Shaw: It's time to remove Confederate and white supremacist statues from the Capitol
By voting to keep the statues, Reps. Kelly Armstrong, Michelle Fischbach and Jim Hagedorn have betrayed the Minnesotans and others who fought to defend the United States of America.
FARGO — At the U.S. Capitol, there are several statues and busts on public display of Confederates and white supremacists. It is shameful. It is outrageous.
One statue is of former Vice President John Calhoun from South Carolina. Calhoun praised slavery as a positive benefit for both the owners and the slaves and his speeches inspired the South to leave the Union.
One bust is of former Chief Justice Roger Taney. Taney wrote the majority opinion in 1857 of the Dred Scott case, which is often called the worst decision in the history of the Supreme Court. Taney declared that all people of African descent, whether they were free or slaves, were not American citizens. He wrote that Black people are “beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race,” and “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced for slavery for his benefit.”
Another statue is of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The Confederates fought for the right to own people, sell them, torture them and force them to work without compensation. The Confederates were traitors. They went to war against the United States of America.
The good news is that the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to remove the statues. The vote was 285 to 120. The bill’s fate is uncertain in the Senate, primarily because of the absurd filibuster rule.
The bad news is among those voting against removing the statues were North Dakota Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong , and Minnesota Republican Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Jim Hagedorn . Perhaps Fischbach and Hagedorn are unaware that 25,000 Minnesotans fought in the Civil War against the Confederates. They fought valiantly and courageously at the horrifically bloody battles of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg.
At the First Battle of Bull Run, the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment proudly displayed a handmade U.S. flag. It was 18-year-old Northfield resident Edward Needham who saved that flag from falling into enemy hands. “I saw our flagbearer fall, a shot having broken his leg,” Needham wrote. “He acted nobly when he fell. He raised the flag again. He motioned to me and the boys to get it. I sprang forward and grabbed it and then retreated to the rest of the company, where I found our captain shot dead.”
At Gettysburg, outnumbered four to one, the First Minnesota held the Union line against the advancing Confederate army. Still, of the 262 Minnesota soldiers at Gettysburg, only 47 survived. In all, about 2,500 Minnesota soldiers were killed in the war.
By voting to keep the statues, Armstrong, Fischbach and Hagedorn have betrayed the Minnesotans and others who fought to defend the United States of America. There is no good reason to honor Confederates and white supremacists at the seat of this great nation’s government. Those statues represent treason and brutal racism. They must be removed.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.