The talk of our great commonwealth is dreadful affair in Virginia and its implications for our people as a whole. After some of our nation’s more unsavory elements besieged, torches and all, a statue of a divisive general of our civil war, the nation is reconsidering the centrality of such monuments in society. It has pitted neighbor against neighbor, family against family, as we decide the fates of these metal simulcrons of Southern culture. The crux of the issue is that these monuments represent a period of our history many would not like to venerate, but that for others they are part of an important heritage. To some it seems there is no good resolution to this tension.
After lengthy consideration, however, I believe I have arrived at a solution which may benefit all parties to the controversy. However, for the consideration of the reader, I will briefly present three proposals I have rejected as inadequate.
It may at first seem that we should overrule the objections of those in the South who wish to leave these sculptures and engravings intact and in place. Yet, the source of the present discord is readily evident to even the most casual reader of the nation’s august periodicals. Southerners cannot abide by Yankees telling them what to do—indeed, this is quite probably the clearest heritage they have received from their ancestors, moreso than even the discordant memorials to the various Confederate military men. To be a Southerner is to vociferously oppose the influence of the North on all matters political, moral, and religious. In light of this pride, we must readily concede that the recommendations of liberal, Northeast publications will be stillborn as soon as it is delivered and, rather to the contrary, is likely to inflame the passions of the South beyond what we have so far endured. Such obstinance does not benefit our great commonwealth, so it seems we are at an impasse. As a result, we cannot simply remove the memorials by will of the North, no matter how morally pressing we may feel it is.
It is further tempting to allow the South to form its own country so as to better carry on its legacy. After all, much of the present strife is derived from denying The Confederacy the opportunity to carry on its experiment. I would agree with those enthusiastic supporters of the once but not quite future confederation of American states who say this would solve the question of the monuments. However, there are numerous defects to this plan. The economic fates of Atlanta and Chicago, for instance, are bound too tightly to initiate customs and duties between the two. The State Governments require funds in excess of many billions of American dollars from Washington to carry on their business and the interruption of such services would be a regional catastrophe. The question alone of what to do with those citizens who would wish to find themselves on the other side of Mason-Dixon line would be a greater one than the problem this essay endeavors to solve! It would be as a man who finds his house has mice then choosing to fill it with rattlesnakes; it would solve the original problem, but create problems for those who do not entirely approve of the Gadsden flag. Astute reader, I hope you shall reject this plan as more trouble than it is worth.
With so much trouble in the previous two options, the reader would be forgiven if he considered leaving them in place a tolerable option. However, for many Southerners, not to mention the rest of the Union, they are in fact morally odious blights that truly ought to come down. The crimes of the South and the Confederacy are far too numerous to list at length, so I beg you to allow an overview of slavery to suffice. There were two main ways for unfortunate human beings to find themselves as chattel slaves, either born that way by chance or kidnapped from their nation of birth. In the latter case, they endured the traumas of separation from their families and a harrowing, crowded passage to the New World. In the former, they were denied education and forced to work from a young age. They lived on meager rations, lacked freedom to marry who they will, could be murdered for actions you and I enjoy as unquestionable rights, and had no recourse to the cruelty of their masters. Confederate icons were unambiguous about their intention to preserve slavery as a motivating factor in founding their new nation, and so we cannot ignore that and allow them to stand.
It might appear that we are at an impasse—with no way to remove these monuments but no way to tolerate them either. Fear not, dear reader, as I believe I have a solution to the problem. If you will permit me to be immodest, it has the benefits of getting the outcome so many of us desire while placing Southern tradition at the forefront. I shall, in due course, deal with any objection the reader may have, and so both rid us of these unsightly statues while reinvigorating southern culture.
We shall put the question of these monuments to a poll.
If that sounds preposterous, I would hazard to guess that is because the reader is a Yankee and untrained in the refined culture of the South. The democratic tradition in the Southern states has features which, though they from time to time make their appearances at higher latitudes, have never been raised to unspoken moral code in the North. It would be a mistake to believe that a democratic vote in the old Confederacy should serve to determine what the majority want, but rather we should seek to reach a predetermined conclusion by limiting who may vote. I am, therefore, proposing that we bar white people in the South from participating in this poll.
Southerners may object that such a thing is racist, but that is of course not in keeping with Southern culture. Whenever I or other interloping Northerners have raised the question of racism in this sort of practice, we are met with detailed remonstrations informing us that such practices were not indeed racist! I do not anticipate any true supporter of Southern culture to raise the issue, and would entreat them to help me convince the impostors that their heritage dictates they should support my plan.
But what if they are unwilling to oblige? Southern culture has an answer for this as well. Eligible voters shall form a secret society to prevent white Southerners from attempting to sway the outcome of the poll. By day, these will be respectable members of the community, but by night they will cover their faces and do what is necessary to preserve Southern heritage and pressure white voters to give up enfranchisement on pain of death. Yes, to the Yankee it will probably seem barbaric to burn a cross on their lawn, tar and feather them, or even lynch them—but again, the Yankee cannot be expected to understand the refinement of Southern culture when his only exposure comes from the moving picture Gone with the Wind. Contrary to that idyllic vision of the South, white Dixie has never shied from visiting violence on those who would oppose the greater good. The time has come for them to do their part and be on the receiving end.
Another objection is that this ingenious solution could be thwarted by white people in state governments. However, this problem has already been solved. Any true defender of that most reified Southern culture would resign immediately so as not to be tempted to allow their biases to change the outcome; they insisted that no black members of their commonwealths serve for many years under the same cultural paradigm. And if they still stubbornly cling to their power even when it is clear that it is their moral duty to abdicate? Why, the aforementioned secret society can insist in the night that they do. Indeed, this complication is quite trivial upon closer consideration.
I realize that I myself am a Yankee, but I have made considerable study of the arguments that white Southerners make in favor of their culture and I am certain they will find my proposal conforms to all the important ones. Unless they are willing to abandon their culture because they find this arrangement inadequate—and I do not believe such a proud people will—it seems that they must immediately allow a government with no white people and hold this poll with no white people. Having satisfied both the desires of Northerners to rid this nation of Confederate monuments and upheld the South’s most loudly expressed cultural values, we can put this most unsettling conflict behind us. I look forward to a Swift change in government South of the Mason-Dixon line.