Too slippery a slope
The Herald-Leader should push for removing more than the John Hunt Morgan statue. Ask that the Mary Todd Lincoln house be bulldozed; her family supported the “Lost Cause.” Fill the vacant place with a huge statue of old Abe, facing south and giving the finger. Of course, it should include these words from his campaign poster: “Free Territory. Protection to American Industry.” (“Protection to American Industry” meant raising the tariff as high as the North wanted. The·poster says nothing about slavery.)
Also push for bulldozing Henry Clay’s home. Clay owned slaves, and his “American System,” especially the part about internal improvements, which the South was forced to pay for, did much to cause the war. Replace Clay’s home with a diorama that depicts Gens. Ulysses S. Grant, Phil Sheridan and “Crazy” William Sherman. It should show the South in flames; corpses of young boys and old men who fought to prevent destruction; women being raped; soldiers trampling crops.
Also push for burning all books pertaining to the War of the Rebellion, the Civil War’s official name.
Morgan believed that he was fighting against slavery. He said, “No power on Earth can make us slaves.” The economy inflicted on the South by the North was reaching far up the wealth ladder creating great poverty and making existence for many worse than that of the black slaves.
Focus on the present
Confederate statues should be removed because the Civil War is long over, and this nation needs to move on. Civil War heroes of both the North and South should be respected for their contributions to their respective causes, but let Lexington live more in the present and place new statues of more modern heroes.
A statue of Secretariat with the winning jockey would be a good statue. It’s hard to change, but change is a part of history.
End the denial
The Confederate statues should stay at the former courthouse, but with the addition of an unavoidable marker telling the unvarnished truth about their history, including such information as: In 2016, many in Lexington argued vehemently that the statues merely honored heroes of the Confederacy; for about 100 years from their installation, little public protest was heard about the existence or placement of these memorials; and when they were conceived, sufficient money was raised in the community and by the state to purchase and place these memorials within 100 yards of where Lexington held its slave auctions.
There should be a diary written in ink and constructed so as not to allow pages to be ripped out without clear evidence of having done so. You may see an experience differently at one time in your life than you do in another, but both views are to be recorded.
Yes, the statues could be carted off and reinstalled in a venue more suited for them, far from “Lexington’s front porch,” but their visibility would be greatly diminished. Some of us do not need to be reminded of racism in Lexington. Some would benefit from a weekly or maybe a daily reminder. But the decision about the statues belongs to the people whom they offend.
This is a case for radically, clearly, publicly removing deniability.
Jack W. Morris
Do the noble thing
It is time for Lexington to fully enter the 21st century and remove the statue of John C. Breckinridge and the equestrian statue of John Hunt Morgan from the old courthouse area to another setting. I will leave it to the powers that be and possibly a community historical group to find the appropriate place.
I say this as a lifelong Kentuckian. I lived through a big piece of the 20th century with all the racist past of a small-town life. Though my native Shelbyville was smaller than Lexington, it was like most of post-World War II Kentucky.
I heard the “n” word early and often. I attended segregated schools. During my first teaching job in 1962-63 at Harrodsburg High School, which was fully integrated, I had to grow up fast. The school’s African American players were treated well by their white counterparts but not so when we went on the road.
As a historian, much of my research and writing has been about the South and southerners. Make no mistake about it; Kentucky is very southern.
Don’t forget history. But in doing so, you have to recognize the terrible consequences of slavery and the Civil War, lynching, segregation, prejudice and racism.
Let us get on with making Kentucky the most progressive state in the union.
William E. Ellis
Take down the statues
In an August 2016 letter, I addressed certain issues regarding the Confederate statues near the old Fayette County courthouse, and I was surprised that Lexington political leaders did not have the wisdom to seek their removal. African Americans in Lexington are a minority and don’t have the collective wealth and accumulated political power to take on the majority white rule. But let whites not forget that 100 percent of Lexington’s African Americans, in their core being, want these statues removed.
Grumbling about the removal cost or where to put the statues is a stalling tactic. The mayor does not want this on his resume.
Let us understand that might does not mean right and that if just one black child is psychologically wounded by this obvious racist presence of evil, that is reason enough to remove the statues.
If the situation were reversed, who among the present political majority here would want the same treatment? The mayor and city council probably see the moral and ethical injustice but choose their narcissistic political or financial future ambitions first and select the bad over the good.
What white person wants to be the sort who seeks his or her measure by crushing the souls of black children? Let Lexington, like New Orleans, put this issue to rest.
Ken C. Arnold
Keep symbols of history
I must comment on a seeming myopia exhibited in the Herald Leader’s in-depth article regarding the Confederate statutory in front of the old courthouse. The article implies that moving the statues is an inevitability. It is not.
The article also continually references the Breckinridge and Morgan statutes as “controversial.” They are not.
Of course, perhaps they are controversial to some in Lexington, and perhaps to the article’s author. But for many others, the statutes symbolize the Anglo-Celtic and Confederate heritage of Kentucky, the heritage which defended Kentucky’s right to self-determination and fought President Abraham Lincoln’s armies. For these Kentuckians there are other monuments in this state and in Lexington — from statues to street names—which are more “controversial.”
That is, the author’s justification for implicitly calling the Confederate statutes to task, is only an extended exercise in question-begging.
One would think that recent events, political and otherwise, would have taught this lesson: Excluding and provoking a large part of the population, in this case by deliberately and publicly casting away its cherished symbols and heroes, is a risky proposition. It serves only to incite, and I am sure that is the furthest thing from the writer’s mind.
At issue: Herald-Leader article, “New Orleans removed its Confederate monuments. What will Lexington do?” and Herald-Leader editorial, “Time to kick ‘Lost Cause’ off the pedestal”