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Monday, June 20, 2022

Taking out the trash on Stone Mountain

Happy first official Juneteenth federal holiday!

Pinkerite had the day off from the day job, in honor of this new holiday.


commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom after the Civil War had ended.

Although the slaves were Black, I don't think this should be considered a Black-only holiday. 

Everybody who hates the enslavement of human beings has cause to celebrate.

My thoughts today turned to the continuing glorification, in the United States, of the Confederacy. Although some monuments have been removed - and I recently saw an interesting documentary on the subject on PBS, which I recommend, called Neutral Ground, there are still plenty left. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (you should donate to them) created a map in 2019 of monuments, existing and removed, and updated it in February 2022.

One of the biggest removal challenges is Stone Mountain. A year ago NPR ran a piece about it:

The carving at the center of the debate is the largest Confederate monument in the world. It depicts Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, on horseback.
"To remove the carving would take a small, tactical nuclear weapon," Stephens said. "Three acres of solid granite, it's probably not going anywhere, that's why we're telling the story about it."

But this is bullshit, and we know it's bullshit, thanks to the squabble among the various KKK members and KKK sympathizers who created the Stone Mountain carving:
The project was greatly advanced by C. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and first president and Honorary Life President of the Georgia State Division. After obtaining the approval of the Georgia UDC, she set up the UDC Stone Mountain Memorial Association. She chose the sculptor Gutzon Borglum for the project and invited him to visit the mountain (although, despite his Ku Klux Klan involvement,  she "would not shake his hand—he was, after all, a Yankee")...

...Financial conflicts between Borglum and the Association led to his firing in 1925.  He destroyed his models, claiming that they were his property, but the Association disagreed and had a warrant issued for his arrest. He was warned of the arrest and narrowly escaped to North Carolina, whose governor, Angus McLean, refused to extradite him, though he could not return to Georgia. The affair was highly publicized and there was much discussion and discord, including discord between Sam Venable, the Association, and its president Hollins Randolph.  The face of Lee that Borglum had partially completed was blasted off the mountain in 1928.
So Lee's face was already blasted off Stone Mountain once, in 1928. It should be easy as pie for us, one hundred years later, to do it again.

I came across a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2017 titled How the Confederates might actually come off Stone Mountain that had some suggestions: 
We asked Bentkowski and other geologists to leave aside political considerations and just think about the logistics of erasing the giant sculpture. They all agreed that removing it is an achievable, if costly, engineering feat...

...There’s the non-explosive option, said Derric Iles, the state geologist for South Dakota, home to Mt. Rushmore, which was carved by the first of three sculptors who worked on Stone Mountain. Air chisels and air hammers could be used, but only if “you have all the time in the world,” Iles said. And money.

So that brings it back to explosives. If you’ve ever descended into the bowels of the Peachtree Center MARTA Station, you’ve seen what targeted explosives can create; tunnels big enough for a train to run through. The stone walls bear the scarring from explosives and the holes bored to put them in place. That’s what would happen at Stone Mountain.

...The relief could be covered, said Robert Hatcher, distinguished scientist in geology at the University of Tennessee. The figures would be smoothed down, then the area filled with concrete.

“It wouldn’t be very pretty,” Hatcher said. “It would deface the mountain...”
But the mountain is already defaced with white supremacy-loving traitors, so not really a problem.

The article keeps talking about how expensive it would be to remove the bas-relief sculpture, but that demonstrates a lack of imagination. I have an idea that would not only pay for the removal, it would address the concerns about "erasing history" that Confederacy-lovers always complain about.

The carving is apparently between 400 and 500 feet off the ground. According to this article, a Civil War era cannon is capable of a range of almost a mile.

I say we set up a row of Civil War era cannons, hoist them to the best trajectory and make people pay for the honor of shooting holes in the Stone Mountain glorification of treason and slavery. Not enough to completely obliterate the image, just enough to express contempt for the slavery-loving traitors portrayed and for the Ku Klux Klan terrorists who brought this bas-relief abomination into existence. 

At a thousand bucks a pop, I guarantee patriots will be lining up for miles for the privilege.

So we get to keep "history" but remove the glorifying aspect.

But of course the real issue here is not logistics or finances. The problem is that in the United States, and especially in the South, there are still many who do not want their precious slavery-loving traitors to be treated disrespectfully. The issue is a political one - always has been, always will be.

A thousand bucks a pop - such a bargain.

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