Letters: 9/7/17

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Remove Confederate statues

A great deal of public attention is being focused upon whether statues of Confederate leaders should be taken down or allowed to stand. Defenders of the statues state that they represent symbols of their heritage. When I first heard this, my initial reaction was “Really?!” So, I looked into it, and I now understand that the statues certainly are symbols of a particular Southern heritage, and it is for this very reason that they should be taken down from their public locations.

Immediately after the Civil War, only a few small monuments to fallen soldiers were placed in cemeteries. In fact, few monuments or statues were erected until the 1890s through 1920, when hundreds of statues went up. As the Southern states rebuilt their economies from the devastation of the war, they passed Jim Crow laws, which reduced African-Americans to second-class citizens under the yolks of an American form of apartheid and white supremacy. It was a time when “free” black residents of the former Confederate states suffered significant road blocks to voting, intense job discrimination, horrifying violence, lynchings and conflicts with hate groups like the KKK. Black soldiers returning from World War I hoped to gain respect and rights after giving so much in the war effort, but were crushed by Jim Crow laws. 

Several organizations, most notably the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), aggressively and successfully lobbied cities and towns in the South to erect statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the Confederacy in public locations. These popped up in town squares, popular parks and city hall buildings in most major Southern cities. The UDC based their arguments for erecting the statues on the notion of a so-called Lost Cause, a revisionist history that the Confederacy was really a noble defense of states’ rights with little acknowledgement of slavery. States who joined the Confederacy believed that slavery should be allowed if a state or Western territory wanted it, and they were willing to leave the United States to assert their perceived right to make those decisions.

White supremacy is neither true nor moral. It was wrong during times of slavery, it was wrong during the era of Jim Crow, it was wrong during the Civil Rights movement, and it’s wrong today. President Trump is wrong to speak in the code of white supremacists.  White Southerners erected the statues for the sole purpose of asserting their persisting domination over African-Americans. However, we are a pluralistic society where no one race is supreme. If the statues represent the heritage of a failed Southern white supremacist society, then it is the appropriate time to take them down. Contact your members of Congress and tell them to support legislation that takes down these symbols of extremism.

Kenneth Nova/Boulder

What about Colorado’s
monuments?

A movement to remove statues and other memorials commemorating the Confederacy, and thus white supremacism, is sweeping the nation, particularly the South. This is long overdue.

What about Colorado? At our capitol sits a statue honoring the perpetrator of the Sand Creek Massacre. In 1864, Colonel John Chivington’s troops attacked a Colorado camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho, killing around 200 mostly women, children and the elderly — as agreed upon by historians. Why does Colorado continue to honor a racist, mass murderer, to treat him like a hero? Let’s do what’s long overdue here at home: Chivington’s statue must go.

Paul Dougan/Boulder

More to learn from cover

When I first read this letter [Re: “Your cover is offensive,” Letters, Aug. 31, 2017], I felt that it was written by an environmentalist with an over-the-top imagination trying to make those of us who have worked in the oil fields look like we are all reactionary, ill-informed supporters of Mr. Trump. Some are, and possibly this letter is from one of them, but I am suspicious. I worked in the oil fields for over 20 years and most workers I knew were hard-working, respectable men; few women in the oil patch at the time.

However, many workers have given up on both major political parties. That is true. The person who created this letter seems to continue believing in the Republican party, but most workers, if they vote anymore at all, vote for the lesser of two evils because it is obvious, especially since Citizens United, that both parties have drifted toward Wall Street, where big contributions are easy if your vote increases their profits. 

So an oil field worker may have written this letter. Trump made promises to turn Washington D.C. upside-down, to improve conditions for working folks, to stop illegal immigration from flooding the labor market, to rub the noses of those of us who want to stop the thoughtless destruction of our planet, in the dirt. All those things are music to the ears of people who feel less and less secure in their employment and less likely to be able to feed their children every day. The fact that Mr. Trump is gaming them even better than the Republicans and Democrats do, is not yet on their radar screen. They are scared, losing hope and willing to gamble even if it may be on a fraud. When we liberals attack those who frack, this author is correct; we may be hypocrites. In the oil fields, men work long, dangerous, thankless hours on non-union jobs to supply us with the ability to fly to Europe or Mexico on vacations, drive our cars a thousand miles to conferences to “End Fracking,” and supply us with hundreds of products we don’t even think about. There is plenty of room for change on all sides of this debate. Will you or I stop driving our cars? Live without natural gas?

We need to give this author’s anger and criticism some thought. We will not prevent the global warming that causes these ever more powerful hurricanes bashing the Gulf Coast and the forest fires destroying our trees until we are all willing to make some sacrifices and be willing to sit down to talk, face-to-face, as brother and sister. I know and respect both sides of this food fight intimately. It won’t be as easy as making insults can be, but knowing both sides for over 20 years, I think it could be done if the corporations would allow us to get together.

Gary Cox/Lafayette