Last year Business Insider ran an entertaining piece titled “6 People Who Were Literally Erased from History.” The article serves as a grim reminder that in nations run by tyrants, individuals who fall out of favor with the regime in power are often made to disappear — literally — and their names and images are airbrushed out of the historical record.
That article came to mind today when I read another, this one appearing at the website of CBS Atlanta, that details the latest effort to purge American history of people long dead but whose memory is too grotesque to countenance. The lede paragraph tells you all you need to know:
The Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP is calling for the removal of the Confederacy from Stone Mountain Park.
Local chapter president Richard Rose says, “It is time for Georgia and other Southern states to end the glorification of slavery and white supremacy, paid for and maintained, with the taxes of all its citizens.” According to Rose, “all of this recognition of Confederate generals is upholding the white supremacy on which the Confederacy was founded and the war was fought.” He goes on to say, “all of this should have ended in 1865 when Lee surrendered to Appomattox.” He’s referring to, what historians refer to as, one of the last battles before Confederate Army General Robert Lee surrendered to Union Army Lt. Ulysses Grant on April 9, 1865.
At issue is a bas relief sculpture that depicts Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved into the face of the rock.
The carving, which is monumental in more than one way, is bigger than a football field. According to the official Stone Mountain Historical Association website:
The figures were completed with the detail of a fine painting. Eyebrows, fingers, buckles and even strands of hair were fine-carved with a small thermo-jet torch.
Destroying it, which Rose suggests could be done by sand-blasting, is not just erasing history but erasing an artwork that rivals Mt. Rushmore, which — please note — contains likenesses of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, both slave owners. In other words, where does it all end?
You can hear more of Rose’s complaint in an interview he gave to CBS affiliate WSBTV:
- Memphis city council votes to dig up remains of Confederate Civil War general, wife
- Next symbol to be cleansed of its shameful Confederate connections: U.S. Constitution
- House votes to ban Confederate flags at historic federal cemeteries in south
- Poll: Majority sees Confederate flag as Southern pride symbol, not racist
- Black civil rights icon: Problem is blacks killing other blacks, not Confederate flag
- War on the Confederate flag comes back to bite a Democratic presidential contender
- Time to rename U.S. military bases named after Confederate generals?