Two Views: Why your Confederate grandfathers would not be pleased

Grandfathers — for the benefit of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren born too late to experience it — sometimes erect statues, memorials, plaques, and monuments to illustrate their time in history. There were such remembrances erected by prior grandfathers and other Americans as artifacts and representations of the Confederacy.

The grandfathers and others who erected them in the South can be safely assumed to have been adherents of the Democratic Party because, until recent years, Republicans were publicly abhorred in the South as sponsors of the ignominious Reconstruction period that tortured a suffering South.

VIEWPOINTS: Relocating Confederate statues to UT museum was right move.

I am 84 and a grandfather, great grandfather, and — possibly before I die — will become a great, great grandfather. I am entitled to those distinctions not because my descendants will be proud of everything I have done or the causes I have espoused, but because I am their personal history and, — though they could wish it otherwise — I am a history they cannot ignore without losing knowledge of the things I might have done wrong or right. The past is indelible.

The Civil War ended 68 years before I came along, though there were still people living who had served the Confederacy. Some statues and memorials they and other people erected honoring Confederate memories and heroes are still standing, which incenses some people ignorant of the real stakes in that war.

In the view of many Southern people at the time, secession was the only avenue available to uphold the written Constitution and preserve its 10th Amendment. Allowing a federal override — a coerced change of state law —would violate the 10th Amendment. The then-current legality of slavery was reluctantly endured by many Southerners as unhappily necessary to uphold the Constitution and its Amendment until the law could be voluntarily changed by state elections. The South considered it to be defending the written Constitution and the states’ power its Tenth Amendment reserved to them; the North was abusing and undercutting it and, in the end, used violence to do so successfully.

COMMENTARY: Robert Lee. Cesar Chavez. UT art compromise keeps it weird.

It is unfortunate and distressing that, in ignorance of the real Constitutional stakes at issue, some great grandchildren of Democrats surviving that war have been so improperly brainwashed emotionally as to become incensed by their Confederate grandfathers’ wish to preserve their family history of Constitutional integrity. They want Confederate statues and memories destroyed or hidden for hateful reasons.

If they successfully set such an example for other disgruntled agitators, they and their descendants will later suffer undeserved historical disdain and destruction. Unless the descendants of Confederacy-era participants are ready to enthusiastically repudiate and destroy the memorabilia of all Americans who fought or served during the Vietnam War, they are hypocritical if they participate in repudiating and wishing to destroy the memorabilia of Confederate or Union grandfathers.

Because the My Lai Massacre happened during the Vietnam War, people born during the next 84 years whose grandfathers may have served then may be incensed that a monument exists — a wall containing 58,000 names, the Three Servicemen statue, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial — for Americans killed in the Vietnam War. If so, it will be because they make unwarranted assumptions that all Americans and soldiers who fought then agreed with what happened there or the reason for it. The same unwarranted assumptions motivate the people, including public officials, who wish to eradicate the public history of the Confederacy.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Viewpoints page brings the latest commentaries to your feed.

Vietnam War veterans, the ones who lived, are now of grandfather and great grandfather age. Unless you are at peace with future desecration and destruction of all statues, memorials, plaques, and monuments of the Vietnam War era — and of any other American war that might have proven or may later prove controversial, such as the one during which the Atomic Bomb was dropped — do not desecrate, hide, or destroy the public reminders of the War Between the States and of the Confederacy.

Grandfathers, looking down on you, would not be pleased.

Youngblood is a former Texas assistant attorney general. He lives in Austin.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

John Young: Real meaning for that red ball cap
John Young: Real meaning for that red ball cap

Wherever he resides in the afterlife, George Carlin is having a bleeping good time. One of the comedian’s “seven words you can’t say on TV” is being said on TV over and over again – starts with “sh” and features “it” — and getting bleeped, or someone is attempting a weak euphemism. The thing...
Letters to the editor: Jan. 17, 2018

The lawsuit by Laredo Merchants Association on the single-use bag bans flies in the face of reality. The fundamental is the effect of the ban, not the canard of inconsistent regulation. Within two weeks of Austin’s bag ban, we no longer saw white plastic bags in every creek, on every fence. I have never seen a more effective government action...
Commentary: Are you a broke millennial? Consider a manufacturing job
Commentary: Are you a broke millennial? Consider a manufacturing job

Earn a college degree, move to a major city, and land a white-collar job in the knowledge economy – that’s the path many millennials have been taught to follow. But that route isn’t always viable. Five- and six-figure student loan debt, skyrocketing housing costs and wage stagnation for all but the top earners are making postgrad...
Commentary: How Austin is proving its dedication to clean energy
Commentary: How Austin is proving its dedication to clean energy

Last year provided more evidence that we are changing our planet in dangerous ways. In September, top U.S. scientists confirmed that some human activities — like burning coal, oil and gas — are responsible for the global warming we are experiencing. The U.S. was 2.6 degrees warmer than normal this year. Supercharged by the warming climate...
Herman: Sen. John Cornyn continues to tolerate President Trump
Herman: Sen. John Cornyn continues to tolerate President Trump

These should be good times for John Cornyn. He’s the senior U.S. senator from the greatest state ever created. He’s the GOP’s No. 2 man in that chamber. And after eight years toiling under the yoke of a Democratic president, Cornyn is one year into total D.C. domination by his party. And though there’s not unanimity on this...
More Stories