From the Editor's Playbook

Lest We Forget


Compassion is all I ask. And compassion I won’t get. Because instead of sitting there and wondering how the other side feels, we parrot talking points that match our political views.

“It’s about history, OUR history!” “It MUST be taken down!”

I’ve been told rule number one in reading or writing articles is to not read the comment section. I tend to break rule number one. I broke that rule again when we shared the story about citizens meeting with Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir and Councilman Dist. 4 Dan Blakemore.

“Leave it alone!”

“Not while I’m alive!”

“People need to get educated…”

About this education, here’s my advice to everyone (yes, everyone). Read. I promise it’ll clear things up some more. Just read.

Here’s the SparkNotes version of that story everyone is commenting on Facebook about, yet are throwing around false facts.

Two citizens went into town hall and spoke with officials about the memorial. One of them, Thomas Enriquez, believes the city should erect a statue of Abraham Lincoln, since Lincoln had fought to abolish slavery and given his life for the cause.

“It’s just something we can look up at and feel pride, just like those people who look up at that Confederate statue have,” he said.

I’m a fan of Edwards Association President David Tucy’s idea.

“If that Confederate statue remains, then why don't we erect a statue of a slave right there beside it." Tucy asked. "I know this sounds weird – I know it does – but one of the most horrific statues that you can imagine – the slave with deep whip lashes across his back, bending over picking cotton, or doing whatever he had to do – right beside it, with the inscription 'Lest We Forget'."

“Lest We Forget.”

I’ve been stuck on that phrase because many on the side of “don’t take down ‘our’ statue” have used it as a defense to keeping the memorial up. Lest we forget what? The causes and effects of the Civil War? Or are we trying to not forget about the atrocities of slavery? I don’t think I’ve ever walked to a statue, read the inscription and think “oh man, I’m glad I learned this today.” That’s what public education is for. If we really have a problem with the way we’re learning our history, perhaps we should look at the schools and the way we teach American history, rather than monuments and their inscriptions.

“Lest We Forget.”

There is no statue in Germany of Adolf Hitler or any Nazi soldier with the inscription “Auf dass wir niemals vergessen warden” which roughly translates to “Let us never forget” in German. I know this. I’ve been there. I’ve talked to people who have lived or still live in Germany. Before this column I even had a conversation with a German friend of mine just to be sure. So the notion that there’s a generation “of young Germans coming up thinking that that never happened” is a ridiculous one that Blakemore raised during that meeting. Even if that were true (and again, it’s not), do we think the solution to that is a statue? That all it takes for a Holocaust denier is a memorial of a Nazi soldier and that inscription “Lest We Forget” and magically he’ll be convinced.

Same logic should apply here.

To be clear, I am not advocating for taking down the statue. I think it’s too much of a hassle —financially, physically and emotionally — to consider it. But why not erect a statue in honor of the side that won, the side that advocated against slavery.

This all boils down to education. I know how much this town loves the phrase “Come and Take It,” but it’s a false equivalency to compare Come and Take It to the memorial at Confederate Square. And when we talk about “states’ rights” as the reason behind Civil War, how about answering this question: the states’ rights to what? If your answer isn’t “to own slaves,” then perhaps the education system needs to be reworked.

I understand Mayor Kacir has a tough task at hand. I agree that taking down the memorial — which, again, was not suggested — will not change the way people think. But I’m not worried about our current generation. I’m more worried about the next generation. When they see that statue, I don’t want them to glamorize that part of history. Of course, that goes back to the “maybe the education system needs to be reworked” idea, but if erecting another memorial with a slave or with Lincoln can push us toward a more unified community, then I’m all for it.