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 PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:45 pm Reply with quote  
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  Salaris Vorn
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Alan Skywalker V wrote:

The question I have is: is there anything on the statues of Lee and Jackson in Virginia and West Virginia that indicates they were raised to commemorate their service in the Civil War?


Now I will preface this by saying I have not personally seen the monuments or inspected them in detail. But my understanding is that they are depicted c.1860s, which would indicate that they were meant to commemorate their service to the CSA not the USA. It would require archive work, but the dedication ceremonies might also be enlightening as to the intent of those who put them up.


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If there is not, then why not let the statues stay where they are as monuments to two great soldiers and native Virginians who served honorably in the United States Army before the Civil War? Why should the events of the last three years of Jackson's life and five years of Lee's life dictate how they are remembered today to the point where all monuments should be erased?


I believe the point isn't that they should be erased from history. Rather that the final years of their life dictate who they ultimately were to the country. I believe a good example would be how we treat Benedict Arnold. He was, for a time, a great hero to the Continentals and helped win the victory of Saratoga. Yet he ultimately betrayed his country and that is what we ultimately remember him for. As I recall as a kid I learned the pejorative "you're a Benedict Arnold" before I learned about the man. We find him a very controversial figure who would be difficult to simply erect a monument to without immediately having to address why we're erecting a monument to one of the country's most infamous traitors. It's a similar case here, odds are the first time most people come across Jackson or Lee's name in any meaningful detail is in the context of the Civil War. Maybe a few history nerds read about them in detail in other contexts but I suspect if you asked most people who Robert E. Lee was they'd name him as one of those guys from the Civil War (if they recognized the name at all prior to all the press about the statues).

That's all academic though and I think the real issue boils down to what the statue means to people today. Given the hate groups that were rallying against it's removal I'd say whether it was the intent of the builders or not the Lee monument (and similar) have become rallying symbols for hate groups. Which is something we have to deal with and can't just leave the statue alone.

As for me I'm personally against the simple removal of the monuments. If they're symbols of racism and were put up to justify the Jim Crow period and promote the Lost Cause narrative then I think their absence is equally a problem. Primarily because it allows us to forget that there was a time in our history when we were ok with erecting monuments to individuals who fought to perpetuate slavery.

I think a far more productive thing to do would be to relocate them to museums or some other area where they could be interpreted in their historical context and the problematic issues of the monument's existence addressed. To me the important thing here is relocate rather than just remove. Their current (or former in some cases) location doesn't seem well suited to public interpretation due to the area's nature not being conducive to that (in contrast say to Gettysburg which is effectively an outdoor museum). But move them to a space, in door or outdoor, explicitly intended to be a museum setting where the public can be engaged and educated into the full history and symbolic meaning of the statue they're looking at and I think you can do something productive rather than destructive. I don't see any long term benefit to forgetting the darker aspects of our history as it only leaves the sanitized, ideal aspects of our history intact. To me that means we can't make progress towards aspiring to the ideals of the country if we forget the mistakes that were made that need to be corrected for (essentially we as a country can't learn from our mistakes if we remove those mistakes, however difficult and hurtful they might be to face, from public memory).
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:54 am Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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someone, sorry I don't know who, sagely said: 'Removing a statue doesn't erase history, because a statue doesn't teach history. That's what a history book is for. Using a statue to teach history is like teaching history with a Tweet.'

Fun fact: The National Memorial Cemetery at Arlington was built on Robert E. Lee's property. It's a giant middle finger to him, literally laying the Civil War dead at his feet.

Lee also said that leading the CSA was the biggest mistake of his life, so if you think he fought for a righteous cause, he didn't think so.

Another fun fact, the Trail of Tears is marked at a public rest stop. Someone commented on it, "Was it really a good idea to commemorate genocide with a toilet?"

