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Monument decision maintains ‘status quo’

To the Editor:

I read the “United We Stand” letter in the May 13th issue of the Gates County index and reflected upon the question posed by the author: “Do the residents of Gates County hold a blueprint that others across our nation need to follow? Absolutely not!

I grew up in Gates County and graduated from Gates County High School in 1970. In high school history classes we were asked, “What was the benefit of slavery to the slave, and what was the benefit of slavery to the master?” And sad to say, there were theoretical, textbook benefits to the enslaved.

Next we were spoon fed ignorance about the Civil War having been fought over states’ rights. The more informed students knew it wasn’t true and vigorous debates ensued. Now, fifty-one years later some residents seem as clueless as ever about enslavement, the traitorous confederacy, and confederate memorials.

Nothing is as repulsive and inappropriate as confederate statues placed on public lands and nothing as unsavory and staining as the presence of a confederate statue on courthouse grounds. Those symbols promote shamelessness, an arrogance, and lack of commitment to equal justice and white supremacy that southern culture is especially known for.

The true “architects” with a “blue print” for the nation to follow concerning confederate statues are the governor of Virginia who has ordered the removal of the grotesque statue of Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia; the mayor of Richmond who removed four other confederate statues from Monument Avenue, the city council of Charlottesville, VA that voted to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in 2017; in North Carolina “Silent Sam” was tumbled at UNC as well as confederate statues in Durham and Raleigh, NC.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center seventy one such monuments were removed in Virginia in 2020 and twenty four were removed in North Carolina.

The recommendations of the Gates County committee assigned to look into the statue issue amounted to doing nothing, just maintaining the status quo. The county is being a laggard in dealing straight-forwardly with “Lost Cause” statues; those statues represent people who were both traitors and losers, though I applaud the loss. They made southerners losers, too.

Where the committee’s recommendations are concerned as a template or “blue print” for the nation, I must quote the historian Issac S. Harrell in his 1916 book Gates County to 1860: “There have been no great men or great movements in Gates that have stirred state and nation.” The so called “blueprint” developed by this committee falls within that description.

George Norfleet

Hampton, VA