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The Confederate Problem

The Confederate statue in front of the Holmes County courthouse in Lexington salutes the "heroism," "glory" and "patriotism" of the soldiers, alluding to the cause, but not stating it outright.
Credit: Donna Ladd

The Confederate statue in front of the Holmes County courthouse in Lexington salutes the "heroism," "glory" and "patriotism" of the soldiers, alluding to the cause, but not stating it outright. Credit: Donna Ladd Photo by Donna Ladd.

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Duvalier Malone

When our nation is defined by images of white supremacists, we have a serious problem

How do we want to define our country? That is the question that has been hanging over the entire nation ever since we all watched a rally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis as they marched on the University of Virginia campus, carrying torches and spewing hate.

These white supremacists are card-carrying members of various racist and antisemitic groups, as many of them proudly admitted during their interview with HBO's VICE. They are also supporters of the Confederate image, and they have gone on record to say that they want to take America back to the days of blatant white privilege.

In the aftermath of the march, white supremacist leaders have taken solace in the fact that President Trump has refused to condemn their actions. Instead, he has skirted around the issue, declaring that there are "good" neo-Nazis. After President Trump's now-infamous press conference, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted out his thanks to the President for his support.

The leaders of these white supremacist groups are proud of their actions. They don't care that everything they are doing goes against the very principles on which this country was founded. They don't care that their message of hate has been taken as a directive by various individuals as they commit horrible crimes. They don't care that one of their members plowed his car into a crowd of innocent people, and murdered Heather Heyer, a young woman who was simply exercising her right as an American to protest and speak up for what she felt was right.

So how do we define our country?

Facts about Mississippi, Secession, Slavery and the Confederacy

The JFP’s archives of historically factual stories about slavery, secession and the Civil War in Mississippi, with lots of links to primary documents.

For decades, Americans have held ourselves out as a moral standard: as an example that other nations should look to and follow. Very few have disagreed with that position, because the world has always recognized that although we may have made mistakes yesterday, we have never refused to condemn those mistakes as we moved forward into the progress of tomorrow.

But it seems that this is now changing. America is in the middle of a revolution of some sort. What it means, I'm not sure; but there's no doubt that this moment in history will define our country in the future.

What each of us does, matters—now more than ever. Each American has a duty to follow his or her moral conscience.

But at the forefront of some 320 million American citizens, stands our president. Our nation has always looked to each one of our presidents in our darkest hours. We have always been comforted by the fact that no matter how bleak our future seemed, we could always look for the shining light on the hill in the form of our president.

Up until now, every president has come out before us to inspire us to be better, and encourage us to do what we all know is right. The President of the United States has always borne the responsibility of lighting the torch of justice within the heart of each American citizen. And somehow, no matter who has held that esteemed position as the leader of the free world, they always seemed to have the right words that would calm, inspire, encourage and renew.

But what happens when we don't have that anymore?

Throughout his entire presidential campaign, President Trump proudly championed the message of violence, bigotry, racism, sexism and classism. He carried that message right through the White House doors, and now we are experiencing the result of electing a man who simply does not care about America.

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It's hard to say, but I truly feel that President Trump does not care about our country. Otherwise, why would he work so hard to divide us?

There is now a clear rift that exists between American citizens. We have always used the terms "right" and "left"; but during the last week, those terms have taken on new meanings. Both sides are entrenching themselves in their respective ideologies, as they prepare for more confrontations in the future. And throughout all this, it seems that our president is gleaning some sort of enjoyment watching clashes between the citizens that he leads.

By voicing his support for Confederate images and statues, President Trump is sending a clear dog whistle to the racists in America. That is what Confederate relics have become: a rallying cry for racists.

If for no other reason than the controversy that surrounds them, these Confederate images should be removed from our culture. Send them to museums where they belong. Remove the Confederate image from the Mississippi state flag. If you say it represents your history, then I'm here to tell you: History belongs in a museum.

We are at a crucial moment in our history that will define our country to the world for decades to come. Is America founded on principles of freedom and justice for all, built upon pillars of respect for our fellow man and woman? Or is our foundation based on something cruder: the judgment of men and women by the color of their skin, instead of the content of their character, and hating anything that is different from ourselves?

The very fiber of America is at risk.

Where do you stand? This is the question that each American must ask ourselves. This is the time where we must decide what kind of country we will be.

I've said it before, and I will say it again and again, as many times as I have to: The Confederate symbol represents bigotry, racism and hatred. This is not an opinion. This is a fact.

The Confederate flag has been used as cover for hate groups who exist only to victimize a segment of our population. It's time that we finally pull the covers away, and expose these harbingers of hate for what they really are.

Heather Heyer didn't deserve to die; and neither does anyone else.

We cannot let our country be pulled back into the darkness. The long night of racism, hatred and bigotry must finally come to an end.

Read JFP's archives of historically factual stories about slavery, secession, the Civil War in Mississippi, Confederate monuments, the state flag and more at jfp.ms/slavery.


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