August 9, 2020
To excuse his vote against the removal of statues of Confederate soldiers from the Capitol, Rep. Lee Zeldin claims, “never to have heard from a constituent that they were concerned about statues in the Capitol”— statues honoring the men who fought to protect slavery. Well, Mr. Zeldin, I am a constituent, and I am deeply concerned.
Those eight statues were sent to Washington by Southern states between 1908 and 1931, decades after the Confederate defeat, to honor “the Lost Cause” and to celebrate the triumph of white supremacy through the Jim Crow laws that oppressed and terrorized Blacks in the backlash to Reconstruction. They were installed despite a public outcry by, among others, Union Army veterans and a congressman from Kansas who refused to “sanction an official honor for a traitor.”
Mr. Zeldin is evidently okay with honoring traitors because, he says, “The war is over and the Union won.” Imagine if Germany were to sanction statues honoring Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels in public squares because, “Hey! World War II is over and the allies won!”
We can, and we should choose which parts of our nation’s history to remember with pride. The statues Mr. Zeldin has chosen to protect represent the worst of America’s history. I hope others of his constituents will join me in choosing to stop being represented in Congress by Lee Zeldin.