When does it go too far?

Posted on June 25, 2015 by


With the Charleston massacre being at the center of it all… I’ve spent a little more time sitting and listening… (although, I have felt compelled to post, on Facebook, about the “collateral damage”, as those events have sped by).

I’m struck by the manner in which we can be so focused, in our conversations, on one topic and have little or nothing to say about the other things that are popping-up in the wake of Charleston. If you haven’t noticed, there’s more going on than just the removal of the Confederate flag from various locations.

We have the removal of the flag (and imagery of the same), for sale, from several stores (to include online shopping).

We have discussions for the removal of Confederate statuary, that, though without the Confederate flag anywhere thereon.

We have vandalism (I think I’ve seen stories about 3 or 4 monuments so far) on Confederate statuary.

We have discussions about removing the names of Confederate generals from our military bases. (strange I haven’t heard about another base, which is named for a former member, and officer of the national organization of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Give it time, I suppose).

We have vandalism on non-Confederate statuary… the John C. Calhoun statue in Charleston. Though Calhoun died in 1850, he was a defender of slavery. Obviously, the “protests” have moved outside the Civil War and Confederate symbolism.

Then, last night, I saw, in the New York Post, a call for removing the film Gone With the Wind, from sales, etc.

I’ve asked the question “what next”, and I’ve wondered about the potential reach of this momentum (statuary or other items related to slaveholders Washington and Jefferson, for example). Actually, I take that back… there has been something about why we have a monument to Jefferson in Washington, D.C. Pardon me… I have a hard time keeping up with everything that is happening.

It’s not my intent to spend all day listing what has taken place (and please don’t comment with a longer list), but I figured I’d share some observations. Also, pardon me if I don’t provide hyperlinks to examples of the above. Those can be found easily enough with a Google search.

There’s a lot to be considered in the wake of all of these happenings. As I said above, it seems strange that there continue to be so many discussions on the Confederate flag, and yet little or nothing said (other than the occasional press reports) about the other places the momentum is taking us.

I wonder why historians are only talking about the flag and haven’t said much about the vandalism.

Actually, let me back up just a minute… I haven’t seen anything out of the media that brings this up. Perhaps it’s just that the media hasn’t asked historians yet. If there are actually news pieces out there that have asked this question, please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Yet, outside that which is media controlled, there are actually other venues, on the Web, to speak out about these other things… the vandalism and discussions that extend beyond the actual imagery of the Confederate flag. Ironically, I haven’t seen many at least broach (understand, I say only “broach”, and not directly addressed… which is not reflective of a level of passion I would have anticipated from historians) some level of concern over the vandalism. I’m curious as to… why? One would think vandalism of historical structures and the suggestion of removing critical films (that help us better understand our society’s waltz through history) would be of significant concern.

I’ll also add, that there is a giddiness in some historians… troubling, indeed… taking great joy in this being a great opportunity for “payback” to the “heritage crew”. Such happiness reflects having missed the point. This is not what started this, in the first place. I think I’ve said it before, about “zeal”… take care… take great care… and I really don’t think I need mention why.  I will say, however, that the potential collateral damage (which has started to come to reality) that I’ve mentioned in my previous post, and again, here, extends well beyond the “heritage crew”.

The flags have come down. Yet, that zeal and momentum continue to spiral out of control…

While historians have been contributors to the discussion about the flag, I think it’s time for them to step up with equal interest in voicing their opinions on suggestions being made regarding additional purges, and how that stands to impact our future and our ability to intelligently look back on our past.