Dear President Trump,
I wonder how it went in Baltimore this morning as your acolytes who just love history had to adjust to the new reality of their monuments to slavery and oppression having been removed with no fanfare in the middle of the night. In some ways it’s too bad officials removed the statues unannounced at night since I’m sure it would have been moving for many in the community to get to see them going away, but from a public safety and a political perspective it was almost certainly the best move. Baltimore has been through so much and couldn’t afford the risks involved with a protracted removal process. I was there visiting a couple of years ago when the National Guard was brought in to keep a lid on all the tension that erupted with Freddie Gray’s death and it was incredibly disturbing to see groups of armed military personnel at all of the intersections in the downtown area.
I’ve been grappling on and off all day with your comment about where the line is between ok and not ok statues and monuments and your assertion that if statues of Lee and Jackson are not acceptable then statues (or monuments) of Washington and Jefferson should not be acceptable either since they were slaveholders too. My initial thought was that you were making another false equivalency, but I’m really not so sure. They benefited financially from having slaves and made laws fully excluding women from having any power or control over their own destinies. So through the lens of history, they both come up very short, having failed to recognize the full humanity of anyone but white men. I realize it is completely unrealistic that we are going to rename everything named after them or tear down the Washington monument, but I think we need to stop bowing down to the these men and take the trouble to point out where they fell short even as we recognize they were products of their time and place.
I think I’ve said this before to you but the other thing we need to do is reword the Declaration of Independence so that it reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal…” It is not enough to say we should just know that “….all men are created equal….” really means all people, when we all know full well it doesn’t. It just doesn’t, and it’s wrong that we are still using that language.
May we be safe.
May we be happy.
May we be healthy.
May our lives unfold and intersect peacefully.