Jerry Carr: Memorials of disgrace

July 15, 2014 

The July 9 column “ Old N.C. heroes fall from favor” by Rob Christensen invokes the argument now popular among those who would defend the various memorials to slave owners and secessionist leaders that dot this state. This argument admonishes people not to judge leaders of earlier generations by today’s standards.

This assumes that a single standard existed, but there was always opposition to slavery. Slaves as well as some white Southerners opposed it, not to mention the Northern abolition movement.

To be sure, the dominant standard in the South was the standard of the oligarchs of the great slave plantations. When their plans to expand slavery into the new states were thwarted, they tried to destroy the United States.

Following the Civil War they created a new system of black labor exploitation, the share-cropping system and the system of racial segregation and disenfranchisement backed up by KKK militias. The North capitulated to this, and it was in this context that the memorials in question were erected; the South had risen again.

The memorials exist. Not to judge them as a disgrace is to capitulate to what they represent.

Jerry Carr

Chapel Hill

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