In response to the “humble” request by Spencer Lewis to have the Confederate soldier statue removed from the Newnan courthouse, I cannot help but feel embarrassed for this resident for his misguided, inaccurate and even puerile reasoning.
In an effort to make his case, he mixes truths with speculation, opinion and falsehoods in an apparent attempt to create controversy where none existed before. In particular, he insults and smears the memory not only of soldiers who bravely fought and died defending their homes and families, he defames the women of the postwar South who sought only to honor their brothers, sons and husbands.
His statement that “men who believe in slavery so much they committed treason against the Union and fired the first shots of the Civil War” sounds like something spoken by a student in a third grade classroom. The causes of the Civil War are complex enough that such a statement by an adult eliminates any hope of a meaningful discourse on the topic. But to assign the label of racist, white supremacist or traitor to brave soldiers fighting for their hoemeland is certainly egregious.
In a previous NTH article in which “Commissioners were asked to rethink Confederate monuments,” Mr. Lewis asked the question, “Does it reflect Coweta County and the views of the county that we are proud of our Confederate Heritage?” The monuments specifically mentioned are those dedicated to the soldiers who fought and died in defense of their families, their homes, and their newly created nation.
These were the sons and daughters of the heroes of the American Revolution fighting what they perceived as the second war for independence; not from a king this time, but from an oppressive federal government. They were our ancestors who rose up when called upon to face an invading army and willingly sacrificed all to do so.
William Thomas Overby, a Coweta County native also mentioned by Mr. Lewis, displayed loyalty, devotion and bravery to give up his own life to protect his compatriots. Are these not the very values that we should exalt and honor? Are these not the standards we want to emulate as a community and as a nation?
Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, an Irishman who believed in emancipation of Southern slaves and was an early advocate for the mobilization of Black men into Confederate military units, when asked why it was crucial that the South prevail replied, “Surrender means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by all the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors and our maimed veterans as fit subjects for derision.”
He expounded further that “it is said that slavery is what we are fighting for … Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not what our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”
Mr. Lewis is apparently a product of that public school curriculum and his weak grasp of history is certainly an indictment of it. But in our current political environment, history and heritage take a back seat to the petulant whining of a generation that has been drinking the Kool Aid of Woke-ness for so long they have no interest in facts or reason. From Antifa to BLM, we have become deluged with an entire generation who have nothing in their lives but a desire for dissension and acrimony.
Like spoiled children begging for attention, they attack their own history, their own families, their own country, all in an effort to find some sense of personal relevance. When the Taliban or ISIS destroy historic monuments in the Middle East we call them evil, barbaric and savage, yet when American citizens do the same in their own homeland we call them “progressive.”
As difficult as it is to accept, they are all cut from the same cloth. We should not allow this small minority of malcontents to dictate public policy. Better yet, put it to a vote on the next ballot and once and for all allow the will of the people to prevail.
Left to “The People,” I believe these monuments and many like them throughout the country will remain steadfastly where they currently stand.
Michael Stewart, PhD