Arlington Antebellum Home, Birmingham AL
My name is Mike Vanderboegh. I live on Womack Road in Pinson. I am the great-great grandson of veterans who fought for the Union in the Civil War. For myself, I have been a life-long opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and the neoNazis, fighting them at street level, where it costs. My life, and those of my family, were threatened by members of the Aryan Republican Army. I am also an amateur historian who has done original work on Alabama Unionists as well as the 55th and 59th United States Colored Troops who fought valiantly at the battle of Brice's Crossroads in Mississippi. In short, I am no neo-Confederate.
My question to you is this:
Given the Park Board's proposed cultural cleansing by removing the Confederate monument in Linn Park, can someone tell me the functional difference between them and the collectivist cultural assassins of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria? And if you ratify this decision, how are YOU any different? I wonder, will you and they carry this campaign of cultural cleansing to its logical conclusion and ask all the white folks to leave town so that y'all can "feel more comfortable?"?
History, in all its twists and turns, MUST be preserved, not sanitized according to the hysteria of the moment and that's what this is -- racist, collectivist hysteria. In their own way, the proponents are as bad as the Klan -- by such actions they validate the Klan's twisted hatred -- and they make the Klan's job of recruiting the gullible far easier than it otherwise would be.
If you want to do something, why don't you commemorate the veterans of the 55th and 59th United States Colored Troops, some of whom are buried here? Put up a statue to THEM in Linn Park. For that matter, why don't you remember the black Confederates who fought for the South? Try building UP the public memory of history -- warts and all -- rather than trying to culturally cleanse it in some collectivist, Orwellian hysteria.
If the City Council supports this decision of the Park Board, you are no better than the Taliban or any other gang of collectivist criminals-against-history who would destroy what makes them unhappy.
There is NO right codified in the Constitution that mandates your protection against being offended, by history (which is beyond changing) or anything else for that matter. You cannot change history, you must deal with it -- in all its successes and failures -- as Americans who have never been bound by its dead hand. Not as spiteful, Taliban terrorists with sledge hammers.
In conclusion, it is fair to ask, WHAT'S NEXT? Does Mr. Matthews propose tearing down Arlington? Shall we cleanse the cemeteries of ex-Confederates? Shall we knock down Tannehill, Brierfield and Irondale Furnaces until not one block stands upon another? Where does it end? You have the power to make it end -- OR -- to commit an irreversible crime against history. Choose wisely. But if you take down the monument, rest assured, the Klan, today, will be smiling.
Tannehill Furnace, Jefferson County, Alabama.