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Opposing views: locals clash on Confederate monument destination

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LPR staff report

The following speeches were presented to Caldwell County Commissioners Tuesday morning concerning the Confederate monument that stands just outside the court house.
The first, presented by Rev. Ryan Lozano, argues against removing the monument from the courthouse grounds, while the second, presented by Sterling Riles, argues in favor of its removal.
Their speeches have not been altered or reduced and represent the views of the indivuals.They’re being presented in the order in which the two spoke this morning.

Ryan Lozano

Good morning, Judge, commissioners. I’d like to state that while I’m remaining vested because I was here to do the invocation. I’m not speaking on behalf of my church.
What we’re experiencing in the removal of these confederate monuments is part of a movement that is nothing less than cultural nihilism. Nihilism being the viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded, and their existence is useless and immoral. Thereafter, their destruction is desirable.
Other than Black Lives Matter, the only group actively engaged in destroying monuments is ISIS, but there have been others in history. The Jacobins in France, who destroyed the most beautiful stained glass in the world. The Nazis, who destroyed Jewish cemeteries and monuments. The Red Guard, who destroyed thirty centuries of priceless art because it did not fit in with chairman Moa’s little red book.
In purging this history, confederate monuments are just the start. Monuments and graves of non-confederates have recently come under attack and been defaced. One prominent member of the civil rights industry has launched a personal crusade against the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C., which carried to its logical conclusion: we’d better get ready to rip down a lot of monuments and change the name of a lot of places.
New York, for example, was named for James Stewart, the Duke of York. He also directed the Royal African company, which transported more than 100,000 slaves from Africa to the new world. He was a slave trader, if you’ll forgive the pun, in a monumental way.
There are those right now who are shaking their heads, saying it will never happen, but it will. What’s to stop it? With these groups, one demand is followed by another. If we succumb to their demands to rip down the monuments, they would be followed by demands for larger and greater motions oater. There is no end to these insatiable demands.
These collaborators, these fellow travelers, who are prepared to outlaw the confederate battle flag and monument should be prepared for demands to scrap the American flag, as well. Louis Farrakhan was entirely consistent when he demanded the United States flag be changed.
When it was created, every one of those 13 stripes represented a slave holding colony. When the county was formed, every one of the 13 stripes represented a slave state.
The southern battle flag never flew over a slave ship, but Old Glory did. Most of the attitude of these so-called activists is based on a flawed view of history. They look upon history from the present to the past, and thus they judge the people of the past based on the cultural mores of today, but they do not live their lives that way. None of us do. We all live our lives from the present to the future. The people of the past live their lives from the present to their future. We should judge them accordingly.
Martin Luther King, for example, opposed gay marriage. Are the people of the future going to call him a homophobe or an anti-gay bigot and tear down his monuments? I sincerely hope they do not, but anything is possible.
The same could be said for Robert E. Lee. I disagree with some of the things that General Lee did, such as losing the Battle of Gettysburg, but I agree with Franklin D. Roosevelt who called him the most Christ-like American who ever lived, or Winston Churchill, who called him the most noble man who ever spoke the English language. Like Lincoln, he advocated the gradual emancipation of the slaves. Rather than destroy Lee’s statue, we should be teaching his values in our schools. What if we had a nation of Robert E. Lees? Do you think we would have had the numbers of murders committed yesterday in Chicago? I don’t think so.
What should we do now? First, we should pray. During the war, for southern south determination, General Lee prayed for the northern people every night. We should pray for the self-ordained politically correct in the hope that God might cure their arrogance – that they might develop some self-discernment, judgment, discretion and intelligence, perhaps even some class.
Prayer should always be our option of the first resort, and second, we must stop apologizing for our history. Cultural nihilism must be checked or western civilization itself may disappear from our continent.

