Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin has taken a lot of public blowback for having the Confederate monuments removed from the Capitol Square, but his decision will put him on the right side of history.
The intertwined issues of police brutality, racism, slavery and discrimination was suddenly blasted to the forefront when George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis last month. In the wake of that tragedy and others, attention to the Black Lives Matter movement has increased exponentially. Not everyone understands what's at stake and why it's important – and even some who do comprehend the gravity of this moment in history won't acknowledge it. They are too vested in bigotries implanted in their minds at an early age.
When the story and photos of the monument removal appeared on the Daily Press Facebook page, several people posted such hateful comments that they had to be removed. TDP's actions had nothing to do with being "politically correct" or fear of reprisal from the Cherokee Nation; they violated the community standards TDP established long ago, which include a ban on personal attacks. Some of the milder remarks remained, but still, many of them revealed more about their authors than they may have intended.
It quickly became clear many folks had never paid attention to the monuments, or cared about them, until Hoskin said he was having them taken away. Those who are more enamored with blocks of granite than they are with their fellow human beings referred to the objects as "statues," or insisted the tribal administration "had no right" to commit this assault on "public property" or trying to "erase history."
Got news: The chief had every right to do what he did. The property belongs to the Cherokee Nation – not the general public, though that was the case when the monuments were erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The intended purpose was to glorify the way of life in the Old South, which included slavery. Cherokee citizens do not deny this legacy of shame; many of them owned slaves themselves, but they'd rather not continue paying homage to their mistakes. Why do so many of the rest of us insist on doggedly hanging onto a dream that was, in fact, a nightmare?
As Hoskin pointed out, the Cherokee people should be able to tell their own story about their history, rather than acquiesce to the version established by the white men (gender use intentional) of a bygone era. As for Cherokee citizens demanding a "vote" on the fate of the monuments, the rest of us have noticed many of them have no problem with President Trump's issuing a unilateral order to protect statues and monuments of "heroes" like Andrew Jackson, whom we now know to be tyrants. Why should Hoskin be forced to seek a referendum to do what's right, while the president needs no consent but his own?
The "rock-huggers" like to call opponents of paeans to racism "snowflakes" and other degrading names, but they are the ones who take umbrage to the slightest insult, real or imagined. They are also hypocrites – like pro-lifers who want to imprison frightened teenage rape victims seeking abortions, but are unfazed by children starving in cages at the border. Many of these detractors also pledge fealty to the Confederate flag, a symbol of sedition, while denying the First Amendment right of anyone else to burn the U.S. flag in protest of federal government maltreatment.
There's plenty of irony in this situation, but the grumblers – especially those crying out in the name of their so-called "Cherokee princess" grandmothers – need to find some other way to channel their frustration with the reality that "times, they are a-changin'." In this case, change is a good thing.