Rewriting History. Brands must be true.

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

31 May 2017

Confederate Statue Removal

Confederate Statue Removal

The Confederate statue removal creates a modern US brand with no basis in truth. Modern racist (1950s) history hijacked the symbols of the short-lived confederacy. All for their own means. But, at the end of the day, it is about OUR history.

I’m from New Jersey

Presently I live in Greensboro NC. Part of the old confederacy of states. I have never celebrated the Lost Cause.

However, I do love history. What I see is a perversion of our national brand (what the US stands for). We strive for a re-write of history. Pretending the things that might offend us never happened.

In branding commercial business, we ALWAYS start from the truth. Anything else provides a foundation on moving sand. Those brands fail.

August 2017 update.

Brand is dynamic. It must adjust to market changes and reflect the beliefs of the marketplace. I have written broadly about my prejudice against removing civil was statues and memorials.

This reflects my obsession with history. And, my upset at how we teach history today. You will find blogs I have written about Washington and Lee University, civil war statues and even the usurpation of Armistice Day by Veterans Day. Today I am stating clearly that aside from memorials in Civil War Battlefields and at grave sites, I want to go on record as supporting the removal of these monuments and placing them in museums where context seeks to remove the usurping of these historical figures by white supremacists, Neo-Nazi groups and Klan members.

For me, Charlottesville has changed the fabric of my historical arguments. The meaning these monuments have for me, as a historian, changed. Move them. Put them in museums where they form part of an historical lesson and not the rallying point for disgraceful and violent groups.-— Tom

This is the official flag of the Confederacy

It was known as the Bonnie Blue Flag. It was NOT the Stars and Bars.

History is not a debateConfederate Statue removal Lee after the war

History just is. Robert E Lee WAS a revered General (by both the North and the South). Jefferson Davis WAS the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.

The people who built the statues honored these figures because they admired them.

That is just enough reason to keep them standing. Confederate statue removal does not erase the past. It simply stops us from learning anything from it.

Greensboro had a Lee Street

Confederate Statue removal Brand BlindessBut no more. Gone is Lee Street. A couple of years back it became Gate City Boulevard.

The grave for Robert E Lee (read more about this removal at Washington and Lee University) had Confederate battle flags around the sarcophagus. All removed a few years ago.

The Greensboro train station was remodeled a few years back. When I moved here (the home of the famed and revered Woolworth sit-in) the station had a Negro Entrance (their words).

The remodeling chiseled The Negro Entrance sign away. I wish it had remained.

Because, thinking and feeling people did not look at that entrance wishing for the good ole days. Nope, it was a thumb in the eye that begged the question of how we could have let this racism exist. It challenges our thinking. Now there is no challenge to ponder. We learn nothing.

“We need to stop re-writing history. History exists and we should look at it squarely in the face. Anything less is just a lie.”

New Orleans initiated Confederate Statue removal a couple of weeks back.

Is it not worth remembering from where we came? Are we pledged to erase history because we don’t like what it represented? Should Germany bulldoze Dachau?

The Allies tore down almost all the Nazi symbols of the day. Yet those most persecuted (the Jews) ask us never to forget. Rip down the holocaust camps and all we have left of this heinous chapter is pictures in a book.

History happens in the present

As such it is a written record. A record of the poor eyesight that the present always represents.

Confederate Statue Removal. Flags

Did you know that the flag on the left was the flag of the Confederacy? The right was a regimental battle flag

It is raw because it has no future context to correct it. Should we chisel Washington and Jefferson from Mount Rushmore? They were both slave holders. (I have written about the Confederate Flag before.)

Will we have history’s revisionists bulldoze the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial? Both represent the privilege of wealthy white Protestants of the day. If you were from the south AND you owned property then you also owned slaves.

Inconceivable by our standards today. Born today, neither Jefferson, Washington, Lee or Jefferson Davis would own slaves or wish that they did.

But, in defense of our own blindness for history, we continue a concerted movement of Confederate statue removal. God forbid history offend anyone.

Lee on Monument Drive, Richmond VA

A statue of Arthur Ashe is also there.

We are blind

Real historical heroes have flaws. They were not perfect. Thank God for that.

It allows us to aspire to greatness despite our own shortcomings. Seeing greatness in the scarred leather that IS history deepens our sense of amazement.

These were not gods. They were human beings. Flawed, conflicted and compromised. Just like us.

If we insist of washing away those inconsistencies and warts, we end up with an airbrushed beauty. A mannequin that seems out of reach and over aggrandized. They are not role models. They are specimens behind glass. Untouchable and unknowable.

The Civil War was about Slavery

Confederate statue removalIt was. But the war was also about the state’s rights vs federal mandates. In the beginning of the war, we welcomed the secessionists back into the fold, with slavery intact.

Until 1862 after the Battle of Antietam (The battle of Sharpsburg if you were Southern), Lincoln wanted a UNTIED States of America. He was willing to live with slavery. History changed him.

When Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation he changed the game. But did you know that only the slaves in rebel states were freed? That’s right. Maryland and West Virginia did not set slaves free. They were not in revolt.

Should we rip down the Lincoln Memorial because Lincoln wanted the SPREAD of slavery limited in expanded territories? He was OK with it in existing states. Should he only be perfect in modern eyes?

Whitewashing history

Confederate statue removal Research mistakesI worry about our disregard for truth. History is not as we would have it. Can we be sure we won’t repeat it if we refuse to accept it? Let’s keep history as it is.

The southern families that lost boys in the Civil War had the same grief as Northern families.

It was right, at the time, to erect memorials to them. It is wrong of us to continue Confederate Statue Removal.

If you are aware of history, know that Robert E Lee was a man of high principal. Revered by the South and envied by the North.

He did everything in his power after the war to get his fellow rebels to reintegrate in the changed Union. “God had decided against the South” he intoned.

Lee had no property after the war. He lost everything. No slaves. No home (The US seized his home and made it Arlington National Cemetery). And Lee had no gripes or indignation. He never complained.

I wish it were the same for those that want to rewrite our own history.


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