Now that we are so engrossed with identifying and removing "offensive symbols" from all aspects of public domain, I wonder just where we are headed as a nation.
Who will determine what is offensive, and to what extent will the media push this into the spotlight? Will there be anything left of our historical heritage that is not declared offensive to one group or another? Will there not always be a group of thin-skinned, self-identified "victims" who want to redress a perceived persecution that occurred in the distant past?
This is where we are now with respect to the Confederate battle flag that for many years has been recognized as a symbol of Southern heritage and under which more than 200,000 Americans lost their lives, and to the statues of long-dead Kentuckians.
The first cause of that long-ago conflict is still a matter for debate.
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Initially it was a matter of economics, with the Northern states passing tariffs on the Southern states' exports to raise money for the government (Morrill Tariff Act).
The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln was another divisive issue, with a controversial president who was not elected with a majority of the popular vote, receiving most all of his votes from the Northern states. Southerners perceived that an attack was being made on their economy and chose to rebel against those who were in that attack.
Southern soldiers joined up primarily as a matter of pride and honor, as an extremely small proportion of them actually owned slaves. Compare this to the situation in 1776 when a distant king and Parliament controlled the economy of their colony, and that colony chose to rebel against that persecution.
Did the soldiers of that era join the army with a motive of protecting slavery? Should we remove all symbols of their sacrifice that might offend a minority of today? (Note that the British army offered freedom to any slave who joined its cause.)
The American army was led by officers, many of whom were slave owners. One was elected our first president. Should we remove all statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and perhaps the early colonial flags that fly in historic areas? Should we remove their images from our currency?
Where will this ever end? How can we ever satisfy those who choose never to be satisfied? President Andrew Jackson persecuted the Indians. Will he be the next victim of this pogrom?
Now we are in different times with slavery existing only in the minds of those who choose to self-identify as victims of slavery. I am 72 years old, have traveled in many parts of the country and have never once met a slave or a child of one.
Our country has been transformed, with minorities holding the highest offices in the land, nominally in control of the functions of the executive branch and holding many offices in the legislative and judicial branches.
It is time to let go of the notion that they are in any way oppressed and instead focus on the more critical issues of repairing our economy, securing our borders and controlling our spiraling debt. Leave the statues of the courageous dead where they are as a reminder of earlier times when we were in a different stage of history.
Were John Hunt Morgan and John Cabell Breckinridge more ruthless with the local population than William T. Sherman when he burned and ravaged through the South? Let us instead learn from past events and acquire from those the wisdom that will make us a better and more tolerant people.
Divisive issues from the past feast on the minds of those who choose to pick at the scabs of those divisions. We should instead leave those statues and markers as an example of art and a lesson of history for a more enlightened people.