In the past few weeks, the country has been discussing, once again, the removal of Confederate statues and monuments. I have been flabbergasted to see people who identify as strong conservatives defending the Confederacy in the year of our lord, 2020. The Civil War ended in 1865. The Confederacy came into existence in 1861 Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens dated longer than the Confederacy lasted, and yet people who claim to value American principles and small government ideals are out here acting as if Robert E Lee is a boyfriend who they’re trying to convince their parents to let them date.
“He wasn’t that bad”
“He’s complicated. You just wouldn’t understand.”
“Well if I don’t date him, what about someone else who might be bad too?”
I won’t go into why removing a statue isn’t the same as erasing history, but I want to illuminate five reasons why it is NOT conservative to be supporting the Confederacy–and that includes demanding statues not be removed from public squares and that that darned flag still fly–in 2020. We’ve come a long way as a country. Don’t try and go back. We won for a reason.
Being pro-life is being anti-slavery
We all know that a primary factor in the Civil War was slavery. You can argue that it wasn’t the entire premise, you can argue what you want about the people involved and their own feelings towards slavery, but the fact is that slavery was at stake in the Civil War. People decided to take up arms, betray their nation, and divide the country in order to protect the institution of slavery. We all know that slavery is bad, right? And if we’re pro-life conservatives, we need to condemn slavery–past and present–and all those who worked to uphold it. Enslaved people were people too, and their lives mattered, and they never should have been held in bondage. If you disagree with that sentiment, especially in the year 2020, you’re not conservative. When you, as a conservative, try to defend the Confederacy or Confederate leaders who held slaves in 2020, you’re going against your pro-life values. You wouldn’t want a statue of Margaret Sanger, would you? She arguably had a bigger impact on the world than Robert E Lee, but we recognize that her actions were antithetical to our beliefs. Why can’t we all agree that Robert E Lee and other leaders of the Confederacy–whose views on slavery may truly have been complicated, but they still fought to defend the institution.
We don’t reward losers & traitors
Remember “Lock Her Up” chants over emails? Conservatives wanted to charge Clinton for emails but think traitors who divided the nation deserve statues? I think not. Similarly, we make fun of Stacey Abrams for never letting go of her failed attempt to be the Governor of Georgia, but how then can we want to wave the flag of a failed nation that lost the war, fair and square? Conservatives don’t like losers, and we don’t like traitors, and that is what Confederate leaders are. They fought and they lost. They betrayed their nation, the oaths they took to this country, and they don’t deserve to be proudly displayed and honored in time squares. We can study them in museums and history books like all the other losers. I don’t want a statue of Benedict Arnold in the town square, and I don’t want a statue of Robert E Lee or Jefferson Davis either.
The Confederacy wasn’t a “tradition”–it was anti-tradition
I see a lot of “heritage” and “tradition” talk thrown around with the Confederacy, but unless you can trace your family heritage directly to soldiers who died in the war, I don’t get it. And even then…maybe it’s time to move on. The Confederacy lasted for less than 5 years. That’s barely a presidential term. It’s less than a Senate term! And yet there are almost two thousand statues and monuments to Confederate leaders around the country. Can you imagine if we gave every Senator a dozen statues just for making it six years? That’d be silly. We know that betraying a nation for five years in order to protect a way of life that we know is bad is antithetical to the ideals that America was founded on. That’s why they had to break away from America. They didn’t want to be a part of this country, so why is our country letting them stand in our halls centuries later?
One also has to ask…whose “heritage” is being remembered? And whose heritage is being erased and stepped on by keeping Confederate statues prominently displayed?
We oppose involuntary collectivism
Conservatives don’t like group think, and if you read about the Confederacy, you see that the Confederacy thrived on involuntary collectivism. Slavery aside–which is an evil of itself–people fought in the Confederate army to defend a way of life that many of them were not apart of. They fought against the Union that wanted to end slavery even if they themselves didn’t own slaves. Why? Involuntary collectivism. The Confederacy wanted people to feel this obligation to their “culture” even if they weren’t truly a part of that culture. Of course, not standing up to stop slavery is also bad, but people who fought to defend slavery and other Confederate ideals against the Union–against the United States–were forced into involuntary collectivism that we as conservatives in 2020 openly mock. Many, many Confederate soldiers would have been better off under a society that didn’t have slavery. They were still compelled by the Confederacy to fight to defend this “way of life.” That’s not what America stands for. If you’re a conservative, you should know that.
Statuary and idolism fails Christian conservatism
Now, not every conservative identifies as a Christian, and that’s fine! But, many do, and if you’re a conservative who is a Christian, you should not be out here upset that these statues of Confederate leaders are being torn down. The Bible says not to create false idols and images to worship, and while we know that all statues are not akin to false idols, the Confederate statues that people are trying to have removed are pretty similar. Think about it. They were men who tried to lead the world astray. They tried to divert attention, to divert faith, to break up the Union and the United States. Would God want you spending your time arguing, fighting, and advocating for a stone idol of a false prophet? No, he wouldn’t. Of course, this raises larger questions about statuary in general–but at the end of the day, treating these Confederate statues like idols–and many people do in an attempt to defend them–is against Biblical preaching.