Efforts across the United States to remove public symbols of the Confederacy are happening all around us. Dukes of Hazzard was snatched off the air, the NAACP in Georgia is ready to remove the carvings in Stone Mountain, and Bree Newsome is now a household name. Things are changing… right?
So why is the North Carolina State Assembly still trying to pass Senate Bill 22? The bill seeks to ban the removal of “objects of remembrance” from public property. In other words, this bill is designed to protect confederate monuments and other “objects of remembrance” from being removed without an act from the North Carolina State Assembly and the approval of the governor.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dan Soucek, pointed out that this bill was proposed two months before the Charleston Massacre. He also stated the aim of the bill was to protect the monuments and other historical artifacts from “knee-jerk reactions.”
Sorry Senator Dan Soucek, but Confederate symbols coming down in southern states like Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina are not a “knee-jerk reactions”. It has been long overdue. According to history books, the Confederate Army lost that war and was succeeded by the United States. Therefore, neither the symbols nor the rhetoric have room in these United States of America. I am sure this bill doesn’t just protect symbols of the Confederacy. However, under this bill offensive inappropriately honored confederate objects will be protected.
Among those inappropriate monuments is our very own Vance Monument. Zebulon Vance, a Civil War Senator, Governor and First Colonel of the 26th North Carolina regiment was also a racist and criminal. I could care less if people want to create stone images and have memorials for dead people. However, these monuments cost money to maintain. I honestly don’t want my tax dollars to be spent commemorating “items of remembrance” of people who believed in and fought for me to be enslaved. It is unfair.
During the debate Rep. Michael Speciale stated, “I think that is a good reason why we need this—to stave off the flames of passion. Because once an item is destroyed, once an item is removed it is gone. It is removed, it is destroyed.” The Confederate paraphernalia needs to be put in museums. This way people who want to see and celebrate these things will have access. Let private donors pay for the countless restorations. My tax dollars need to go towards important things like public education, feeding the hungry, etc…
Zebulon Baird Vance has several monuments throughout the state of North Carolina. His image invokes the continued unfairness, injustice, and white supremacy that our Assembly seems to continuously uphold. This bill shows that the removal of confederate flags across this state were symbolic at best.
Rep. Larry Pittman, “History needs to be retained, you don’t know who you are without your history and we need to retain history. We need to face it, and like it or not like it is what is and we shouldn’t be trying to change it. I don’t think that government has the right to change what history is.” How is flying a surrendered flag maintaining history? African-Americans are pretty clear on the fact that we were enslaved and oppressed. How could we forget, Larry? There are healthcare, wage, technology and education gaps in our state to remind us everyday. We have no choice but to face our oppression head on. However, what is our Assembly doing to face the past?
Stone statues and other “items of remembrance” being protected, honored, and maintained by our state comes across as regressive and whitewashed. We have to get some of these people out of office. They don’t value all citizens and they carry old southern philosophies that are holding all of us back.