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Monuments To The Confederacy In Question As Cities Across Country Debate Taking Them Down In Wake Of Charlottesville

A Confederate monument featuring a statue of a Confederate soldier is seen at the Ocala Veterans Park in Ocala, Florida. | Source: Joe Raedle / Getty

Republican legislators in Florida are hard at work reminding us that while a full and accurate telling of Black American history simply isn’t a priority, the preservation of monuments celebrating Americans who fought for the preservation of slavery is of the utmost importance.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, bills that would prevent the removal of historic state monuments, namely Confederate statues, and would allow for local government bodies to be sued over the removal of such monuments are moving through both the state Senate and House.

MORE: When Effigies Of Hate Burn: Robert E. Lee Statue Melted Down In Charlottesville

And if conservatives need a little help understanding why the forced preservation of Confederate memorabilia is inherently racist—you know, besides the fact that the Confederacy only existed to keep Black people in generational bondage, terror and forced labor—they needn’t look any further than the loud and proud white supremacist who argued in defense of Senate Bill 1122.

From the Times:

On Tuesday, the Senate Community Affairs Committee voted favorably on SB 1122, but not without contention. Many of those who spoke in opposition of the legislation at Tuesday’s meeting viewed the bill as a tactic to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments and also opposed the fact that the bill would take power away from local governments. Those who spoke in favor of the bill said they viewed it as a way to protect history — one commenter specifically said he was in favor of the bill as he saw it as a way to protect “white society.”

“This product of the removal of statues of historical significance that are over 100 years old is a part of the cultural war being waged against White society,” said Live Oak attorney Charles Patrick, a self-proclaimed white supremacist who supports the bill protecting the legacies of historic self-proclaimed white supremacists.

“In supporting White culture, or supporting the concept or the need to push white supremacy is what I heard. White culture, white supremacy. I just want to clarify that was your intent in your public testimony here today,” Senator Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami) said addressing Patrick, to which he responded, “Yes, it was.”

I’ve often commented on how inconvenient it must be for Republicans that white nationalists identify so deeply with the party while it’s desperately trying to shed its white nationalist image. This has especially been the case in Florida, where, just last year, neo-Nazis marched outside of Disney World while staging demonstrations on behalf of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the white-and-supreme hater of  Black historyBlack inclusionBlack congressional districtsBlack voters and Black Lives Matter. Sooner or later, the GOP will have to come to glory on the fact that it is the nature of the party—the very fact that they push bills like SB 1122 and the similar House bill, HB 395—that brings all the white supremacists to their yard.

The only real difference between Patrick and your average Republican is that Patrick is willing to come right out and say that these bills are about protecting whiteness and the preservation of white supremacy, not history.

Monuments aren’t erected to record history—that’s what history books and historical documents are for—they’re erected to commemorate it. Every statue built and erected for Confederate General Robert E. Lee is an ode to slavery. Every monument unveiled to celebrate Confederate President Jefferson Davis is effectively a celebration of institutional racism and abject cruelty towards Black people. Every Confederate flag is a symbol of white supremacy. And that’s not just by happenstance, it’s by design.

From WFME:

Opponents, like Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida’s Ida Smith, brought up how most confederate monuments were constructed during the Jim Crow era as a symbol of White Supremacy.

“They were there to make sure Black communities understood that they were not welcome. Which is why, following the erection of all these statues, over 800 in America, we saw what was known as the great migration, where Black communities fled the South to go to the North,” she said.

Many of the nation’s Confederate Monuments were first erected in the 1890s following reconstruction, and the 1920s and 30s following the establishment of anti-Black, Jim Crow era laws. The second wave of such monuments came during the Civil Rights movement. For many Black Americans, symbols like confederate monuments are inextricably tied to hatred, racism and white supremacy. And the words of defenders signal an endorsement of, and re-enforcement of those perceptions.

As anti-critical race theory as Florida Republicans and Republicans in general are, they consistently demonstrate why the academic study is valid and necessary. Out of one side of their necks, they insist that America isn’t and never has been a racist country, and out of the other side, they fight like hell to protect the legacies of everything that documents the nation’s systemic racism.

Anyway, as of now, the future of Florida’s legislation is uncertain. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) appears to have gotten cold feet regarding SB1122, which appears to be a result of the white supremacist endorsement the bill got at Tuesday’s meeting, which she called “abhorrent behavior.”

“There are problems with the bill. More than that, there are problems in perceptions among our caucus, on all sides. So, I’m going to take that into consideration. I’m not going to bring a bill to the floor that is so abhorrent to everybody,” she said.

Yeah—the bill didn’t suddenly become “abhorrent” the second an explicitly racist white man spoke in favor of it. It was a nod to white supremacy from its inception. So, maybe start there.


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