The great national monument reckoning came to the U.S. Capitol this week, as the House of Representatives voted to remove statues and busts of individuals deemed racist.
The bill, introduced by Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, was specifically aimed at ditching the bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and monuments to four other men.
While the legislation specifically mentions only five statues and busts, it would also do away with statues of anyone who joined the Confederacy.
And, out of those 16 total monuments that would be affected by the legislation, 14 of them are sculptures of Democrats.
As The Washington Post reported, the legislation has to do with statues selected by the individual states to represent them in the Capitol. Each state picks two. There are also other monuments, like the bust of Taney outside of the Old Supreme Court Chamber.
Our beloved country will hopefully survive for a few more millennia or so, but even with that long time frame it’ll be hard to top Taney’s distinction for authoring the worst decision to ever be handed down by the Supreme Court: 1857’s Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the court ruled black Americans weren’t really full citizens. Taney justified his decision in part by citing colonial and early American laws which “show that a perpetual and impassable barrier was intended to be erected between the white race and the one which they had reduced to slavery, and governed as subjects with absolute and despotic power.”
As the kids like say, that aged well.
The legislation — which passed by a vote of 305-113 on Wednesday — singled out other individuals whose sculptures were to be removed.
“Charles Aycock of North Carolina, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina and James Paul Clarke of Arkansas, although not members of the Confederacy, were white supremacists, and their statues are specifically named in the bill for removal from the National Statuary Hall Collection,” Roll Call reported.
“The bust of John C. Breckinridge, a Kentucky senator and vice president in the Buchanan administration who was expelled in 1861 for joining the Confederacy, would also be removed.”
The legislation would also do away with “all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America,” which means, by Roll Call’s count, that 11 more statues would have to go.
“It’s time to sweep away the last vestiges of Jim Crow and the dehumanizing of individuals because of the color of their skin that intruded for too long on the sacred spaces of our democracy,” Hoyer said.
“The American people know these names have to go. These names are white supremacists that said terrible things about our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last month, calling for statues of Confederate leaders to be removed from the Capitol, according to NBC News.
And there’s the great self-own: As Penny Starr pointed out at Breitbart, four of the men named were all Democrats (and all vile), as were nine of the 11 Confederate individuals whose statues would come down if the legislation passed. If you count Breckinridge, that’s 14 of the 16 statues and busts that Democrats want removed of figures who were Democrats.
Taney was a Democrat and a member of President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet.
Aycock, meanwhile, was a Democratic governor of North Carolina who was openly white supremacist and openly boastful of the fact he kept black people from having a say in their fate or participating in the white man’s culture.
“I am proud of my state … because there we have solved the negro problem,” Aycock said in a 1903 speech. “We have taken him out of politics and have thereby secured good government under any party and laid foundations for the future development of both races. We have secured peace, and rendered prosperity a certainty.
“Let the negro learn once for all that there is unending separation of the races, that the two peoples may develop side by side to the fullest but that they cannot intermingle; let the white man determine that no man shall by act or thought or speech cross this line, and the race problem will be at an end.”
Calhoun, meanwhile, spent the majority of his career as a pitch-man for the antebellum South’s plantation system. The vice president under Andrew Jackson, Calhoun resigned and became a senator from South Carolina.
He’s most famous for his 1837 “positive good” speech on slavery: “I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding states between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good — a positive good.” And he was a Democrat.
As for Clarke, he was an Arkansas governor whose thoughts on the matter could be best summed up through this quote: “The people of the South looked to the Democratic Party to preserve the white standards of civilization.”
As for the Confederates, there are always two lines of thinking whenever Confederate statues or imagery gets removed.
There’s one side that says we’re erasing history, the other side that says it’s history that’s worth erasing. I find myself in the latter camp.
Without getting into a complicated discussion on slavery, regional economics and race in the middle of the 19th century that’ll get me buried under a pile of emails I just don’t want to deal with, let me just say I’m a Yank who doesn’t particularly like traitors and thinks William Tecumseh Sherman didn’t raze enough for my liking.
I find a lot of Democrats on my side in this fight — which is ironic, because they’re removing their own.
Of the 11 other statues not named in the bill but that would face removal for links to the Confederacy, here are the nine Democrats: Jefferson Davis (president of the Confederate States of America, former senator from Mississippi), Alexander Hamilton Stephens (vice president of the Confederate States of America and congressman and governor of Georgia), James Zachariah George (former Democratic senator from Mississippi, also member of the Mississippi Secession Convention), Wade Hampton (lieutenant general of the Confederate States of America, former governor of South Carolina), John E. Kenna (served in the Confederate army, former congressman and senator from West Virginia), Uriah Milton Rose (chairman of the Resolutions Committee for the Arkansas Democratic Party), Edward Douglass White (Confederate army member and a former senator from Louisiana), Joseph Wheeler (commander in the Confederate army and a former congressman from Alabama) and Zebulon Baird Vance (Confederate army member and former governor of North Carolina).
Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate army, and Edmund Kirby Smith, general with the Confederate army, had no particular party affiliation.
It would cost about $5 million to remove and replace the statues.
While the bill has been passed the House, it isn’t up for consideration in the Republican-controlled Senate at the moment.
I say go for it. Remind America who the slavers, traitors and white supremacists were — Democrats.
Then remind America which party stood in the schoohouse door and forced President Eisenhower to send troops down to Little Rock to integrate the schools. Remind them which party gave succor to racist demagogues like Theodore Bilbo and James Eastland.
Let them make their false noises about the “Southern Strategy” and how the parties magically switched on race — when nothing of the sort happened.
It’s worth the $5 million.
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