Can't be both
Regarding Trump's comments on Charlottesville: I did some serious processing over this situation and I have listened to differing points of view. I understand that there were many factors to consider and that there was culpability on both sides. And I am aware that these far-right extremists had a permit and the other group didn't. Nevertheless, if a number of white supremacists are going to march with Ku Klux Klan garb or wear Nazi swastikas, give Nazi salutes and yell racial slurs, of course there is going to be violence. It is also an emotional trigger for people seeing these images on the news. These powerful symbols open the wounds of our country's psyche: burning crosses and Klan brutality. The Nazi insignia is an insult to the soldiers who fought and died in World War II. These records are deeply embedded in our collective unconscious.
Not only should the president have condemned this protest immediately, he should have specifically addressed these issues. If he had boldly stated that the Klan robes are a stark reminder of our racist past, and if he had honored the valiant men and women who served in World War II, he would have commanded respect. President Trump's inflammatory rhetoric at this rally has fueled the fires of hatred and rage on both sides. This protest is about more than a statue being torn down, as these white nationalists, energized by a Trump presidency, are planning more rallies. It is time for the president to take a strong stand against these groups and begin to reach out to the people who do not support him and attempt to bridge the gap. Choices are being made. Are we going to devolve and erase the progress our country has made thus far, or are we going to evolve into a more humane, enlightened culture where we treat each other with understanding, compassion and mutual respect regardless of skin color?
The right thing
So, on Aug. 15, President Trump said this about the recent protests in Charlottesville: "This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"
Really. He asked that.
I can answer the question.
Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee led an armed insurrection against our country. They did so in defense of slavery. Period. These men do not deserve to have statues erected in their memory. What does it say to our children, our citizens of color, visitors to our country, when we revere the memory of people who were willing to use violence in order to protect the "right" of one person to own another?
The confederates may have been brave people, but they served a terrible cause. It's analogous to the Germans who served in the world wars. They may have been brave, but it would have been more courageous to stand against the cause their army was serving.
So, I can answer the president's attempt to invoke the "slippery slope" argument. People will stop protesting the display of Confederate symbols when they are removed from public spaces. That's where it stops: when we do the right thing.
Rep. Tom Woods
I believe the mayor and commissioners blew it ("Helena to remove country's northernmost confederate monument," Aug. 17). This subject came up a couple of years ago and the administration said it would make a new plaque for the fountain, putting it in a better historical context and denouncing slavery, racism, etc. The fountain could have been repurposed as a symbol of peace and tolerance. Well, that didn't happen, and in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, it is being removed, which I certainly understand. It could have been saved, though.
This is a sad moment. Any memorial should be viewed in the context that it is. A reminder of where we have been lest we forget. I visited Dachau concentration camp in Germany. I was appalled at the atrocities committed. There were people visiting from all over the world, including a lot of Jews. They weren't offended, they were there as a remembrance, as it should be. I know there are memorials all over that memorialize something in history that didn't have to happen. It's not about offending people, it's about history. People have gotten too easily offended rather than seeing it for what it is and moving forward. Open this door and it can lead to some pretty scary things, if offending someone can lead to this. Also, I'm wondering how many of those offended by things related to the Confederate war are wearing cotton T-shirts?
Yeah, but there isn't a giant statue glorifying Heinrich Himmler outside of the gates of Dachau constructed 50-plus years after the events unfolded there. It's like visiting Gettysburg. Yes, we can visit the location where the battle took place and remember the men who lost their lives. But we don't need to be building statues glorifying the people fighting to maintain the right to enslave a race of people for profit.
Take it all down
To think Americans think destroying monuments is OK, and will end racism, in my opinion is absolute mindlessness! If we are to remove Confederate monuments then we should remove all governmental monuments as well, seeing it was the government that wiped out the majority of indigenous peoples. So if you're only OK with black and white racial differences, when do you think you all will fight for the indigenous people and give us and them the right to live freely on healthy land and not behind a fence?
Look it up
Why on earth was a Confederate monument erected in the state of Montana in the first place? It didn't become a state until 25 years after the end of the Civil War and wasn't anywhere close to any of the main Civil War battlefields.