US history is crazy.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:41 pm Reply with quote  
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  Salaris Vorn
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Dog-Poop_Walker wrote:
someone, sorry I don't know who, sagely said: 'Removing a statue doesn't erase history, because a statue doesn't teach history. That's what a history book is for. Using a statue to teach history is like teaching history with a Tweet.'


It doesn't teach history, true. But societies have traditionally used monuments to construct how we remember history.

For example, the traditional Civil War narrative that feeds into the idea that the CSA's cause was equivalent to the USA's began in the 1890s with the War Department taking control of battlefields like Gettysburg and making it official interpretive policy to be "impartial" which translated to commemorative activity designed to reconcile North and South by portraying both sides as having equal martial valor and, by extension, morally equal causes.

Study the monuments at places like Gettysburg and you'll come across a number of monuments where the veterans erecting them had very specific purposes and goals with how they intended the monuments to direct how history remembered them.

So monuments don't teach history per se but they are specifically made with the design of influencing how and what we focus on when we discuss history.
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 PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:51 am Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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SV: That quote was just food for thought, not my personal belief. Your post was really good and I agree with you.

I recommend people to check out the WWI doc on netflix called Long Shadow, which is about historical monuments to WWI and how they effect the way people think about history.

I haven't seen that concept applied to any other event, which is too bad because I think it's very worthwhile. I seem to recall a PBS doc about the creation of the Vietnam War memorial wall, which is a good story but it doesn't have the wider focus.
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 PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:18 pm Reply with quote  
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  Salaris Vorn
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Dog-Poop_Walker wrote:
SV: That quote was just food for thought, not my personal belief. Your post was really good and I agree with you.


I'm literally writing my doctoral dissertation on how monuments are used to construct how we remember history so the Confederate monument debate has been one I'm really interested. Apologies if my enthusiasm came across at all aggressive.

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I recommend people to check out the WWI doc on netflix called Long Shadow, which is about historical monuments to WWI and how they effect the way people think about history.


On that note if anyone is ever in Ottawa, Canada you really, really should go to the Canadian War Museum there. The architecture of the building itself is designed as a monument and it's really interesting how they deal with remembering the past.

Also more relevant to the Confederate monuments at hand: the book Difficult Heritage: Negotiating the Nazi Past in Nuremberg and Beyond by Sharon Macdonald is really good. It is specifically focused on the topic of how Germany dealt with the Nazi rally grounds at Nuremberg and how they recognized that razing the rally grounds risked erasing painful reminders of the past but preserving them as a monument/sacred space also risked turning it into a Neo-Nazi shrine. It doesn't entirely translate to what to do with a solitary statue but it does a wonderful job in explaining how such things aren't a binary debate of leave as is or take down.

To my recollection the book is fairly accessible and not riddled with excessive jargon.
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 PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:22 am Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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Salaris Vorn wrote:


On that note if anyone is ever in Ottawa, Canada you really, really should go to the Canadian War Museum there. The architecture of the building itself is designed as a monument and it's really interesting how they deal with remembering the past.



As someone who lives in Ottawa, I fully endorse this recommendation.

There's a special atrium inside that's calibrated so the sun lands on the tombstone of the Unknown Soldier at exactly 11am on November 11th (Remembrance Day).
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 PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:40 pm Reply with quote  
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  Salaris Vorn
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Taral-DLOS wrote:
Salaris Vorn wrote:


On that note if anyone is ever in Ottawa, Canada you really, really should go to the Canadian War Museum there. The architecture of the building itself is designed as a monument and it's really interesting how they deal with remembering the past.



As someone who lives in Ottawa, I fully endorse this recommendation.

There's a special atrium inside that's calibrated so the sun lands on the tombstone of the Unknown Soldier at exactly 11am on November 11th (Remembrance Day).


To add to that the dimensions of that room is the exact size of the area of control WWI soldier had of his surroundings on the battlefield (roughly 10 sq meters or so). Really powerful to contemplate.
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 PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:41 am Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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Some of the things that I said in talking about Charlottesville and the Alt Right use cheap rhetorical devices and a level of discourse that I am not very comfortable in standing behind.

