Writing History

There has been a lot of talk in the news these days about statues. Items that are not now nor have they ever actually done anything in life because they have not lived. Pieces are of art are being accused of horrendous acts.

Throughout history and present, statues have been used to remind people passing by the artwork of a person or event of a time past. Nobody ever said that person or event had to be good. A man by the name of George Santayana is credited with the statement, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Statues of Confederate States of America generals and other Southern leaders of that time are being torn down across the United States. Statues of people who did something with which the vocal minority of our current generation disagree are being toppled. They are trying to erase a part of history from the minds of everyone in country simply because their ancestors may or may not have suffered during that history.

An article was shared on social media by one of my friends concerning a…man, if one may call a monster that, who felt as though women with a darker pigmented skin tone did not experience pain because that darker skin tone meant they were closer to animal than human (stupidity at its best since we also know animals feel pain as well, so his reasoning was grossly in error from all points of view). That monster would keep the women conscious while he conducted unspeakable horrors on them and their bodies in the name of science. He now holds the title of “father of modern gynecology.” I felt sick to my stomach reading that article, but the picture stood out and is now imprinted on my mind: four women standing in hospital gowns with fake blood (it was pink, not convincing as blood but it made the point) as the only color in the black & white photo, standing in front of a statue of that monster. The statue was not the focal point of that photo; the women were as they represented the women who were mistreated and tortured. Without that statue – despite the feelings of disgust and abhorrence it invokes – how will we have that powerful of a reminder that experimentation on humans in the name of science, completely disregarding the feelings of those humans, was done in the past and ignored? A reminder that we cannot allow that to happen again?

That is why the statues are being torn down reminding people of the Confederacy – not because the general were slave owners because many of them either never owned slaves or set their slaves free as soon as they came into their possession. No. Those statues remind people that at one point in our history, the federal government got too big and was infringing on the rights of the individual states leading a group of states to fight back for their rights. (Slavery was NOT a cause of the War Between the States….I’ll write about that later.) If a group of Americans want to use those statues as a reminder of mistreatment of their ancestors or those like their ancestors, then that is their right as Americans. However, toppling those statues will not change what happened.

(The conspiracy theorist in me is thinking that somehow the federal government – Republicans and Democrats – have had a hand in the toppling of the statues because the election of Donald Trump woke them up to the fact that We the People are angry at how they have destroyed our country, and they want to get rid of reminders that we are allowed and encouraged by our past to fight back against an overbearing federal government.)

I am actually waiting for statues of Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and other outspoken Founding Fathers to be toppled – in the name of they owned slaves of course, nothing to do with their cries of Give me Liberty or Give me Death! 

Winston Churchill once said, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” If you do not like the events of the past, do not allow them to happen again. Walk past that statue and remember and do not allow them to happen again. We cannot rewrite the past, but we can direct the course of events our posterity will read as history.