United? or Untied?
The last entry on this blog was also posted on Facebook and "boosted" in order to reach a wide audience. It did.
I have pinned it to the top of the page in case you want to read for yourself.
The overwhelming response was "leave it alone", followed closely by “maybe you should leave", and of course, “it's our history (which can't be changed)”. The most common defense was that the statue hasn’t “hurt anybody until now”, as if “now” was too late, and that “anybody” was “somebody I know”. City commissioners have implied that their feedback on this issue is similar.
And so it seems likely that when they take official action it will leave the monument in place. There is a smaller likelihood that an effort will be undertaken to add other monuments or remembrances of Lakeland’s role in the Civil War and other historic eras in order to create a more balanced environment in the park.
This impact of this effort will not be realized for a very long time, if at all, and so it will stand as the “thought that counts”.
Imagine the debate over what history to portray and remember and honor. Whose history exactly? Which moments? Who decides? Who pays? Who - inasmuch as the stature will not - will be moved?
The commentary on the Facebook post is pretty much what we can expect from Facebook commentators and consequently exhibits little empathy or understanding, and so it may be somewhat discounted. The emails, phone calls, and letters to the commissioners may reflect more serious and thoughtful views, and it would serve us all well to know that.
The commissioners themselves are serious and thoughtful as well. You can feel their angst by watching the 30-minute discussion at the November 3rd agenda study.
It can be extremely complicated to "seize the day” and it cannot be done half-heartedly, but when the day arrives with such momentum, it deserves to be considered.
We have been offered an opportunity to create a more inclusive community and we will apparently pass on it. Fear, generated by the noise of agitators who have stormed this issue all across the country, has reached into our home and frozen us in time. Lakeland will just be another place that can’t face it or escape it. Someplace will. Just not Lakeland. Which will become another chapter of our precious “history”.
I repeat my suggestion that the statue be offered to someone who wants it and who will place and preserve it - and its history - in a suitable location accessible to all who wish to honor it. This is not about bringing the community together, which most say will not happen by moving the statue. It is about including those who are willing to say, now, that they have felt - and have actually been - excluded from a place so many of the rest of consider to be a great little city and a strong and safe community.
It is time to make history.
See also Whose monument is it? and Race, racism, monuments, and obstacles
And ... Election Victim: The Movement to Relocate the Statue LkldNOW
The Ledger's Bill Thompson weighs in. Read his editorial here
Register your own view with both the current commission and the new one: