Op-ed: Denton’s Confederate statue must come down from its perch

Op-ed: Denton’s Confederate statue must come down from its perch

Op-ed: Denton’s Confederate statue must come down from its perch
September 20
20:01 2017

Editor’s note: UNT Student Government Association recently discussed a resolution to have the city of Denton remove the Confederate statue from the Denton Square. The proposal will be voted on by SGA next week. SGA Senator Jordan Villarreal, who is spearheading the effort, wrote an op-ed to explain the group’s stance. 

The horror that transpired at Charlottesville — the carnage, the violence, the racist chants — all stemmed around the planned removal of a Confederate statue at the University of Virginia. The monument became a rallying symbol for the white nationalists, the neo-Nazis and members of the now infamous alt-right.

We cannot let the same thing happen here. Our city cannot be the next set-piece for whatever bloody white nationalist rally may follow Charlottesville. If you think it will not happen here, in a city so ostensibly progressive, then you are partially right.

It will not happen here because it is already happening.

In mid-August, a dozen neo-Confederates, from an out-of-state organization, decided to pay our town center a visit. They brought with them semi-automatic weapons and Dixie battle flags. Groups from around the country will now use our great and fair city as a launching ground for perverse agendas.

Forgetting for a moment that the nearest battle to Denton County was over 350 miles away at Sabine Pass, you might say the statue itself simply represents the lives lost in the war?

Maybe no sinister or malevolent motive exists for its creation? Sadly, this assumption would be entirely wrong.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned Denton County’s Confederate memorial in 1918, 53 years after the last battle of the Civil War. The UDC perpetuated and cultivated the new, “Lost Cause” philosophy during the Jim Crow era.

They portrayed the Confederacy’s acts as heroic and downplayed the impact and extent of slavery during the secessionist era. They even went so far as to state it was, “erected… in memory of the Confederate soldiers, who in heroic self-sacrifice and devoted loyalty gave their manhood and their lives to the south in her hour of need.”

The statue, and its engraving, offer nothing of historical or artistic worth. It is a mass-produced, cheaply made propaganda piece from a bygone era.

Some of you may argue that a “few” bad eggs using a historical memorial for their lost cause should not lead to the statue’s removal from county grounds. You may be told that the memorial is part of history, that the Confederacy was truly a noble cause or that the slavery wasn’t the catalyst for secession and the Civil War. These revisionist sentiments are all categorically false, and can easily be dismissed with proper historical and contextual facts.

The Confederate States of America was founded specifically and explicitly for the preservation of slavery, particularly the enslavement of African-Americans. This is not my opinion or callous inference, this is what the government and states claimed when the seceded.

In Texas’ Declaration of Causes of Secession, slavery is mentioned 21 times throughout the document. With regards to this, and since everything must be bigger in the Lone Star State, the writers of the clause state that, “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity…”

Does not sound like a war for states’ rights and individual liberty to me.

Lest you think it was just Texas, Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederate States of America, and the moderating force in the Confederacy’s executive branch concretes this idea.

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that [blacks] are not equal to the white man,” Stephens wrote. “Slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

The statue, its creators and the cause it glorifies do not stand in line with UNT’s values. It runs contradictory to our values and beliefs as Americans. It stands firmly against the notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If we truly want to progress as a society, if we want to move past this relic of hatred, then the statue must come down from its perch.

Featured image: In front of the Confederate soldier statue on the Denton Square, protestors make their signs against the monument. File.

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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