tv Washington Journal James Grossman Discusses the Battle over Confederate... CSPAN August 20, 2017 12:52pm-1:22pm EDT
i became a republican. by a conversation with jeff moss. >> there was no jobs in information security for any of us. so this was really a hobby. as an internet group, and there were jobs and people or paintings online and there's money at risk, all of the sudden, hackers started getting jobs doing security. >> watch on c-span and c-span.org a listen using the c-span radio app. >> joining us now is james grossman, the executive director american historical association. he is here to discuss the debate over removing confederate monuments. e over removing confederate monuments. thank you for joining us today.
we have had an ongoing debate coming down and being torn down. give us the history about these monuments. go up andost of them why? >> most of them between 1900 and 1920. it was not so much monuments as .enaming schools they made a political statement to put in prominent public thats, large monuments were basically a part of the and itshment of jim crow was part of the way of saying, this is a whitespace. white supremacy is legitimate.
we know a for the second because of the timing. why do you rename presbyterian cemetery and stonewall jackson cemetery 1949? what does that have to do with the timing of civil war? what a can -- coincidence that the renaming in 1954, they are schools after brown versus board of education. the creation of the memorials, the creation after political officials, political act. host: was there a debate?
guest: there was no discussion. it is quite striking. i was surprised. there was no debate. in that early time, a lot of them were paid for by the confederacy. by 1900, a lot of african public voices in the south were in part silenced. what happened was in black communities in the south, when these things were built, i don't know. it is an interesting question. in the next 50's in the next 50's and 1960's, there might have been more debate than we are aware of. was whitee idea here unity. that was a lot of what this was about. south saint toe all white people, this is the
way we were and this is the way we has the lights off host: the way we would be. the -- and this is the way we would be. host: republicans can call -- host: according to this map from politico, it shows most of these flags,rate symbols, competitor -- commemorative license plates, schools, a lot of these symbols to the confederacy, the vast majority take place and are found in the southern states of the country. they're also massachusetts, washington state, other places.
talk about these monuments. it implyople would say southerner means peaceful. but a national unity. we all agree on this. we can all agree that reconstruction was that. we can all agree there were heroes of the confederate -- confederacy that need to be honored. especially when talking in the 1950's in 1960's, this is a national struggle. -- across theon, nation, there can be white americans asserting this as an ideology. but it is quite striking. it is possible that the last thing to have been bill might have been in arizona in the early 21st century.
so these are all over. you said we can agree reconstruction is bad. some would not agree that their heroes to the confederacy. would he think about that? right.i think that is what i would love to see right next 48 hours or certainly the next week, i would love to see every member of congress and the president of the united states under a single sentence. the confederacy was a bad idea. bes should not controversial. i urge all listeners, all viewers, if you have a laptop for review, google something simple. declaration of secession. put in your favorite death confederate state.
put in two or three and then google alexander stevens cornerstone speech. see southern states modeled after the declaration of independence. they make it clear we are because we need to protect our right to own slaves. the vice president of the confederacy in 1861 made it very clear in that speech. chuck is calling in from winchester, virginia, on the republican line. situation withle confederates,and it have been 30, 40, 50 years ago, and nothing was done about it. nothing was mentioned about the statue's.
they are not killing people. it is just a symbol for the to demonstrate and get out and be seen on tv. if you want to demonstrate something, look at dolly after james madison died, she was selling slaves because she had no money. go down to -- you have to pay to and see this. there is a video downstairs where a black slave had written a letter how she was scared to death of eating sold by dolly madison so she could have money in her lifestyle. is there an equivalency between some of these confederate figures and non-confederate figures who owned slaves? there is not an
equivalency. there are issues i would describe as analogous or similar. i think they have done a much better job interpreting the issues related to slavery. i would like to see it better. what the caller describes is actually something extremely important. issue of what happens when a slave holder dies. this is part of the myth of the old south. that the slaves loved their masters. when the masters died, slaves often cried people say, see how much they love their masters? slaves cried because they knew what would happen next. just as when someone dies now, you often have to sell the house for the family to divide the estate.
