Originally, I had sent in a response to a letter by Larry Spencer (“May The Spirit Of The Confederacy Live Forever,” Aug. 25) with a decidedly “the South Shall Rise Again” attitude. After reading Mr. Euell’s letter (“Misplaced Blame On Charlottesville,” Sept. 8) in response to my letter decrying President Trump’s response to the Charlottesville episode, I feel I should respond to both.
Both letters are by scary people. They were written by people who do not understand the history of our country, what it stands for, who built it and who keeps it going. Mr. Spencer should really learn more about what the Confederacy stood for and also about when most of the statues to their leaders were raised. Most were done during the Jim Crow era with another large number during the civil rights era and were designed to intimidate people. We, as a unified, diverse people, should teach and research history, explain and understand it. We should revere history itself. That, however, does not mean that we need to revere every person listed in the history books. The statues of leaders of a rebellion to this nation should be put in museums or Civil War battlefields with explanations about each person. In this day and age, do we really want a statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the early leaders of the KKK and a traitor to the United States, displayed as a hero?
And now to Mr. Euell, a prolific right-wing letter-writer to this publication. The First Amendment does not give a complete right to free speech as some might think. There are exceptions. I will not go into them, but, again, a reading of the history of this country would provide many examples. I do not deny that people of every political spectrum (even the KKK, Nazis) have the right to opine in a public space, in print, or anywhere they want. I was not writing in order to limit their right of free speech. Mr. Euell, however, didn’t understand that. He feels that anything left of the Nazis/KKK is “left-wing tripe.” Untrue, as is his justification defending President Trump’s “good people on both sides” remark. On the Nazi/KKK side in Charlottesville there were not people who were descendants of Confederate soldiers wanting to keep the statues. (Please see above as to when/why those statues were put up.) And what type of history buff/Confederate soldier’s descendant would stay and march with a group who started showing Swastika flags and chanting Nazi slogans? They would have left the march if they were “good people.”
Also, his reference to Bernie Sanders and Richard Byrd, his service in the New York City Police Department, his family’s service during World War II or his service in the military have nothing to do with the argument that President Trump’s remarks were immoral. Mr. Euell says that the president didn’t say he agreed with the Nazis, white supremacists, etc. (and I do not think Mr. Trump agrees with these hate groups). But, it took tooth-pulling to get him to say he didn’t agree with them, and then he came back again and spoke about “good people on both sides.” I repeat from my original note: Mr. Trump should have been a unifier.
Both Mr. Spencer and Mr. Euell are on the wrong side of morality and history in this particular instance, but this is not surprising; they represent an element that is almost always on the wrong side of freedoms for people. Though it might take a long time, people like that are always proven wrong as civilized society passes them by and eventually sides with the moral, correct argument for a civilization (slavery, women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, etc.) to grow better.
While we as a country have made many mistakes in the past, we still need to “strive for a more perfect union,” and that means coming to grips with those mistakes. “American Exceptionalism” is not just a talking point. Never in history has a country brought so many diverse people together to work in a unified way, as equals, to raise a nation to the point that the United States has been raised. We are, and should be, after more than 200 years of our “Noble Experiment” at the forefront of morality for this world.
Andrew Rosen, Wellington