I hope that you understand that my intentions were not to provide detailed and nuanced commentary of the issues, but to make an appeal in clear and expressive language in order to make the point that the issue is one that is very serious and should be taken as such.

Calling these people "Nazis" is not just for hyperbole, it's not just because they really do hold the same values and strategies as the Nazis, but because they purposefully tried to distance themselves away from the perception of being Nazis because they know that people are against it. That's why they are called the Alt Right, because until recently no one who wasn't a part of it really knew what that meant.

Now that they have been unmasked, they are revising their strategies. We may think that we have succeeded if there aren't anymore KKK rallies or something like that. In Germany it's illegal to show the swastika or any Nazi images, so the Nazis don't do that. That doesn't mean there are no Nazis. There was a group called the Nation Socialist Underground that just went around murdering people, and they didn't do anything to promote Nazism. They got away with it for 20 years because until they were caught, the government didn't even know that it was a Nazi group, and just thought it was typical crime.

Their main method isn't going to be violence, though. So again, that's a good thing, right? less violence is good. That's only because right now violence doesn't work because too many people are against them. What they want is to get people to agree with them so that later when the violence does happen it will be justified and not thought of as violence.

You don't need to use force to make people do what you want. First you need to change the way that they talk by putting your words into their mouth. Then you're already there. If they say what you want them to say, they are now thinking what you want them to think.

Trump said that both sides were equally to blame, both the Alt Right and the Alt Left.
That sounds reasonable, maybe. Think about it. If there is an extremist right wing it makes sense that there is an extremist left wing.

So where did the "Alt Right" come from? It came from them, that's the name that they came up with for themselves. It's to appeal to the right wing and grant them the appearance of legitimacy by attaching themselves to an established and accepted political group. So where did the "Alt Left" come from? It came from the Alt Right. It didn't come from the left, the radical left don't call themselves the Alt Left, why would they? That would equate them with the Alt Right.

So they made up their own counter group, but not for the reason that you might think. Not to attack the left. The Alt Right want to exterminate black people, so therefor the Alt Left must want to exterminate white people...which is exactly the central platform of the Alt Right. That's how they justify it, just like Hitler did.

Since I pointed out that Trump uses Nazi rhetoric, let me be clear that I don't think he is a Nazi. The Nazis aren't in control and they aren't even really the problem. The Third Reich is never going to come again, and I'm not sure if they even believe it. But what they can do is help to empower the people who are the real threat. Those people are smarter and they don't care about any idealogy. The real problem that we have to worry about is the centralization of power and the erosion of individual freedoms. That's been a problem for all of human history and it can happen all too easily.
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 PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:56 pm Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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Ok, that was long, and I get if you tl;dr.

But I want to go back to Trump for just a sec. When Trump says, "the Alt Left" what he means is "anyone who doesn't like Donald Trump." So what he's really saying is "the Left", but that's not what he means. It's not political. Trump doesn't really have a problem with the Left. We all know that Trump has always been a Democrat, right?

What gave Trump his rise in popularity was being an Obama hater. Truthfully, that's not a partisan position. You can hate Obama and be a Democrat. But obviously that is going to appeal more to people on the Right. So that's the only reason why Trump makes appeals to the Alt Right, not for their political views, but because they like him.

That's how he thinks. Those are the two groups of people that matter to Trump: the people who like Donald Trump and the people who don't. Now he does use jingoist terms to describe them like "fake news" or "real Americans" but that's what he means.
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 PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:04 pm Reply with quote  
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  Salaris Vorn
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this is a very good piece on the recent Federal tax legislation and focuses in particular on the repeal of the tuition waver impacts graduate students. Overall well worth the read too if you are a parent: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/opinion/house-tax-bill-graduate-students.html
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