Letter to the Editor

Confederate Monument should go

The following was sent to the Cape Girardeau city clerk with a request that it be shared with our city's leaders, as well as submitted as a letter to the editor.

Honorable Mayor Fox, city council members, and city manager Meyer:

This letter is written in favor of the city's Historic Preservation Commission recommendation for immediate removal of the Confederate States of America monument presently located in Ivers Square.

Based on the commissioners' discussion, it was clear they do not see any value in re-setting the monument anywhere on public property. What is not clear is how the monument can be successfully situated anywhere that its placement will not be either misunderstood or exploited by those with malicious intent.

With respect for the long deceased and their descendants this perspective is offered: There are two basic problems with the monument: First, its symbolism. No matter the intentions of its members, the ultimate effect of the organization known as the Daughters of the Confederacy was to perpetuate a myth -- the myth of a society where white supremacy reigned and happy black slaves knew their proper place. It is a myth carried on through symbols of the old Confederacy's symbols which today have been hijacked by hate groups to strike fear into the hearts of many of our fellow citizens. Second, being over 14 feet tall and 12 tons, the monument's design is intended to command attention and therefore cause observers to assume it commands respect. There is no amount of contextualizing that can ever correct these deficiencies.

My greatest fear is that if the monument is left intact and stored or sold or donated then someday it will end up somewhere else and used to glorify a mythical society and once again instill fear in others. Our complicity in that potential outcome must not be allowed.

Those who fear the "canceling" of our history can rest assured that it lives today in books, as well as in monuments and other material reminders properly located at battlefields, cemeteries, museums, and other appropriate places commemorating those lost. These plentiful things are still very much part of our shared national heritage.

Now seems an appropriate time to act given the demands of Americans everywhere to be freed from the scar on our national fabric known as white supremacy.

Andy Leighton, candidate for state representative, House District 147, Cape Girardeau