19 November 2008

Thanks, But No Thanks

I believe the SCV made the right decision regarding the Davis statue and Tredegar. The statue is a $100,000 piece sculpted by a renowned artist and is worthy of proper, respectful display. The rub seems to be what the two parties define as "proper."

While I agree that an interpretative plaque is appropriate, I believe there was reasonable concern that the American Civil War Center would display the piece in a denigrating "circus" setting rather than use it as a teaching tool for serious discussion about the full scope of slave relations in the South - from the cruelest imaginable to the one represented by the Davis family and Jim Limber. There was no reason for the statue to be purposely misinterpreted as representative of the institution of slavey as a whole, (that notion is utterly ridiculous) nor should the statue be used to make the false claim that most Southerners want to cover up or dismiss the evils of slavery. That too is utterly ridiculous. I think John Coski's piece, which appeared in the Museum of the Confederacy's magazine's winter quarter issue, does one of the best jobs of explaining the Limber/Davis story and relationship.

If the statue had been placed at Tredegar and if the proposed interpretative plaque should have include a detailed explanation of Davis's views on race, as some have suggested, then why isn't there an interpretative plaque for the Lincoln statue detailing his views on race? Why isn't there a call for one? Would it have anything at all to do with political correctness? Would it have anything to do with an agenda? Or is it simply due to an unconscious and culturally ingrained set of assumptions (many false) about Lincoln, the Civil War, and the South? Just posing the questions.

And, unlike much of academia, we welcome input from all perspectives here. Just be civil and no potty-mouths allowed.


Gil said...

After the election, there were many cartoons showing Lincoln celebrating Obama's win. In truth, Lincoln would have been appalled at the idea of a black man as President.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

True. Of course, I doubt that any 19th century white American would have approved of an African-American president.

Lincoln and Davis, like all 19th century Americans, were simply products of their times.

BorderRuffian said...

Mission Statement of the American Civil War Center (Tredegar):

"...to tell the whole story of the conflict that still shapes our nation....legacies of the Civil War from Union, Confederate, and African American perspectives. The museum store reflects the three viewpoints by providing books, music, clothing, toys and objects that represent all perspectives of the conflict..."

All you have to do to know this is not true is look at what is offered in their book store.