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Confederate monuments to be removed

From the inbox:

Today, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the City of Houston plans to relocate the Dowling and Spirit of Confederacy statues, which are currently both located in two City of Houston parks.

The statues will be removed by Friday, June 19, in commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday, which memorializes the day slaves in Texas learned the Emancipation Proclamation granted their freedom.

In August 2017, Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed a task force of historians, community leaders, and department directors to review the City’s inventory of items related to the confederacy and recommend appropriate action.

The task force recommended that the statues be removed from Houston public property and not be destroyed. (Click the links for the final report and final appendix).

After the task force submitted its findings, the City began working on a plan with partner organizations and funders to identify new locations to place the statues permanently.

The two relevant statues in local public parks will be relocated, at no public expense, to separate sites that provide greater historical context for public viewing.

The Houston Endowment has provided a grant to transfer the Spirit of The Confederacy in Sam Houston Park downtown to be displayed at the Houston Museum of African American Culture in the Museum District.

A statue of Richard W. “Dick” Dowling in Hermann Park is expected to be moved to a permanent display at the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site in Port Arthur, TX. The Executive Committee of the Texas Historical Commission voted to accept the statute and the full Commission will consider the item at its quarterly meeting on June 17.

“While we have been working on a plan for some time, I have decided to move forward now considering the events of the past several weeks, Mayor Turner said. “Our plan for relocating confederate statues from public parks to locations more relevant to modern times preserves history and provides an opportunity for our city to heal.”

“Houston Endowment is proud to support the relocation of the Spirit of the Confederacy to the Houston Museum of African American Culture, where it can be interpreted in a way that promotes an inclusive and anti-racist community, said Ann Stern, President and CEO.

“This is a huge step forward in the Museum’s history of hosting difficult conversations, underscoring our multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future. We have an opportunity to learn from our history, the good and the bad, to truly forge one nation,” said John Guess, HMACC CEO Emeritus.

The City of Houston’s General Services Department (GSD) will begin relocating the statues next week. The City will place them in temporary storage until the partner organizations are ready to receive the delivery.

“I’m grateful for the City of Houston Confederate Items Task Force’s guidance and the generosity of the Houston Endowment for their crucial roles in the plan,” Turner added. “And I’m proud of how this plan formed with input from many sectors of the city and deep consideration of all sensitive factors involved.”

See here for the background. Note that it took almost three years to get to this point, which is why having a firm (and short) deadline for the criminal justice task force is important. I personally would have been happy to see these things thrown in the trash, but at least they’ll be put someplace where there will be some context for them. It’s better than leaving them in place.

On a related note:

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn expressed resistance to the idea of changing the name of Fort Hood, a massive Texas military base named after a Confederate military leader, as calls mount nationwide to remove monuments and rename bases memorializing Confederate leaders.

“There’s no question that America was an imperfect union when we were founded, we obviously betrayed our ideals by treating African Americans as less than fully human,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “And we’ve been paying for that original sin ever since then, through the Civil War, through the civil rights struggles in the ’60s.

“And I believe that we’ve made tremendous progress, but I don’t think we obviously are where we need to be.

“One of those most important things about our history is that we learn from it,” he added. “You can’t learn from our history if you try to erase it, because it’s hard to see where this leads. Now I could see efforts at the state and local levels to move, let’s say, move a monument to a state capitol to a history museum or the like, but I’m just not sure where, where this leads. And to me, one of the most import things about history is what we learn from it and how how we learn to not repeat our mistakes.”

Cornyn, however, refused to directly address Fort Hood in this context.

“I am for looking forward, not looking backward,” he said when pressed.

Cornyn similarly addressed the issue of whether to take down Confederate statues. The comments come as the nation is taking a fresh look at Confederate historical markers in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, an El Paso Democrat, swiftly responded to the comments.

“Erecting a statue that glorifies a confederate leader is not the same as documenting that period in history books,” she wrote on Twitter. “Cornyn knows that. He simply can’t muster up the courage to do the right thing — even when it’s this easy.”

I dunno, I feel like we’ve managed to learn about history without erecting statues of or naming military bases after Benedict Arnold or Robert Hanssen. You can mark me as being on Rep. Escobar’s side. And also on the side of renaming this fort after a true hero, Roy Benavidez.

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18 Comments

  1. Flypusher says:

    “You can’t learn from our history if you try to erase it, because it’s hard to see where this leads.”

    The Germans don’t keep up any statues of Hitler and his crew of monsters, yet they have no difficulty remembering history. We should follow their example- treat the memory of the CSA the same way the Germans regard the Third Reich. It’s not a part of our history to be proud of.

    Cornyn is such a coward.

  2. brad says:

    Cornyn is a big ‘small domestic cat’.

    “I am for looking forward, not looking backward,” says Cornyn. This sounds like a well-known or popular figure that did/said something obviously/blatantly wrong and now wants to just “move past this” or “get this behind me”.

