Editorial submitted by Adam Barr
I have been reading online comments and letters supporting the Confederate Monument in Brandenburg with great curiosity. I identify myself as a Southerner, born and raised in KY, loving the land and the people and the culture. I have carried this identity with me as I travelled through South America and living in other parts of the US. I’ve told people about farm life here, shared gifts of bourbon, made cornbread for people that never tried it before. I even lived in Alabama and learned to eat my collard greens properly.
My confusion is based on how a Confederate monument represents “our heritage”. My understanding is that my heritage comes from my ancestry. My ancestors lived on our farm here for generations before me. Some of them came from England and Ireland, possibly France, and some were Pennsylvania Dutch. They came with their language, their families, their food and their customs. They settled here on Cherokee land in 1835 with the help of the Federal government troops supporting the settlers from Hardinsburg. At some point during that process the family identity became “Southern”. That is my heritage.
The Confederation of American States was a political entity that lasted for 5 years: 1861-1865. According to the testimony of Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy: A speech of 21 March 1861: "[Our new government's] foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.” Given the gift of historical context I now understand that the Confederacy as a political entity stood for white supremacy. That is just a fact. Some of my ancestors probably fought for the confederacy. I cannot know their individual motivations. But I can imagine my heritage, and those ancestors fighting for the Confederacy is blip in a long line of 100s of years of my ancestors. Swearing allegiance to the flag of a political entity and glorifying Confederate soldiers is not the same thing as “our heritage”. Those Confederate soldiers only served the Confederacy for 5 years, maybe less, and did many other things in their lives. The confederacy lost the war and good thing too, otherwise black people might still be enslaved.
Lets continue to have more listening from both sides. Listening is always good. The "agree to disagree" argument is used in a recent editorial in the Messenger. In this case, the agreement would have to be to let one group continue to be culturally oppressed while the group in power continues to do as they wish. Seems like if we would want to start focusing on dialogue in this country, we would stop glorifying war and war heroes and start focusing on the life giving, life sustaining aspects of our heritage. Let us focus on those who built this nation up, those people who made it better, those people who have enriched our culture. Let us pass that heritage down to our children and not the heritage of fighting for a lost cause for 5 years. We won’t forget the Confederacy because they are part of our history. Removing the statue from the waterfront at Brandenburg would show how willing we are to hear the pain of other people and act in a way that moves towards reconciliation and ultimately reparations.