How far equality has come; History key to prevent racist past — Letters to the Editor, June 13, 2020


Important to remember how far equality has come

I find myself confused and, frankly, concerned about the aftermath of the George Floyd murder. As an immigrant, I was not raised in the U.S. and admittedly still have limited understanding of some aspects of American society so I’m only working with what I can observe.

It seems like pretty much 100 percent of the population already agree that the Floyd murder was wrong. The bad guy is in jail on murder charges; the other participating cops, two of whom are minorities themselves, are facing charges as well. 

To me, that sounds like justice being served.

The riots and looting are supposedly because of “systemic racism.” It is true that racism was a big issue in the past, like pretty much everywhere in the world. The slave trade in Africa and the Arab world was a huge, established business that the American colonies tapped into for cheap labor.

But America voluntarily ended slavery long before any of the African or Arab countries.

Slavery ended in Saudi Arabia and Yemen as late as 1962; Mauretania and UAE are accused of maintaining the practice to this day.

And it bears repeating that America did it by choice, not by force — because it was the right thing to do. Many, many white men died for it. 

As we honored the fallen of D-Day recently, it should not be forgotten how many white American men died to stop Adolf either. If America truly was so keen on white supremacy, it seems odd that over 400,000 whites gave their lives fighting it.

The Jim Crow-era was bad, but decidedly better than what came before it. The following decades saw continuous improvement, culminating in the first black President. If we were to plot a timeline of race relations, most can agree that America started with “Really bad” back in the days of the first plantations. This has gradually improved through hard work and determination by whites and blacks alike, and today we have moved maybe 95 percent of the way to “Good.” 

In my mind, this is a great achievement to be celebrated. Perhaps it would be more constructive to keep our eyes on what made the 95 percent happen and let the last 5 percent heal in peace? 

—Matt Danielsson 

Florence

Historical context is key to not repeating racist past  

I’m writing in response to Joel Marks’ letter (General Lee’s Greatness Should Not Be Disposed Of,” June 10).

Gen. Lee was an outstanding military tactician. Not just during the Civil War, he also served the U.S. honorably during an earlier American war. However, we need to understand the historical context regarding his statue.

  1. Many have said that the Civil War was about state’s rights. However, at the top of that list of state’s rights was the ability to grant its citizens the right to own, buy and sell human beings (now known as “human trafficking.”) Lee did fight bravely and brilliantly for this cause. But the cause — in and of itself — is one I feel should not be celebrated by our country.
  2. This statue was undoubtedly erected when hundreds upon hundreds of other monuments to the Confederacy were erected. This period started with the passing of “Jim Crow” laws, from about 1890-1910 and lasted decades afterward. State legislators across the South revised state constitutions to disenfranchise African-Americans.

These monuments were erected to broadcast the belief in white supremacy. The primary purpose of these monuments was not so much to honor the specific named individuals but to publicly announce white rule. 

I’m also a bit torn about the destruction of Confederacy monuments (I may need to hand in my “liberal” card.) Sadly, they celebrate human trafficking. But still, if they are given the full and complete historical context of the racism represented by them, they may help educate future generations about the troubled history of our beloved country.

—Rob Welles

Florence

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