at that time, you had to sell the slave to settle the estate and families would get broken up. but there is no equivalence whatsoever. george washington, thomas jefferson, madison, these are founding fathers, all white men, who built a country. that building was in many ways extremely flawed as far as who could become a citizen. people areale created equal. the constitution is not a perfect document. we can get into a variety of reasons as to why. but these men accomplish something. they built a country and created a democratic experiment. they were fought and the experiments were flawed.
when we honor madison, wehington, and jefferson, honor them for their competence and the best way is to also make clear the flaws. make clear in statues and memorials the issues that relate to their lives as sleepovers. robert ely lee, stonewall jackson, etc., they made an accomplishment creating and defending the confederate states of the united states. the confederate states of america existed for a single purpose. protect the right to own slaves. there is no accomplishment to point to and say this should be honored and it is something we of our put at the center community and honor these two before accomplishing the that is the difference. host: you are on the line with
james grossman. caller: i appreciate james coming on here to speak the truth about that. a lot of people get this misconstrued and think differently because that is what they see on the news. ist you are pointing out very important. if people will base this on, this is part of our history, blah, blah, blah, there is a lot more to the history like you said. madison, washington, jefferson were not necessarily great guys but they made this country a great place. general lee and other guys wanted people to be slaves. would point out a lot of white men regardless of the age now, our country was founded on two major crimes. of native americans and slavery of african-americans. i will leave it at that. these are important points.
there parts of our history. we do well in terms of thinking about moving forward in terms of policy to analysis parts of our histories. is when it comes down to how we think about these ,hings is to ask ourselves historical interpretation, fact, and policy. acknowledging historical fact is straightforward. such is the confederacy was a bad idea. that, whetherth you say this is the cause of the civil war or this is with the constitution said originally, those are matters of historical interpretation and we should argue about those in our public spaces, parks, and museums. the next step is what are the policy implications? we should argue about that.
toys in which a democracy works. facebook, twot on days ago, a very nice piece saying what the facts were regarding the monuments when they were built in their relationship to white supremacy. he was concerned about the slippery slope and i think he felt a lot of historians and especially a lot of liberals were committed to the slippery slope. we also need to get rid of these other people. i think it is great for him to hear myself or other historians say we agree on this distinction and we agree with him on his test this distinction. host: a lot of callers are waiting but i want to ask a question asked a lot. andjust between confederate u.s. figures but among those, is there a difference between
robert e. lee and stonewall jackson or jefferson david? moresaid he was transformative and other was theate leaders and first u.s. general before going to the confederate side. other differences? guest: of course. there are always differences between people. i do not know if he was singular in this but lee after the war said don't build memorials. he did not want memorials to himself. i think he knew he had done something wrong. the difference between fact and interpretation. the fact said -- lee said don't build memorials and my interpretation is perhaps he knew he did something wrong. i do not know if there is a lee quote.
there might well be something different, but similarities, and you mentioned lee surname -- serving the united states army. as officers in the army the united rates of america, they to defend and be loyal to the united states of america. and they took arms against the united states of america. a very special crime. calling from jackson, mississippi, on our independent line. caller: i agree and disagree with some things you are saying. the war was over 152 years ago and it april this year. ok.
let's don't destroy the statues and museums. placeeed to be put in where they are not in plain view. guest: i agree. we agree completely. , there are statues statues i think are fairly straightforwardly should be removed. there are a lot of statues to argue about. i think any statues should be removed because these things should not be destroyed. they're part of our history. these are primary sources for the early 20th century for the civil rights era. to destroy them is to destroy .he record they should be put in museums. hungarians have done something interesting. they took the monuments from the
soviet era and hold them out to .he south part i agree with you completely. there are names of streets and schools and other things. one is in prince william's county virginia, the high school in stonewall jackson high school , and the chairman wants to change the name. another attempt to change history. is there a different discussion when we are doing with schools and streets and libraries? it is more difficult because you cannot move the streets into the museum.
there are also conflicts when streets are names -- named p renaming a street is claiming a civic space. i will go back to a notion of honoring. you name a street to honor someone. singulardy pauses important, schmidt in life is to create and defend the federal states of america, to protect the right of people to own other people, it should not be honored in a public space. i think when you look at stonewall jackson, it is clear. we have schools named after the found -- one of the founders of the ku klux klan. do not think renaming schools where we have children supposedly learning history every day, it is not a racing history. it is respecting it.
