This article about current government expenditures to maintain monuments to racism is remarkable. At a time when basic government functions such as education and public safety are underfunded coast to coast, US government entities are spending millions maintaining pro-Confederate memorials and monuments to racism.
Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library - Mississippi
Actual quote from an interpreter there.
Sometimes children ask about it, she said. “I want to tell them the honest truth, that slavery was good and bad.” While there were some “hateful slave owners,” she said, “it was good for the people that didn’t know how to take care of themselves, and they needed a job, and you had good slave owners like Jefferson Davis, who took care of his slaves and treated them like family. He loved them.
The Mississippi legislature earmarks $100,000 a year for preservation of Beauvoir. In 2014, the organization received a $48,475 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for “protective measures.” As of May 2010, Beauvoir had received $17.2 million in federal and state aid related to damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005."
This is Mississippi, the poorest state in the country. Katrina tried to do us a favor. We should have let the place rot after the storm.
For more on Jefferson Davis, check out my son's Facebook post last week on the anniversary of his death.
Confederate Memorial Park - Alabama
Though Alabama state parks often face budget cuts—one park had to close all its campsites in 2016 Confederate Memorial Park received some $600,000 that year. In the past decade, the state has allocated more than $5.6 million to the site. The park, which in 2016 served fewer than 40,000 visitors, recently expanded, with replica Civil War barracks completed in 2017."
The park tells the story of the war through the experiences of the common soldier. It's tragic that so many young men died fighting for an evil cause, but that is the choice they made. They weren't heroes. They chose to be on the wrong side of history, and humanity. Residents of the south that helped the Union were the heroes.
Jefferson Davis led a government that declared war on the US, and he is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Put another way, he killed far more Americans in war than Osama Bin Laden, and we use tax money to honor his legacy? WTF?
Here at home in Virginia.
In the past decade, Virginia has spent $174,000 to maintain the Lee statue, which has become a lightning rod for the larger controversy. In 2017, Richmond police spent some $500,000 to guard the monument and keep the peace during a neo-Confederate protest there.
Meanwhile Virginia has spent over $9 million (inflation adjusted) maintaining Confederate cemeteries. It has spent less than $1000 total on the burial places of enslaved people.
The statues of Monument Avenue might be a little bit unique as they are not obscure parks in out of the way places that would only be missed by racists if they were gone. For better or worse, they are part of the landscape here in Richmond. I might be okay with the statues remaining, as long as they are interpreted correctly. Something along the lines of what W.E.B. Du Bois suggested many years ago would work.
The plain truth of the matter,” Du Bois wrote, “would be an inscription something like this: ‘sacred to the memory of those who fought to Perpetuate Human Slavery.’”
This is entry #11 in my attempt at 31 days of blogging for December 2018. I've haven't posted here daily since about 2007, so this should be interesting.