Honor Nobel-er family member
I read with interest Maryjean Wall's commentary on the John Hunt Morgan statue.
Back in the '50's when I was in schools in Lexington, John Hunt Morgan was revered as a hero during the Civil War. The story of his riding his horse through his home in Gratz Park is about all I remember from those classes.
His nephew, Thomas Hunt Morgan, was never mentioned in any class I ever had.
This is the Morgan family member who deserves a statue in a place of prominence. He was one of America's great scientists. He received his Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1933.
Perhaps John has been up long enough and a statue of Tom should take his place.
Traitor should go
Imagine this. A failed businessman known as a gambler and womanizer organizes a group of armed men committed to a radical philosophy, then eventually leads them on a series of attacks against civilian targets in our nation's heartland. Many deaths and much destruction of property result.
Imagine that the man was a one-time officer in our nation's army. We have clear and specific words for this kind of man, don't we? We know that such a man is a terrorist and a traitor.
Such a man was John Hunt Morgan.
Now, in these days when the symbols of the Confederacy are being publicly discussed in the context in which they were developed — as symbols of a deeply racist, undeniably evil commitment to the enslavement of human beings for economic gain — Lexingtonians have an opportunity to make a powerful contribution to that discussion.
The statue of Morgan that stands on the Old Courthouse grounds memorializes a man who should absolutely be remembered by all Kentuckians. But in its execution and context it evokes heroism where there was only moral cowardice, nobility where there was only meanness of spirit and patriotism where there was only self-serving treason.
We should take it down.
Off to a museum
The time to debate removing symbols and statues honoring the Confederacy is over.
Whatever you think the South's rebellion represents, it is too deeply tied to enslavement and cruelty to hold a place of honor in our state's Capitol.
These symbols and reminders of racism, bondage and insurrection should be remembered, but not in a way that honors them or implies that we still cling to their message of persecution and oppression.
They most certainly should not hold places of prestige in a society trying to move beyond the ills they represent. Men of the Confederacy may have had admirable qualities, but because of their decision to take up arms to defend the institution of slavery (which is what they did regardless of other motivations they may have had), their admirable aspects are overshadowed by their armed insurrection defending our country's original sin.
Leaders and symbols of the Confederacy do not deserve aggrandizement alongside the Founding Fathers and Old Glory in the hallowed halls of our democracy.
The place for these symbols and reminders is a museum, where we can remember them for all that they were, good and bad, without honoring the evils to which they are so deeply tied.
Power of forgiveness
How interesting the events in Charleston. Not the senseless murders, but the community response.
Remember the Baltimore protests this spring or the Ferguson unrest last summer or even the Watts riots in the summer of '65.
In those cities, the community reacted to violence with violence. People killed. Hundreds arrested. Property destroyed. Lives disrupted.
Compare the Charleston response after the killings at the Emanuel AME Church: peaceful prayer, community worship and forgiveness. In Charleston the people heard the victims' families expressing forgiveness along with their pain and anguish.
It recalled the response to Robert F. Kennedy speaking in Indianapolis when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The people listened then as they listened now to families of the victims. When those closest to violence respond with grace, who are we to act otherwise?