I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
My mother came from Texas, so I guess that makes me a son of the South. Though I never lived there, I have a genetic affection for it.
I’ll never forget Davy Crockett going down swinging Ol’ Betsy against the Mexicans who took the Alamo, though in my memory Davy is the spitting image of Fess Parker. I’m puffed with pride about what I think it means to be a Texas Ranger — the one who carries a Colt instead of a bat. Even the sight of a Texas cottonwood fills me with a nostalgia unrelated to actual experience.
Texas forever. I believe in that, if only in tribute to my long dead mother.
But I don’t believe in exalting the heroes of the South who fought to preserve an institution that degraded human beings and made them chattel. I don’t believe in reminding the victims of slavery — and their ancestors are just as much victims of that horror as the men, women, and children who wore the chains — of their ongoing oppression with statues that honor their oppressors.
We don’t typically erect statues to men and women on the wrong side of history. We remember and study them in our history books, but we don’t sculpt monuments to them. I can’t remember the last time I saw a pigeon roosting on the shoulder of Benedict Arnold, Tokyo Rose, or Robert Hanssen. Overseas, there aren’t many statutes erected to the memory of Adolf Hitler, though many of the very fine people singled out by President Trump at Charlottesville wish we could put up a few here.
Just as this American president likes to see the good in our white supremacists, of course we all might endeavor to see the good in everyone. Benedict Arnold was a brilliant soldier. Tokyo Rose had a pleasant radio voice. Adolf Hitler totally loved his dog Blondi.
Robert E. Lee, the greatest hero of the South, had so many fine qualities.
But Robert E. Lee, and every hero of the Confederacy, committed treason against the United States of America, in defense of an indefensible cause.
It’s a few minutes past time we sons of the South — and maybe one President of the United States — stop honoring them for it.