern figures from the Civil War.
Black-clad Antifa protesters and Black Lives Matter activists convened in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park Sunday night to spray-paint a statue of a Confederate soldier while chanting slogans bashing President Donald Trump.
The offending statue depicted a Confederate soldier relinquishing his weapon at the conclusion of the Civil War’s Reconstruction period. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Antifa activists surrounded the lone police officer on the scene while shouting “pig” at him.
Dr. Lee Cheek, dean of the School of Social Sciences at East Georgia College, and a senior fellow of the Alexander Hamilton Institute in New York, told LifeZette in an email that “the events in Charlottesville have no connection to understanding the political traditions of the American South, and everything to do with battles among professional ideologues without any attachment or knowledge of the historical situation.”
“The American Left and opportunistic politicos in America are attempting to use these events throughout the South to advance their political agenda,” Cheek said. “The extreme ideological activists on the Left and the Right — both in Charlottesville and on the national scene — purposefully conflate recent events with any defense of the South. These activists and their financial and academic supporters do not want to engage in a free and uninhibited discussion of the issue.”
The city of Memphis announced plans Monday to sue the state of Tennessee for the removal of two Confederate monuments in response to the Charlottesville violence.
Mayor Catherine Pugh in Baltimore, Maryland, released a statement Monday notifying the city that the Charlottesville rally prompted her to renew her efforts to remove all of Baltimore’s Confederate-era monuments.
Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, announced Saturday he would expedite the city’s plans to remove Confederate statues from Lexington’s former courthouse in response to the Charlottesville protest. In a Facebook post, Gray wrote that he took these actions after he “thoroughly examined this issue, and heard from many of our citizens.”
Dr. Marshall L. DeRosa, a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University and a former Salvatori Fellow with The Heritage Foundation, told LifeZette that this movement to purge the U.S. of key portions of its history and heritage “has been developing for some time,” though it appears to have accelerated in its pace.
“But it just shows short-sightedness because if you read the agenda of these people, once they add the scorched-earth policy to everything Confederate, they’re going after U.S. symbols,” DeRosa said, noting that “there’s talk about tearing down the Jefferson Memorial” and “renaming the White House.”
“Once they get rid of [Robert E.] Lee and the rest of them, they’re going to go after [Ulysses S.] Grant on the Union side, and then they’re going to start after the founding generation,” DeRosa added. “This is a scorched-earth policy, and people just don’t understand what’s going on. It’s rewriting — the eradication of history to remove the historical memory. But once that’s gone, they can put whatever they want in its place.”
Said DeRosa: “This is just one battle that the radicals seem to be winning.”
Cheek said that the progressive Left looks for opportunities to exploit the antics of white nationalist extremists and members of the Alt-Right movement so it can push its own extreme agenda. Noting that it is important to realize that Alt-Right members and white supremacists “have nothing to do with authentic study of American South or of the Civil War,” Cheek lamented that “the closure of public discourse in America allows the Left to link the terrible events in Charlottesville with anything Southern, so as to advance their progressive and politically hegemonic program.”
DeRosa, who wrote the book “The Enduring Relevance of Robert E. Lee: The Ideological Warfare Underpinning the American Civil War,” said that many on the Left willfully choose to misunderstand “what the Confederacy was about.” Noting that many of the Confederacy’s most beloved heroes and generals were personally against slavery, DeRosa said that “the leadership on the Left understands what the consequences are” of attempting to erase history.
“They can tear down those monuments, but they can’t destroy the truth of what those monuments represent. And the phoenix will eventually rise from the ashes. Truth ultimately will prevail,” DeRosa said.
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But Eddie Zipperer, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, told LifeZette in an email that it is about time that “statues glorifying the Confederacy” are torn down throughout the South. Saying that it was time for the country to move on, Zipperer argued that it is possible to both remember and cherish American history while ridding cities of monuments that “glorify” what the Confederacy represented.
“Many people believe the myth that the Civil War was about states’ rights, but it wasn’t. The Civil War was about slavery,” Zipperer said. “The Democratic party tore our country apart when they refused to accept Republican Abraham Lincoln’s election as legitimate, and they formed their own union for the sole purpose of protecting slavery. When I see a Confederate flag, all I see is the Democrat traitor flag.”
Zipperer added: “Certainly, the history should not be forgotten and belongs in our museums, but I don’t care how many statues glorifying the Confederacy they tear down. As far as I’m concerned, they can tear down as many statues of Jefferson Davis as they choose.
“When they start tearing down statues of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or other great Americans — which I’m sure will be the left’s next great ideas — that’s when I’ll be mad.”
DeRosa also criticized members of the far right for contributing to the national controversy, saying that they “shouldn’t idealize and worship” the Confederacy. Noting that “there are provocateurs on both sides,” DeRosa maintained that “violence is the name of the game” for the progressive Left in particular.
“They’ve been talking about violence, and this is their way to bring more attention to themselves. It’s … a very sad state of affairs, and it just shows the failure of leadership for generations now in diffusing this,” he said. “This is ideological warfare, and now it’s turning into physical combat. These are just small skirmishes, but the people of southern heritage are outnumbered, they’re outflanked, and they’re just walking into a trap.”
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