A long-simmering controversy over the prominent place of honor that a Jefferson Davis statue occupies on the South Mall at UT-Austin seems to finally be boiling over. Unknown persons have recently defaced the statue after repeated calls to remove it from the campus have gone unheeded. The phrases “Davis must fall” and “Emancipate UT” have been written on the statue. The statue of Davis is curious at best, since he had no obvious ties to Texas other than the fact that Texas was part of the Confederacy. The statue does note his other service as a Colonel in the U.S. Army, U.S. Secretary of War and as a U.S. Senator but none of those facts would support placement of the statue on a university campus in Texas. And certainly would not support placement of the sculpture at the top of the campus’ most scenic mall seemingly coupled with a statute of George Washington. At least it has been on the UT Campus since the 1930’s and was installed at a time when the school was completely segregated. It seems likely that Davis was placed there as a memorial to the cause of keeping the “coloreds” in their place – a cause that was winning at the time. In contrast, the current effort to build more and more memorials to the Confederacy defies understanding as anything but the dying throes of that same lost cause. Although claiming to honor their “heroes” – the proponents of such Confederate worship are in denial of the fact that they honor traitors to their country whose leadership led millions to die in a futile effort to preserve chattel slavery and a dying way of life. Red acknowledges that there were uncountable acts of heroism on the battlefield by Confederate soldiers – but that heroism is tainted by the cause in which those sacrifices were made. Not all causes are worth celebrating or remembering by public memorialization.
Nonetheless, the controversy has resulted in massive media coverage in the U.S. and elsewhere. Even The Guardian (U.K.) has reported on the growing brouhaha over glorifying the inept former Confederate President.
Pity Jefferson Davis, if you will. Vandals have defaced the Confederate president’s statue on the University of Texas campus, most recently with the words “Davis must fall” and “Emancipate UT”. Student leaders are also seeking to remove the statue from the Austin campus.
“We thought, there are those old ties to slavery and some would find it offensive,” said senior Jamie Nalley, who joined an overwhelming majority of the student government in adopting a resolution in March supporting his ouster.
But as students take aim at Davis, the number of sites in Texas on public and private land that honor the Confederacy is growing – despite the opposition of the NAACP and others. Supporters cite their right to memorialize Confederate veterans and their role in Texas history, while opponents argue the memorials are too often insensitive or antagonistic, while having the backing of public institutions like UT.