    Speaking of history, Cornyn is on the wrong side of it.

    Oddly, the Spirit of the Confederacy and Dowling statues are probably two of the most aesthetically pleasing statues in our city after the Sam Houston statue at Hermann Park. They are quite beautiful.

    Very glad they are being removed from outdoor public park space display and will be relocated to a place that provides historical context.

    But with that said, if a mob of 75 year-old Antifa protestors tore them down with their walking canes or walkers I would not be disappointed.

  3. C.L. says:

    This makes zero sense to me: The Houston Endowment has provided a grant to transfer the Spirit of The Confederacy in Sam Houston Park downtown to be displayed at the Houston Museum of African American Culture in the Museum District.

    Talk about rubbing it in your face.

    Here’s my suggestion – move any/all Confederate statues over to a location in the Third Ward so these gentleman can be properly honored by the residents in/of the area. That way the locals can revel in the statues of the folks and ideology who freed them of their Africa freedom, kept them enslaved, or actually fought to keep them enslaved.

    Eventually the citizens won’t have to pay for any future upkeep.

  4. General Grant says:

    I think you could actually get Trump on board with renaming at least a couple of the military bases. Just inform him that Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood were truly terrible generals, true “losers”. You gotta speak his language.

  5. Doug says:

    Why the hate for Dick Dowling? What would you have done in his position? Feel free to trash “Spirit of Confederacy” and rename Hood and Bragg and drop all the Lee and Davis namings that still plague streets and schools. But Dowling just protected his city from invasion.

    If we judged all historical figures by modern sensibilities, and canceled those who did meet our standards, we’d have few historical figures left.

  6. brad says:

    Doug,

    There is no hate for Dick Dowling.

    Its just that there is intolerance for publicly displayed symbols of the Confederacy, which represent a racist part of America’s past, and has been and currently is, associated with the promotion of racism.

    Dick Dowling as a historical figure doesn’t go away. Just his statue.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

    ~George Orwell

    You folks are gleefully celebrating obliterating the past, just as the Taliban gleefully blew up Buddha statues.

  8. C.L. says:

    Crazy, isn’t it ?

    Kinda like tearing up the Constitution, befriending the dictators of Russia or South Korea, or staffing your Cabinet with sycophants and family members. Koo Koo !

  9. Flypusher says:

    Enough with the false analogies. The statues are being moved, not destroyed. That argument fails because you (and everyone else who makes it) ignore the crucial distinction between remembering something, and celebrating something.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    For the record: South Korea and Russia both have democratic elections, unlike China, who is busy interfering in our elections by backing Feinstein, McConnell, Biden, and many other US politicians. The CCP is the real foe here. Not South Korea or Russia.

    As to the cabinet staffing, I’ll partially agree with that. Jared and Ivanka are both bad news. I wish Trump would just tell them thanks, he’s got it from here, and sends them home. They are a bad influence for Trump, and have done nothing but steer Trump wrong. Pretty sure Jared didn’t actually make peace in the Middle East, so he failed at his task. Get rid of them, and Chris Wray, make General Flynn the FBI director so he can go after the people who tried to take him down, and get Grenell back in the game somewhere. Grenell is a rock star.

    Replace Jared and Ivanka with Don Jr., and light a fire under Barr….either Obamagate arrests start happening pretty quick, or Barr can go back to playing bagpipes full time.

  11. Brad says:

    OK Reb.

  12. C.L. says:

    Bill, I think you just caused me to squirt soda out of my nose. Russia and South Korea hold democratic elections ? That’s some funny shit !

  13. Mainstream says:

    C.L–I am confused by the suggestion that South Korea’s elections do not meet norms and standards for democracy or that their President Moo Jae-in is a dictator. Surely you meant to say North Korea?

  14. Jules says:

    I don’t get the references to South Korea either, Mainstream. Both the US and South Korea are listed as flawed democracies on the democracy index, but South Korea is ranked higher than the US.

  15. C.L. says:

    You’re right – I read South Korea but thought North Korea. It was Bill commentating, after all…

  16. Manny says:

    China does have elections, the president or leader is then elected in a manner similar to what we do here in the United States.

    The president is not elected by the voters rather than by the electoral votes which are not elected directly, nor do they represent the majority of people in the United States. A legacy left over from the time when slave were not considered a full person.

    Trump would not be sitting in the White House if we had a presidential election by the voters.

  17. Manny says:

    Forgot to include link;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_China

    Elections in China are based on a hierarchical electoral system, whereby local People’s Congresses are directly elected, and all higher levels of People’s Congresses up to the National People’s Congress (NPC), the national legislature, are indirectly elected by the People’s Congress of the level immediately below.

  18. brad says:

    So the US Senatorial elections were formerly like China before the 17th amendment…interesting.