Oh brother. It seems lately that a lot of people are having a dang hard time understanding what history is. Let’s start with what it isn’t: the present.
As all the hoopla began, the supposed Confederate flag’s role in causing offense and confusion has set the stage for some local drama. To begin with, it is the battle flag of Northern Virginia. This makes it kinda weird and sad to have become so dimwittedly applied to everything. Last noted, Frederick is not in Northern Virginia, much to the delight of many Fredericktonians. After the war even Robert E. Confederacy Himself Lee called for it to be put away. It fell out of favor naturally. Probably because it is a symbol of the lost cause, losers. It also smacks of treason, patriots. Cognititve dissonance. ARGH. Pathetic, without even considering the feeble semantic gymnastics surrounding states’ rights to allow ownership of people as property. During the Civil Rights Era Dixiecrats started slapping the thing up left and right. Leaving it to you to speculate what kinship they found with the noble cause of states’ rights (hahahaha) at the same time people with higher concentrations of melanin in their skin worked to gain individual rights. Such a weird, weird coincidence.
“Maryland, My Maryland” has also been causing some Marylanders to feel ill-at-ease now that it is 2015, and this bit of crappy poesie is pretty gosh durn embarrassing. Our state delegate from District 3A in Frederick, Karen Young, has proposed possibly re-modernizing our state song again. Yep, again. It turns out this song was not handed down from the heavens on stone tablets when the state was first settled by the Euros, but was adopted in 1939. A smattering of rhyming secessionist sentiment set to German Christmas music urges the state to leave the union–which it did not in 1861 and most definitely not in 1939. It also quotes the words shouted by John Wilkes Booth immediately before assassinating Lincoln. Let’s let it be part of the past. History is historical. Duh. Pretty sure even Bill S. Preston, esq. and Ted Theodore Logan knew that much. This thing is barely even that, as weakly connected as it is to the state and reality.
Moving along with our local drama. At this late date it’s getting awkward to leave the bust of old dead dude Roger Brooke Taney in front of our nice city hall. Taney was a noteworthy racist. He didn’t just think slavery made good states’ rights kinda sense (whatevs; not a great argument in that dumb form either). He was disgraceful. Take the ugly bust, shove it in Roger Brooke Taney’s house that is rarely open, and have a conversation in front of him about how things change all the dang time, thank goodness.
Germany does not fly old flags with swastikas (anywhere, that’s illegal, even on Josef Blow’s truck) or have bronze lumps of Hitler seated in front of their municipal structures. Still, through some mysterious force (books, television, museums, podcasts, and websites–did it come up already that it is 2015???) that part of history remains well documented. We can remember without putting people who have advocated for atrocities in positions typically reserved for those we seek to honor. As a society we reevaluate what is respectable, while also considering the context of those times. Move it, don’t melt the bronze down and make something else. THAT would be destroying history.
Like sands of the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.