As a regular commenter on articles and DRC letters to the editor, I am very familiar with the continuing controversy surrounding the Denton County Confederate Soldier Memorial that sits on the Courthouse on the Square grounds.
In the past, I publicly took the position that the statue should stand there for historical significance and education, and that taking it down “white-washes” history. On multiple occasions, I accused those who advocate removing the statue and putting it in a museum of being “rabble rousers.” I said they were being silly, oversensitive and simply looking to stir up controversy where none exists.
I targeted people by name as being the chief stirrers of controversy, including Denton civil rights activist Willie Hudspeth and City Council member Kevin Roden, both of whom advocated for removing the statue.
To say that my position against them was scathing is a gross understatement. However, I am writing this column to say publicly that my position of keeping the Confederate statue on the courthouse grounds was 100 percent wrong.
Like many others who supported keeping the statue in place, I subscribed to the “heritage not hate” school of thought. Those who think in this vein take the position that they are simply honoring the heritage of their Confederate forefathers, but are not themselves espousing hate or racism.
Groups such as the Daughters of the Confederacy, the ones who erected the statue, did it to honor those who died in service to the Confederacy. Many Confederate “heritage” groups state that the Civil War was more than just about slavery. They say it was about “states’ rights,” agrarian versus industrial society and the like.
However, once I really went back and took an honest look at Civil War history, there is no question that slavery was the overarching reason the South seceded.
My own family had plantations and, of course, they owned slaves. I have many ancestors who sided with the Confederacy and fought against the North, and the reason they went to war was wanting to protect slavery.
My ancestors were on the wrong side of not only history, but they were on the wrong side of morality. What they died in battle for was to protect the abhorrent practice of human beings owning other human beings.
The statue on the Denton Square is a monument glorifying those who died, not in service to the United States, but to a group of rebels who went so far as to use the Bible to justify treating blacks as property and not human beings. In short, it is not an honorable monument at all. It’s a monument glorifying racism.
Therefore, when one advocates keeping the statue on the courthouse lawn, one cannot credibly state they are not supporting a symbol of hate. The same goes for those who proudly drive around here with Confederate battle flags mounted on the beds of their trucks.
Again, I should know, because I used to think this way. Thankfully, I now understand that I was wrong. (Note: I never drove around with a Confederate battle flag on my vehicle.)
Speaking as a Jew, I thought of an analogy that provides a different context.
If a group of German descendants of Nazis got together with swastika flags, and stated they were simply “honoring their ancestors’ service to the Fatherland,” would I remotely even believe that? Of course the answer is “no.”
So why do we accept it when allowing equally offensive symbols of racism and hate to be proudly displayed on public property? Therefore, I understand better why folks like Mr. Hudspeth and council member Roden would like it removed.
Due to this realization, I now come from the opposing side to join them in stating that this Confederate statue needs to be relocated to a museum. I am also publicly apologizing to them for my attacks against them. I can only hope that they will grant forgiveness.
The whole heritage not hate group is prominent in politically conservative circles. I should know, because I am a conservative and have been my entire life.
I call on my fellow conservatives to wake up, stop lying to yourselves and everyone around you and realize that symbols of the Confederacy are in fact, symbols of racism. We owe it to people of color in this community, especially blacks, to remove those symbols from public property because we are better than this.
HUNTER BONNER is a technology consultant and a former Denton resident.