Is the GOP complicit in destroying Confederate memorials?

By Carole Hornsby Haynes

In the midst of a national racial and political upheaval, Republicans cut a deal for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that created a Naming Commission to “remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America … or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense.” As a part of that provision, Arlington National Cemetery has been ordered to remove the 109-year-old Confederate Memorial, conceived and built with the sole purpose of healing the wounds of the Civil War and restoring national harmony.

President Trump vetoed the bill on Dec. 23, 2020, but a bipartisan Congress overrode the veto by a wide margin (House vote, Senate vote). President Biden replaced Trump’s appointees to the Naming Commission, presumably to ensure a specific outcome. In his essay in the Wall Stree Journal, former senator and former Secretary of the Navy James Webb attacks the 2021 NDAA as being written “with surprising overbroadness,” seeming to indicate a partisan political position.

Now we learn from Haley Wilson, legislative director for House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, why the sweeping sentence was included in a nearly trillion-dollar piece of legislation.

Following the death of George Floyd, Sen. Elizabeth Warren ranted about “Confederate officers who took up arms against the United States in the defense of chattel slavery” and promised to file an amendment to require the secretary of defense to remove Confederate names from all military assets. Republicans, in an unconstitutional and divisive effort, cut a deal they claimed would prevent further removal of monuments. An astute observer would ask if Republicans really think this deal will stop further demolition of our heritage.

In her essay, “Reconciliation,” art historian Dr. Ann Hunter McLean questions, “Is it part of a long range plan to purge Confederate Circle altogether?” She notes that, to make room for modern graves during the current expansion of the limited real estate in Arlington National Cemetery, remains of Native American children were exhumed and “repatriated.” Could there be a larger, more sinister plan to free up space that begins with the removal of the centerpiece of the Confederate Circle and followed in due time by a mass exhumation?

We can see a historical parallel between the actions of today’s Republicans and the Radical Republicans of the 1800s.

The new Republican Party was a purely regional political party that favored a strong national government, industrialization, commerce, finance and the interests of the wealthy. The Northern capitalists wanted to use the federal government to force the South to pay the costs of industrializing the nation. The plan was to dramatically increase the protective tariff, which Republicans promised if they were elected in 1860.

The tariff was a major issue because 95% of the federal government’s revenue came from a tariff on imported goods that helped Northern states but hurt the South because it was agrarian with few factories to protect. More than 83% of that revenue was tariffs collected at Southern ports, especially on imports from France and Great Britain. Yet more than 75% of this tax revenue was spent on Northern public works and industrial subsidies, fueling animosity between the states.

Securing control of the presidency and both Houses of Congress in 1860, Republicans enacted the Morrill Tariff, which prompted Southern secession. By 1865 the tariff had risen above 47%t and did not drop below 40% until President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. The Republicans’ high tariffs resulted in an enormous transfer of wealth from the South to the North, decade after decade.

Today the Republican Party claims to favor a limited government and support of the interests of the people. In reality, it aligns with the Democratic philosophy of big, centralized government with laws that enrich a few at the expense of the economic and personal freedoms of the rest of Americans.

The present-day vilification of the Confederacy is part of a long-term ideological war being waged against the conservative South for the purpose of destroying Southerners as a people and rendering them socially, politically and economically impotent. These secular humanist propagandists, in their zeal to demonize the Christian South, have made the word “slavery” synonymous with “guilt” and “the white South.”

Republicans were complicit with Democrats in removing Confederate monuments from the U.S. Capitol in 2020. Public comments to justify their votes showed a profound historical ignorance. Now Republicans are complicit in tearing down a monument that is a symbol of the reconciliation – a healing of wounds – between North and South after a long and bitter war.

President William McKinley, Union soldier-turned-president, proposed the concept of the site at Arlington for the graves and memorial to honor those Americans against whom he had once fought. He understood what today’s monument smashers do not seem to get: that Confederate soldiers were not fighting to preserve slavery. In 1860 only 5% of Southern whites owned slaves, and less than 25% benefited economically from slavery. Yet 258,000 Confederate soldiers, few of whom owned slaves, died in the war. The Confederate soldier who wrote the inscription for the Confederate Memorial understood it well and so do most veterans who have fought in America’s wars.

“Not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank; not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity; but in simple obedience to duty as they understood it; these men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all, and died.”

It’s up to the American people, the majority of whom do not want the Confederate Monument removed, to stop the cultural cleansing of our nation.

We have an opportunity to stop the Naming Commission with an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Georgia U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde. The amendment will prohibit any of the funding from being used to implement or enforce recommendations of the Naming Commission for any areas listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This amendment is slated for floor consideration the week of Sept. 11.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee. Her office needs to hear from the American people that we want the amendment passed. Our individual U.S. representatives also need to hear that we want federal funding for cultural cleansing of America to stop.

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