We must remember the good and the bad
Published 1:09 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021
To the Editor,
The removal of historical monuments has become commonplace across this country. I am disheartened to find it has finally reached Little Washington. Let me state plainly: Removing or editing the Josephus Daniels marker is unwise. The issue at hand is larger than the facts of this man’s life. The crux of the matter is that tampering with historical monuments is inherently destructive and always purely political. As such, I would like to note that I am a registered Independent, and my position on this matter is out of civic concern and historical honesty.
Lamentably, our civic education is lacking. Many in this country could not identify a statue of our nation’s founders, let alone tell the difference between Confederate and Union generals. This past summer’s wave of destruction makes this indisputable. Let me remind you, statues of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson were torn down, foreign figures too, and a memorial to an all-black Union regiment was defaced. The cause of this was political frenzy feeding on ignorance, and we do not now, nor ever, need the maliciousness of historical revisionism to cause either to spread.
How many in this town knew of the marker, or could tell you more than what is written there? Would local knowledge of him, or that period, be increased with its removal? Furthermore, if the plaque were edited, how many in this current environment would care to learn more of a man past the brands of racism, white supremacy, and violent extremism; all of which are charges levied against the vast bulk of our forefathers. Popular figures of today are quickly destroyed for even the mere utterance of insensitive remarks. Could we expect any better treatment for figures long since dead and forgotten? More importantly: What real change will be made? What impact will it make on the problems of our present time?
The truth is, whether the marker stays or goes, the past and the present will remain the same. Most will never know this man ever existed, and any change to the plaque will ensure this. The motivation for this endeavor can be nothing more than misguided political zeal and reckless self-aggrandizement, as this action does a great disservice to us and to future generations. Characterizing and disparaging historical figures purely for their sins, real or perceived, is only done to create a political narrative, one designed to cause intentional bias and instill in those least informed a blind hatred for the past.
Every nation of this earth has a dark history, which they must reckon with and yet preserve. We, too, must learn to remember both the good and the bad without constant condemnation of things that are no longer under our control. If we wish to remain a united country, we will have to find a way to remember the past without the interjection of modern politics. I pray God will grant us this.