When you look at history, you need to remember that you are a traveler in a strange land. The values and things we take for granted today may be very different from the values and things taken for granted at the time you are looking at. We also need to be very wary of people who try to rewrite history or remove parts of our history. Our history is our history–we can’t change it. We can learn from it, but we can’t change it.
Stone Mountain Park is Georgia is considered the “Confederate Rushmore.” The park includes an educational documentary “The Battle for Georgia – a History of the Civil War in Georgia.” The park is an education center dedicated to a very unhappy chapter in American history. Part of that history is the Confederate Battle Flag.
Yesterday Yahoo News posted an article about a request for a boycott of Stone Mountain Park in Georgia:
Democratic state Representative LaDawn Blackett Jones this week urged people to stay away from the park 10 miles (16 km) east of Atlanta because it flies three flags of the pro-slavery Confederacy alongside the U.S. and Georgia state flags.
Bobbie Smith of Fitzgerald, Georgia, who was camping at Stone Mountain with her family, called the boycott call “just stupid.”
Now let’s look at that statement for a minute and put it into context. Britain abolished slavery in the 1830’s. Slavery remained legal in many countries of the world until the end of the 20th Century. It is now technically illegal in all countries, although it is still practiced in some countries in some form with a different name. Before we talk about the ‘pro-slavery Confederacy,’ we need to consider that although slavery is a horrible thing, it was acceptable behavior in many circles at the time. Would the Representative have described 19th Century England as pro-slavery England? To deny that part of America’s history or to try to gloss over it is to deny where we have been.
The article further reports:
The park is on state land and run by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Spokesman John Bankhead said, “People on both sides of the issue say it (the flag) belongs in a museum. Here in Georgia, the Stone Mountain Park serves as that.”
The park is known as the “Confederate Mount Rushmore” for its 90-foot-tall (27-meter-tall) relief sculpture of three Confederate figures – President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The park describes it as the largest high relief sculpture in the world.
The thing we need to remember here is that the Confederacy was not evil. It practiced slavery, which was wrong, but accepted at the time. The Confederate States fought a war with the United States to preserve their way of life–not to take territory. The Confederacy is part of America’s heritage. Hopefully we have learned from the mistake made in accepting slavery and have done a better job of treating all Americans equally. Meanwhile, the hysteria about the Confederate battle flag is a bit overblown. One wonders what is behind the effort to erase this part of America’s history.