I feel like I could take a rock, drop it on a table at a bar, ask what it is and a fistfight would eventually break out.
Some would call it rock, others a pebble, others a stone and the faux outrage would consume someone to the point of wanting to inflict violence.
That scenario isn’t far off from the coming “debate” about returning the Confederate monument to where it had stood for decades at the Manatee County Courthouse.
After all, it’s basically a large rock with scribbling on it, mentioning some Confederate generals and those in the area who decided to support the Confederacy against the Union.
I get both sides of the argument. Yes, the south took up arms against the Union, and yes we should never forget or try to erase our history.
So many people really don’t understand the politics behind the Civil War, and I’m not here to provide that history yet again. In short, it had less to do with slavery and more to do with state rights and what the south viewed to be unfair taxes.
Slavery became the focal point, but it wasn’t the launching point of the Civil War. Robert E. Lee, whose name graces the Manatee County monument, abhorred slavery. It was strictly a state rights issue for Lee who would not tolerate an armed Federal army crossing the border into his beloved Virginia.
Lee was a brilliant tactician and his strategies are still studied today.
I respect those who see Lee and the Confederacy as traitors but I stand on the historical side of the argument, but then again, history – military history in particular – is my passion.
Whether it be the Roman Empire, the rise of the Ottoman Empire or the uncanny irony of Korea’s history of being caught between wars going back to Japan’s samurai days.
If there is an article or documentary on ancient battles, the popcorn goes in the microwave and I’m all set to do some binge watching.
The Civil War has been a particular passion of mine and the trip I took to visit the various battlefields up and down the east coast was one of the best times of my life.
So if you want to discuss monuments with me outside of their historical significance, save it for those who can’t even tell you when – or sadly, where – the Civil War was fought and who won.
Those are the only ones you’ll convince that it’s necessary to tear down history.
Honestly, I think where you start to find the divide between common sense and being book smart is where your educational passion takes you.
I think those who are enthralled with math and science follow the book smart path while a passion for history – because one understands the importance of it – creates the common sense divide within the brain.
It’s a theory.
Florida, and Manatee County for that matter, have a rich history and I’d wager that most who live here don’t even realize it. There are a lot of residents who need to take a trip to the Manatee County Historical Society, but that only gives you a glimpse – a scratch on the surface if you will.
Florida wasn’t even 20 years as a state when the Civil War started and wasn’t much of a hot spot for conflict. It was still mostly wilderness and though voted for secession, had a lot of early residents who fought for both sides.
What gets me about these kinds of arguments is the faux outrage. I hear people angrily say, “We should tear down every statue of those traitors!”
So I’ll ask those who say things like that one thing: Were you there?
Then perhaps we should all remember that it is only with age that wisdom begins to appear. When we are young, we are mostly a product of our environment.
For those who get all angry about a piece of stone that pays homage to local history, I will declare one simple truth: You don’t know what you would have done at the time.
If you were born into a southern family in the 1840s and you as a young, vibrant 18-year-old learned the Federal army was coming to impose its will upon you, I’d wager you might have found yourself as a “traitor.”
If you were born into a Japanese war clan and told to go fight your fellow Japanese over a clan dispute, you’d probably draw your sword and charge into battle looking to chop off heads.
This is a fact that most Americans just don’t get. They don’t know how good they have it to be born into this country and to be protected in their bubbles by the 1 percent who are willing to take the fight somewhere else.
This, also, is a product of their environment. This also, are people who don’t appreciate, understand and honor history.
I see some elected officials already changing their tune over the faux outrage. I don’t want to accuse them of “caving,” per say.
After all, politicians should do what their constituents want them to do. But they also should be educated and self-aware enough to know when the constituent outrage is misplaced or just factually incorrect.
The thing about history is that it can’t be changed. But the other thing about history is when you try to change it by hiding it, you impact the only part of our lives that can be changed: The future.
If we can’t learn from history – especially our own – then this nation is quite simply creating an expiration date.
America is such a young country. Empires have stood for much longer, some for centuries, but they all came falling down at some point. The reason is almost always the same.
Either they got so complacent and argued over every little thing, they destroyed themselves like the Roman empire. Or they didn’t take the time to learn from history and were doomed to repeat it and thus conquered militarily.
If you look closely at America, either one of those scenarios can easily become reality.
We have certainly grown complacent and our internal arguing makes us weaker and weaker to outside influence.
So now we have those who will double our chances for eventual destruction by wanting to hide and destroy history so those that follow cannot learn from it and will most likely repeat it.
I call on the Manatee County Board of Commissioners to think this decision through in a more cerebral manner. Keep emotion out of the equation, both your own emotions and your constituents.
We can stop calling these types of things a “tribute” or that we “honor” them. That’s not the point of them. If it helps, call them “educational tools.”
This continued caving to wokeness will be our end. I always say to be vigilant and be informed. They aren’t just words. It’s a call to action.
I’m not for a “tribute.”
I’m for history because I understand and value its importance to make the future better. When it comes down to it, isn’t that the responsibility of each generation? To make America stronger and better for the next generation?
Will hiding history accomplish or hurt that goal?
So yeah, be vigilant and be informed before making a rash decision and don’t be influenced by those who are incapable of doing those basic things and would rather vent their own life frustrations toward a rock.