Confederate monuments recall black soldier bravery in our Civil War

In 2016, the Washington Post conducted a poll of Native Americans to see if they were offended by the name "Washington Redskins." Surprisingly, 90 percent of respondents answered that they were not offended, undercutting an NFL effort to force the Redskins to change its name. The poll showed that ordinary people sometimes disagree with corporate elites. 

As government officials decide whether to tear down Confederate monuments, they should recognize that the noise of the crowd may not reflect the thinking of most African-Americans. They should also recognize that the descendants of black Civil War veterans may wish that no Confederate monuments be removed. 

About 200,000 African-Americans fought during the Civil War. They fought on the front lines and in various support units. 40,000 died, with thousands more injured. Twenty-five won the Congressional Medal of Honor. They mattered. 

In an indirect and unplanned way, Confederate monuments honoring Southern bravery honor African-American bravery, too. Any person staring at a monument of Robert E. Lee has to think that, as great as he was, Lee was still beaten and that African-Americans played a large role in his defeat. 

History is complicated.

Mark Shea


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