Racism is a stain on North and South

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

To the Editor,

The lengthy piece by Polk Culpepper in the WDN on our local Confederate monuments goes off the deep end by regurgitating the talking points of the far left which wants to destroy our historical monuments, as alleged “context.” The contentions that the monuments had anything to do with ”white supremacy” or Jim Crow are just bogus.

Culpepper cites the leftist talking-point argument on timing of erection of monuments as his centerpiece, but monuments to southern soldiers were erected in the same time period as those for northern soldiers. That was simply a matter of commemorating their wartime sacrifices for both north and south during a period the soldiers were starting to age and die.

It was also a period when southerners finally had money for such civic endeavors. The south was knocked flat financially by the war, then had to endure a long and brutal military occupation, during which Yankee carpetbaggers came south in droves to suck up what was left.

The South has always held its ancestors in high regard. The first Memorial Day in North America was the first Confederate Memorial Day in 1866, and the national day followed the next year. The southerners who organized that first Confederate Memorial Day urged that the sacrifices of soldiers on both sides be honored.

Jim Crow laws were indeed an awful thing, but northerners should not be too smug as many northern states had enacted very similar laws known as Black Codes much earlier, prior to the War Between the States, so this stain is on both regions of the country. That the North did it first does not excuse the South. Similarly, the late 19th century revival of the KKK was as much a northern phenomena as a southern one, and a stain on both. Again, none of this had anything to do with war memorials in either region.

One of the most dastardly white supremists in N.C. during the turn of the century period had roots in Beaufort County, and he was the son of a staunch Union man, not a Confederate. That was Josephus Daniels, whose father slipped information on Confederate defenses on the Pamlico to Union forces to facilitate their capture of Washington in 1862. Daniels used the Raleigh News and Observer, which he owned, to spew white supremist hatred and was probably the single most influential white supremist in the state around the turn of the century. Again, he was the product of a strong Unionist family, not a Confederate one. Tying the white supremists of the period to the Confederacy is just bogus.

We need to learn from our true history, not rely on stereotypes and guilt by association, and most certainly not on the talking points of groups trying to divide America.

Steven Rader