Sterling Riles

Good morning. My name is Sterling Riles. I’m from Lockhart, Texas. I’ve been here pretty much my whole life. It’s 2020, and I’m bothered by the fact that we’re having this debate about symbols that, for people like me, have been symbols of hate, opposition, anger, violence and destruction.
I listened to my grandparents for many years fight and complain about people with those confederate flags — people with those confederate monuments — how they stood in their way, spit in their face, opposed them at every turn.
And today I sit and I listen to somebody say that this is something that I should be proud to remember – a history that should remain and constantly spit in the face of so many minorities.
Today, I stand here one man, but I echo the sentiments of 22 million people who are fed up and sick and tired of spending their lives having to look at crap like this every single day — hearing people justify our family members being raped, molested, fathers watching their daughters beat and raped in front them, watching their wives defiled by monsters that some hold in high regard and feel like they should be memorialized. How is that fair?
Stephen E. Lee and some of the leaders of the Confederacy, they themselves said that they didn’t want these monuments up. Why? Because they wanted to see the nation heal. How can we heal?
People want to revert all the way back to slavery. We don’t have to back to slavery to talk about some of the stuff that’s gone on. We can go right back here to the 60’s and 70’s in my lifetime. I can recall times right here in Smithville, Texas when I’m out here with my family. We’re picking pecans, and these confederate fools roll by with these flags in their windows and they start throwing beer cans at us, calling us n-words and all that, but I’m supposed to be happy? I’m supposed to stand here proud and celebrate a monument that spits in my face?
I got kids taking pictures from the high school. School pictures in front of these Confederate monuments that make a mockery of us. That’s not a game to me. That’s not something to wink at. That’s not something I can easily digest in 2020. This nation is on fire today because so many people are fed up of hearing the excuses.
When you walk into a courthouse, we’re still fighting for equality and justice in the courthouse – on harsher sentences, longer sentences for the same crimes as other people. And then when you look at that bench, you see a confederate flag on the one side and an American flag on the other. These flags have duality. Yes, the history is complicated, but it’s like asking the Jew to sit and go into every courthouse in their country and see a swastika and expect justice – to come into their courthouses and walk on the lawn and see swastikas, Adolf Hitler memorials and somebody tells you, “it’s ok, it’s a part of history. Just accept it.”
I won’t accept it. I’m not going to accept it, nor will the many people that echo the same sentiment as me. They’re not going to accept it. The United States Marine Core was monumental in the fact that they themselves agreed that this was something that just needs to come out. I’ve spent 13 years of my life in war zones, right up until November of last year. 13 years.
My grandfather fought in wars. I hear people say all the time, “oh, my grandfather fought in World War II.” Yeah, we’ve got grandparents fighting in those wars, too, only to come home to be second-class citizens – to be denied the freedom that they helped fight so your grandparents could be free. Where’s the justice in that? When your enemy is treated better than you are, and you gave the same sacrifice as everybody else. He talked about graves. What about the graves of our forefathers whose families didn’t even get to bury them, or the burial grounds that went unmarked? No monuments made for them.
How many times has Lockhart High School been over here to teach these kids about this monument? Never. I’ve been in this town my whole life. I’ve never once been brought over here to this school to teach and learn like all these people keep talking about. That’s an excuse to spit in my face in 2020, because that’s all it is. That’s all it will ever be – is a spit in the face to every minority who walks by and has to endure seeing this.
Put it in a museum with the rest of the stuff. You want people to learn from it? Removing it from the public sight and putting in a museum is not going to erase the history, like this gentleman said. That’s Ludacris of a statement. Put it in a museum where things are remembered, but removing it from the courthouse lawn where everybody has to come in here and see it is not erasing it from history. That’s just common sense, and that’s my two cents.

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2 comments

  1. Marty Spellerberg 11 June, 2020 at 23:08 Reply

    What this “both sides” presentation obscures is that during Tuesday’s comment period many more citizens spoke out in support of relocation than spoke against it. Readers should not be given the inaccurate impression that the arguments were equally weighted.

    I call on the LPR to print in-full the well-researched remarks by petition organizer Cody Kimbell.

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