Confederate monuments celebrate evil men
In his letter defending the preservation of Confederate monuments (“Don’t Remove American History,” 8/27/17), Gary Stubblefield writes, “The Germans didn’t erase the concentration camps of WW II. Instead, they let remnants of that era … remain as lessons of the past.”
This statement is profoundly misleading. These Confederate monuments celebrate the evil men who fought a war to preserve the institution of slavery, presenting them as heroes.
Post-war Germany’s response to its Nazi past is just the opposite. The country is filled with memorials to the Holocaust, often listing the names of the German Jews who were hauled off to the gas chambers, while their Gentile neighbors looked on. The concentration camps have been turned into museums documenting the atrocities that occurred there, and Hitler’s genocidal anti-Semitism. When a few years back I visited Berlin with my wife and daughter, we spent the entire afternoon at the Jewish Museum, which is smack in the middle of town, and which portrays the history of Jews in Germany from the start of the Diaspora to modern times, with special emphasis on the Shoah. Berlin also contains a large memorial to the Holocaust, located in the center of the former Nazi empire.
If America truly wants to follow Germany’s example, we should remove the Confederate monuments and replace them with monuments to the horrors of slavery: families torn apart at slave auctions, slave masters beating to death “uppity” slaves, slave owners raping and impregnating female black slaves, slaves toiling without wages in the blistering sun in the cotton fields.
Those would be monuments I could be proud of as an American, evidence that America is finally confronting its past, a light in these dark times.
-- Henry Gonshak, Butte