Bye, Bitch!

An old picture of an ugly statue because we couldn’t afford the new pictures of an ugly statue
An old picture of an ugly statue because we couldn’t afford the new pictures of an ugly statue
Image: Steve Helber (AP)

In the wee small hours of Friday morning, a Pennsylvania-based statue removal firm crept into the Virginia State Capitol to collect all the statues and busts of shitty dead men like the tooth fairies of racism, while anyone who might make a fuss was fast asleep in their little beds. Instead of leaving a dollar in their place, Virginians now get the opportunity to replace the statues of bad people (who also didn’t fight wars that good) with statues of literally anyone else!

Advertisement

Perhaps having learned the lessons of letting people debate whether or not to keep government-funded monuments to slavery on courthouse lawns and lining the halls of public buildings throughout the country, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn simply ordered the removals of seven busts of vanquished Confederacy guys barely anyone remembers. She also ordered the removal of a 900-pound, life-sized, bronze statue of General Robert E. Lee that stood in the exact spot where he accepted the job offer to lead the South to defeat in the battle that would decide whether or not America would continue enslaving, torturing, and murdering human beings for better profit margins on plants. Later that evening, outside the normal protesting hours of the racists who would argue that the war was actually about states’ right to decide whether or not to enslave, torture, and murder human beings, Filler-Corn simply had some garbage collectors come and take the bad men away as a select few members of the press watched.

And while the room where the busts sat might have been the capital of the Confederacy, according to Filler-Corn, Virginia has lots to be proud of that doesn’t involve being historical advocates for slavery, and they’re probably gonna get some statues that celebrate whatever those things are now:

“Virginia has a story to tell that extends far beyond glorifying the Confederacy and its participants,” Filler-Corn said a statement. “Now is the time to provide context to our Capitol to truly tell the Commonwealth’s whole history.”

Advertisement

Elsewhere in Richmond, Governor Ralph Northam is fighting to take down a giant statue of Lee on Monument Avenue, while Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has also been quietly removing statues around the city in the night. As to what will replace the statues in the Thomas Jefferson-designed Capitol building, an advisory committee is getting together ideas. Here is my pitch: A story, told completely in melted bronze from confederate statues, of the mass alien abduction that happened in 1590 at the colony of Roanoke, which my seventh-grade history teacher tried to tell me didn’t happen but absolutely did.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

theghostofjimmadison
The Ghost of James Madison's Rage Boner

This has been circulating recently, in case you didn’t see it. It’s a short essay by W.E.B du Bois about the endless obsession with canonizing REL.

Each year on the 19th of January there is renewed effort to canonize Robert E. Lee, the greatest confederate general. His personal comeliness, his aristocratic birth and his military prowess all call for the verdict of greatness and genius. But one thing–one terrible fact–militates against this and that is the inescapable truth that Robert E. Lee led a bloody war to perpetuate slavery. Copperheads like the New York Times may magisterially declare: “of course, he never fought for slavery.” Well, for what did he fight? State rights? Nonsense. The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.

No. People do not go to war for abstract theories of government. They fight for property and privilege and that was what Virginia fought for in the Civil War. And Lee followed Virginia. He followed Virginia not because he particularly loved slavery (although he certainly did not hate it), but because he did not have the moral courage to stand against his family and his clan. Lee hesitated and hung his head in shame because he was asked to lead armies against human progress and Christian decency and did not dare refuse. He surrendered not to Grant, but to Negro Emancipation.

Today we can best perpetuate his memory and his nobler traits not by falsifying his moral debacle, but by explaining it to the young white south. What Lee did in 1861, other Lees are doing in 1928. They lack the moral courage to stand up for justice to the Negro because of the overwhelming public opinion of their social environment. Their fathers in the past have condoned lynching and mob violence, just as today they acquiesce in the disfranchisement of educated and worthy black citizens, provide wretchedly inadequate public schools for Negro children and endorse a public treatment of sickness, poverty and crime which disgraces civilization.

It is the punishment of the South that its Robert Lees and Jefferson Davises will always be tall, handsome and well-born. That their courage will be physical and not moral. That their leadership will be weak compliance with public opinion and never costly and unswerving revolt for justice and right. It is ridiculous to seek to excuse Robert Lee as the most formidable agency this nation ever raised to make 4 million human beings goods instead of men. Either he knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not he was a fool. If he did, Robert Lee was a traitor and a rebel–not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.