American Elephants


Tear Them Down, Civil War Generals and Columbus Too! by The Elephant's Child

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Now we seem to have reached the stage of tearing down statues and destroying monuments, for what purpose is not entirely clear. History has become a bad thing, to be ignored or changed to suit more contemporary minds. Since our schools have been doing a lousy job with history anyway, our people don’t seem to know much history. The center of the current rioting is, of course, the American Civil War, fought between the North and the South, and at the heart of things was slavery. The South lost. The Slaves were freed, and slavery became against the law. So why do they seem to be fighting it all over again 169 years later? Statues of Civil War Generals must be torn down, defaced, destroyed. Places named for Civil War generals need to have their names changed, and Nancy Pelosi wants large numbers of the statues in Statuary Hall (I’ve never been there) removed, although they were put there by the states themselves.

Place names: Fort Bragg, and Fort Benning. Quick, can anybody tell me who is honored with these names of military posts, and cities? Does the name Braxton Bragg ring any bells? Thought not. How about Henry L. Benning? How can these be names that must be removed because of their terrible associations if nobody knows who they are and Forts Bragg and Benning are just names, like Sally or Bill? that serve only to distinguish the bearers from Susan and Sam?

Of course Christopher Columbus has been torn down in the last few days as well. I can guarantee that he had nothing to do with the Civil War, so why? I think it’s the vague thought that he was mean to the native Indians, ignoring the wonders of the Columbian Exchange, and the childhood rhyme “In 14 hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That latter verse may be what most kids learned about history in grade school.

Victor Davis Hanson took up the same subject in National Review’s Corner: “On Name Changing and Statue Toppling” . The removal of anything Columbus has been going on longer, but I have no idea what they have in mind. The Nation of Columbia, the Columbia River, Columbia University, and several hundred other things come to mind. Take a moment and look up “The Columbian Exchange” if you are unfamiliar with it.

As I have said, and so many other have said, history is the record of what happened. And for that matter a record of the order in which things happened. If tractors and plows had been developed much earlier, the South would have had no need for slaves to produce their cotton crops for British mills. Remember, it was the British that really started the elimination of slavery when they banned the Atlantic slave trade, and set the Royal Navy to work to stop it..

It’s clear that what must change is a little more attention to the curriculum in our schools. They are doing a lousy job with history, and the historical ignorance out there is having a major effect on politics and our understanding of the world. Hillsdale College offers some free online classes in history, especially American history. If we don’t understand where we have been, and how we have progressed and why, we’re going to make a mess of the future.

I don’t believe that tearing down statues, changing the names of military bases, or re-fighting the Civil War, the War Between the States, will improve the lives of our Black citizens in  the slightest. We have created many programs, opened many doors and clearly, more is needed. Charter schools seem to be doing a good job, but I guess it’s teachers’ unions who fight against them. Perhaps the most important example was the young black kid in Columbus Ohio, who was written up recently for walking 3 miles every day to the public library that offered homework help. He has been offered admission to 12 different colleges, including the one he most wants to attend.




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