By Allan Pilch, Contributing Writer
On the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the daytime talk show, Fox and Friends, had their hosts discuss new memorials dedicated to those who died on Flight 93 with the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
During this interview, Fox and Friends host, Brian Kilmeade, asked Secretary Zinke if he was worried about this. He asked, “Do you worry 100 years from now someone is going to try to take that memorial down like they are trying to remake our memorials today?”
For those who are confused as to what the host is referring to when he says “our memorials,” he is talking about the monuments that commemorate the leaders of the Confederate States of America, which are being taken down in response to a white supremacist rally that was held in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I don’t know about you, but to me, comparisons of September 11th to the Civil War is simply illogical. The monuments in memoriam of 9/11 are there for all Americans, to remind us of the tragedy that befell us in New York, D. C., and Shanksville, Pa., while the monuments of the Confederacy exists today to divide us.
The host’s comments are asinine, attempting to rile up the followers of their agenda to believe that the people who want memorials of the Confederacy removed want all of the monuments in America to be taken down, and that their beliefs will be undermined.
The history of the Confederate monuments have been forgotten or overlooked by some of the people who live near them, and many do not realize the racism associated with each of them. The monuments we see today were built and dedicated between 1890 and the First World War. They were built around the same time groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans started.
Professor Jonathan Leib of Old Dominion University stated that during this time, “Whites reassert[ed] control over the South by enforcing Jim Crow laws, taking control of southern governments and systematically disenfranchising and disempowering African-Americans.” The locations that they were placed in, like outside court houses and government buildings, was very much intentional.
Court cases like Plessy v. Ferguson, that ruled to uphold state racial segregation laws, were critical in undermining progress towards any positive change at a time of heightened racial violence during the industrial revolution. Racial segregation became the law and custom of the country when these monuments came to be. The simple fact of the matter is that these monuments do not belong on public grounds. The monuments were an added layer to the already increasingly large pile of bigotry continuing since the end of the Civil War.
Instead of having the monuments continue to be a beacon for hate groups, the alternative is to place them somewhere we can observe the past, like in museums and history classes.
When asked about moving publicly displayed monuments of the Confederacy to a museum, Benjamin Solomon, a senior political science student here at UMass Dartmouth stated that, “By putting these monuments in a museum, they are frozen in time, you look at them in the scope of the past. If they remain out on the street, their ideas will continue to remain acceptable.”
If you feel angered by this or would like to understand more about such important subjects like the Civil War or the 9/11 attacks, the best place to start are with books. For the Civil War, Race and Reunion by David W. Blight should allow for the understanding of events that followed the end of the war. The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright is a good start for those who want to get reliable and factual information concerning the origins of the devastating 9/11 attacks.
Think for yourselves and personally seek out and find the truth. Accept the dark and ugly history of this nation and work towards positive progress. You attend a university for a reason, right? You came here to become a better and more educated person. Don’t be the proverbial sheep that ignorantly follows. Understand the truth of our history.