First, let’s be really clear that the main cause of the Civil War was slavery.
Despite claims that it was about states rights, cotton exports, or anything else, one need only read the Confederate states articles of secession to determine why we engaged in the slaughter of 600,000 of our own.
For example, the statement from Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.”
The secession of the South was about the right to own another human being and force him to labor for the benefit of the owner.
To be clear, not only was the Confederate split about slavery, it was treason against the Union.
I say all that to make clear that I understand why any symbols of the Confederacy are odious to many.
(I would be remiss if I were not to note that many Americans from the South interpret these symbols differently than the rest of the country does.)
So… why should we note this event with monuments to those who participated in the war for slavery?
Because it’s part of our history and without a true knowledge of where and what we have been, we have no compass to the future.
The Bible doesn’t sanitize the history of the people of God and sometimes we wish it would.
We are presented with sins, flaws and foibles, of everyone from Adam to Peter including the murderous lust of that man after Gods own heart, David.
We have constant reminders in the Scripture of how we can act and what we are capable of.
God understands the power of history.
Further, if we take down the monuments to the South on the basis of bigotry and racism, why stop there?
Many of the founding fathers were slave owners, including Washington and Jefferson.
Lincoln freed the slaves with the possibility to then send them back to Africa…
We’ll have lots of open park space if we take them all down.
The Civil War is a critical point in our history for reasons too numerous to enumerate here.
It is imperative to our survival as one nation to learn from it all the lessons we possibly can.
We can debate what those lessons are and what that history means, but we dare not remove this war from our vision and consciousness.
Pretending it didn’t happen or that those people were radically different from us would be a huge mistake, perhaps even a fatal one.
The monuments remind us of where we’ve been.
They also remind us that the Confederacy lost and we have made strides to be better.
They remind us in other ways that we have a long way to go.
We need all these reminders.
They are, after all, part of our history.