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Letter: Heritage, nostalgia no justification

The “Heritage not Hate” argument has soured. The monstrous events that transpired last weekend in Charlottesville have curdled that cozy rationalization once and for all. Even if you once felt the heritage argument had merit, surely the repugnant scene of Nazis and KKK members proudly waving their flags and torches last weekend must have erased any lingering doubts.

Monuments that glorify the Confederacy and its “peculiar institution” of slavery are hurtful to many in our community. Our own statue, “Fame,” on Innes Street is one such example. It’s long been part of the landscape, but we can’t give in to nostalgia. We can’t pretend the Confederate flag is a harmless symbol from a “Dukes of Hazard” episode. We can’t pretend Robert E. Lee was a patriot, despite his tactical prowess. Most of all, we can’t pretend the Confederate cause was a noble one.

Confederate symbols have lately been co-opted by people who don’t even bother with the heritage argument any more. Many don’t care about history and aren’t from the South. They embrace the hate side of the argument gleefully, and all non-whites, non-heterosexuals and non-Christians are fair game. These monuments are now touchstones for the White Nationalist cause, and their cause is profoundly repellent.

We are at a dangerous moment. The president is pouring gas on the fire by equating hate groups and counter protesters in his calculated “both sides” comments. This is like equating cancer and chemotherapy — a dangerous false equivalency. The old monuments are now useful props for this newly emboldened movement.

I get it: Fame is a beautiful statue. But it commemorates something ugly. It’s an affront to our friends and neighbors, and insisting they should not let it bother them is more than selfish nostalgia; it’s giving tacit approval to a vile and insurgent movement.

— Laurel Harry

Salisbury

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