Alabama Passes Bill to Protect Confederate Monuments even at cost of Economy

TeleSur | – –

Some Southern cities are rethinking the appropriateness of keeping such emblems on public property. Not Alabama.

Alabama lawmakers on Friday approved a bill that prohibits the removal of Confederate monuments and other long-standing historical markers.

The bill, passed in both the House and Senate, prohibits “the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument” that have stood for more than 40 years on public property.

“It’s very important that we address this issue to protect the history that made us who we are today as a state and as a country,” the bill’s Republican sponsor Sen. Gerald Allen said. “The role that our state played in the formation of the history of this nation is very important.”

Opponents to the bill said it is disrespectful to African-Americans because it would preserve Confederate monuments and memorials related to slavery and which many people believe champion the racism of the past.

“You say we are protecting history. We are not protecting history. We are protecting monuments that represent oppression to a large part of the people in the state of Alabama,” Sen. Hank Sanders, an African-American Democrat from Selma, said.

The Confederacy was made up of states that attempted to preserve slavery in the South and secede from the United States in the Civil War of 1861 to 1865.

Over the past several years, memorials to the Confederacy have fallen out of favor in some Southern places.

In 2015, Alabama’s then-Gov. Robert Bentley ordered to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol after the shootings in a South Carolina church killed nine African-Americans.

Allen had offered a similar legislation since then, criticizing the “politically-correct movement.”

Officials in New Orleans recently have been removing several Confederate monuments, including one of Jefferson Davis, president of the pro-slavery Confederacy and P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate general.

The legislation states changes to names or memorials installed between 20 and 40 years ago would need permission from a new state committee.

It would also apply to schools named to memorialize people. Such schools can’t be renamed without approval from the committee, but can relocate or make renovations.

The legislature will be sent to the desk of Governor Kay Ivey to be signed into law.

Local entities that violated the law, as determined by the attorney general, would be subject to a $25,000 fine, according to the bill.

Several House Democrats said it could stifle ongoing construction on historical places throughout the state.

“In 10 days [if Ivey signs the bill,] any construction going on would have to stop,” Rep. Dexter Grimsely said. “History is haunted in less than 10 days in Alabama.”

Via TeleSur

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

News: “Alabama bill aims to save Confederate monuments”

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11 Responses

  1. They seem very proud of their past, and also seem to have no hope for a future.

    Funny how those things go together.

  2. Absolutely disgusting. The Black citizens of Alabama should make more noise about this and there should be a national boycott of Alabama. Feels like we keep acquiescing to racists.

  3. Jim Cataldo

    I salute the localities in the South that have chosen to join the 21st Century. Alabama has chosen to continue to cling to the 19th Century. That is their choice. I won’t be upset if they get shunned because of it.

  4. Have never understood why celebration of a rebellion and army from southern states should be permitted. Are these people Americans or are they not? Would Germany/Japan allow memorials to the people who set the world on fire and lost? Why are people allowed to put their rebellion above the country they tried to destroy?

  5. The entire question of Confederate monuments is more complicated than it may seem at first glance. Some are almost worshiped as idols of a never-forgotten past and a forlorn hope that “the South will rise again”. Others are simply tangible reminders of an important chapter in U.S. history.

    There is certainly no reason to fly the Confederate flag on public buildings or to otherwise give official standing to a lost and defeated dream.

    On the other hand, we need to be reminded in history books and by historical statues and markers of our shared past. The paramount desire of most Southerners to maintain the sin of slavery was accompanied by a very important political debate. Some argued that the Union was indivisible and others argued that a colony that freely entered the Union had the right to freely and unilaterally leave the Union. The outcome of the war settled that question forever. Unionists call it the “Civil War”, a rebellion or insurrection; the Rebels call it the “War Between the States” (a war against “foreign” intervention; European historians call it by its real name, the “War of Secession”.

    Confederate landmarks are not limited to diehard and racist groups.

    Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is a military installation of the United States Army and is the largest military installation in the world (by population) and has more than 50,000 active duty personnel. It was opened in 1918 by the U.S. federal government.

    Fort Bragg was named by the Federal government in memory of Confederate General Braxton Bragg, who near the end of the war was a military advisor to CSA President Jefferson Davis.

    The strange idea that a conqueror may honour an enemy is not limited to the U.S. The Battle of Québec (Canada) ended with the fall of New France to the British under the command of Gen. Wolfe, who died on the Plains of Abraham. He was followed in death less than 24 hours later by the French commander, Gen. Montcalm, who was also mortally wounded on the Plains.

    Today, near the Château Frontenac Hotel, on the edge of the Plains, stands Wolfe-Montcalm Monument, a simple obelisk erected in 1827, it is the second oldest war monument in Canada (after Lord Nelson’s Column in Montréal).

    The Latin inscription on the Wolfe-Montcalm obelisk translates as “Their courage gave them a common death, history a common fame, posterity a common memorial”.

    I would argue that the mere existence of monuments to the defeated is not the question, but rather the appropriateness of such monuments, on a case by case basis.

    The Commander of the Confederate Army, Gen. Robert E. Lee, understood in the end that the dream was over, forever. He said “We have fought this fight as long, and as well as we know how. We have been defeated. For us as a Christian people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must accept the situation.” He also said, “We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing.”

    One of the statues recently removed was a statue of Robert E. Lee. Perhaps that was one of those that deserved to be kept in a very public place.

  6. Rick Geissal

    Always important to spend public time in the legislature compounding errors of the past with reverence for failure.

    • “On the other hand, we need to be reminded in history books and by historical statues and markers of our shared past. ”

      Yes, we do. And I’ll accept the Confederate monuments just as soon as there are some others erected which memorialize the slave markets, lynchings, and the injustices of the Jim Crow era. Perhaps any such monuments could include excerpts from the documents of secession which stressed the importance of slavery and the superiority of the white man.

      • There quite a few State erected historical markers throughout the South that refer to slavery.

        Although museums are not very common, there are some, including:
        Old Slave Mart, Charleston SC;
        The Whitney Plantation (near New Orleans LA), which is now a major slavery museum;

        Many other museums have slavery exhibits, including;
        The National Civil Rights Museum, which opened in Memphis in 1991 and was built around the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

        However, there was NO federally funded museum or monument dedicated to slavery in the U.S. until 2016, when the National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened in Washington as part of the Smithsonian Institution, a project supported by $250 million in federal funding; exhibits on slavery stand alongside others commemorating the African-American experience.

        As for the Jim Crow era, the former Woolworth’s store in Greensboro NC now houses a museum dedicated to the beginnings of the civil rights movements that began there in 1960.

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