CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The time has come to take down the Confederate memorial at the State Capitol in Charleston and relegate it to its rightful place in history.
Now is the time because, during this sesquicentennial of the Civil War, there will be resurgence by those who seek to glorify the South's role, and it should not be.
The monument is actually a pedestal for the Stonewall Jackson statue that was erected at a time when revisionist history glamorized the Confederate cause in an attempt to gloss over the horrors of slavery.
The so-called "Lost Cause" school sought to blame the North for provoking the war. Southerners painted the antebellum political climate as a struggle for state's rights and an assault on Southerners' noble way of life.
In actuality, however, the Southern cause was an affront to the basic American value that all people are created equal. Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens supported "the great truth that the negro's... subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition."
West Virginia really is the last place to have a Confederate monument, for plantation life was anathema to the Trans-Allegheny region. Not only did plantation life defend the slave economy, but it also embodied aristocratic suppression of mountain people. Western Virginians were always second-class citizens in the southern patrician society of Tidewater, Virginia, with negligible political power in Richmond.
That West Virginia was formed during a period of the war when Confederate forces were strongest (pre-Vicksburg) and prosecuting the war in Union territory (pre-Gettysburg) stands as testament to our state's resolve and allegiance to the United States.
The brave souls who met in Wheeling had little tolerance for slavery and saw the Confederate cause as ignoble and culturally depraved. They literally risked their lives for our new state and country.
Southern military leaders like Jackson, who had once sworn to uphold the Constitution and allegiance to the United States, effectively betrayed their nation, took up arms to subjugate loyal Americans and burned their homes.
While invoking the name of God in their bellicose cause, they witnessed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and systematically hung their own men who deserted. And for what? The Lost Cause school would hold that it was a war for property rights and a gallant way of life.
The monument on our Capitol lawn stands not for honor and nobility but for oppression, brutality, depravation and extreme racial subjugation.