For years, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis graced the campus of the University of Texas, providing students with a daily link to our country’s divided history. That changed this week as construction crews removed the statue from its pedestal.
“This is an iconic moment,” said UT Vice President Gregory Vincent. “It really shows the power of student leadership.”
Vincent is one of many weepy liberals celebrating the move, many of them laboring under the belief that something of worth has been accomplished. His boss, University president Gregory L. Fenves said last month that “while every historical figure leaves a mixed legacy, I believe Jefferson Davis is in a separate category, and that it is not in the university’s best interest to continue commemorating him on our Main Mall.”
Spurred on by the frantic anti-Confederacy sentiment that gripped the country following the Charleston church shooting, UT liberals wanted to take the Jefferson Davis statue months ago. They were thwarted, however, by a group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans. These activists sued the university to stop them from removing the statue. It was only after State District Judge Karin Crump ruled against the group that UT officials were able to move forward with the removal.
Jefferson Davis is expected to find a new home inside the Briscoe Center museum where, presumably, he will no longer be able to hold University of Texas students under his racist spell.
But let’s go back to what Mr. Fenves said. Every historical figure leaves a mixed legacy. Fenves would have done the university a great service if he’d pondered that clause thoughtfully rather than simply dismissing it as an unimportant aside. Because he’s absolutely right. No man, save perhaps one, has ever lived a perfect life. The Founding Fathers, certainly, were no exception. Nor was Abraham Lincoln. Nor were the slaves themselves. The question is: what do we do with that information?
For this country’s social warriors, the answer is clear. If you had anything to do with slavery or the Confederacy, you must not be honored in any way, shape, or form. But they started this long before the current flap over the flag. Who can forget when the tide started to turn against Christopher Columbus? Bring his name up these days and you’re just as likely to get into a fight over native genocide as anything else. And, fine, that’s a part of his legacy. But what does it serve us in 2015 to turn our heroes into villains? Is there not more to be learned from Columbus the Brave Explorer than from Columbus the Murderer?
A statue of Jefferson Davis does not stand in defense of slavery. It stands in commemoration of a fiercely independent South that wanted to be free from Washington D.C.’s encroaching tyranny. Can we not appreciate that legacy while simultaneously regretting the evils of slavery?
In unrelated news, Middle Eastern news agencies claim ISIS has destroyed – at least in part – the ancient Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria.
Perhaps ISIS leaders can expound upon the mixed legacy of the site at a later date.