calling from george on our republican line. -- from georgia on our republican line. i find these monuments are a ridiculous smoke screened what is going on the united states now. i feel the left is pushing an to silence our freedom of speech and it is ridiculous. i am not sure where the freedom of speech is being silenced here because i would suggest what i'm calling for is more speech. generally, in a democracy, that is how we handle free speech issues. the response to hateful speech
often should be not shutting it down but more speech. the response to bat speech should be more speech. these should be conversations within communities. that is what democracy is all about. there should be a historian at the table. contextoom to provide that ought to be there when these discussions happen. these are deeply historical questions or the american historical association will be happy to provide anybody the names ofates with nearby historians who can perform a service and i am really -- willing to guess they're willing to do it free of charge. patrick is calling in from ohio, independent line. guest: good morning. caller: good morning. a few issues i have.
first, let's know we're a republic but besides that, the slippery slope issue comes up. with people that who have been propagandized and have not been educated, like attaching -- attacking george washington statues and defacing abraham lincoln statues in chicago already. we have to look at historical context. we need a discussion to be open. yourselfd people like to offer historical context and orit without partisanship political leaning. thank you. guest: i agree completely. i say when i offer the service
of professional historians, i hope when historians and subjugation is -- in such cases where they're able to put -- back away and help people think about history so communities can honor people who members of the community want to honor. are a republic but our systems of government, how political structures, our i would hopeture, it could be described as democratic were people have a voice in their communities. this is shutting down speech in any way and you are right that we should be stepping back from partisan -- partisanship here. i is will go back to what i'm asking members of congress and -- members of congress to do. sentence thatle the confederacy was a bad idea and then let's move on to a discussion of historical
interpretation and a discussion of policy implication. host: what is your reaction to the push to remove the congress?e statues in what is your reaction? bad idea. a i would love to see it discussed. i understand the current structure is that states get to decide who is represented in the capital. i am not an expert on this internationally. i am guessing there are few nations were somebody committed as a statue in the hall of the governing body of the nation unless it is somebody who on behalf ofason some very lofty ideal. look at what nancy pelosi said about this. the confederate statues in the hall of congress have always been reprehensible. if republicans are serious to
reject white supremacy, i call on democrats to remove it from the capital immediately. there is no room to celebrate the violent bigotry of the men of the confederacy in the hallowed halls or places of honor across the country. in from northg carolina. as far as i'm concerned, these confederate monuments should be removed. stonewall jackson, they were traitors who fought against the united states. what should've happened after thosevil war is all of should have been gathered up and and it probably would have stopped the creation of the ku
klux klan in all of these hate groups. they go around flying the confederate flag. , i got my behind kicked fighting to keep people in slavery. they are ignorant cowards and that is all i have to say. to seehat do you expect next? there are a flood of efforts to rename streets in the area, you highway, what lee do you think will happen next? questionat is a hard for nestorian. we generally have enough trouble figuring out what happens as opposed to what will happen next, but i can say what i hope will happen as an historian is that communities will get together to make these decisions
and within the context of historical knowledge expertise in education at the table. host: robert is calling in from new york. caller: hello. guest: good morning, robert. caller: this is a question i have for james. a national, there is cemetery, in which the governing of the united states says you must be a veteran to be very there. it was made a national cemetery because of the fact there is over 2000 confederate soldiers that are buried there that died pow camp during the
civil war, and there are two monuments in that cemetery. two of those are confederate soldiers, put there by the daughters of virginia, who came up and more ready to have the bodies taken back to the south. the thing was when they came up and had seen the way and escaped jones, which is part of american history, buried each and every one of those confederate soldiers with his bare hands and documented who afterwards, the stones were placed on these grades well after it -- these graves after-the-fact -- host: ok, i went to get james a chance to respond. robert hasink that
raised a more complicated question, which is ordinary soldiers. in some cases, there are documented cases of people paper in theduce a confederate army and to a not former members of the army of the united states, which puts them in a different category in terms of taking up arms against the united states. theink what we do with graves of ordinary confederate soldiers is probably a more complicated question. what i would like to do is whatate out what we know, are the straightforward fax about the establishment of the confederacy, and what are more complicated historical questions about white ordinary people. -- about why ordinary people fought and how we remember them. imperative is the way in which we remember them is not involve honoring the