Monday, July 23, 2007

More on Statues and Monuments: Roger Taney and the Dred Scott Decision

As I am working on my paper on Thomas Ruffin's moral philosophy, "Dealing with the Sins of the Forefathers" from the Washington Post on arrived in my in box.  (Thanks to Peter Storandt.)  The story arises from a controversy in Maryland right now, where some want to remove a bronze image of Chief Justice Roger Taney from the State House in Annapolis and other from the Federick City Hall.  The story quotes descendants of both Scott and Taney--Dred Scott Madison II and J. Charles Taney:

"If we want to get into the business of taking down statues of founding fathers who were flawed, we're going to have to get to a lot of people," Taney, 60, said in an interview from his home in Connecticut. "All of the men of the South -- Jefferson, Washington -- all were flawed in this regard."

From his home in Texas, Madison, 48, agreed. "Someone's statue? If you move it, where do you end? Do you go down South and start removing all of the statues of Confederate officers? It's part of American history. You can't hide it."...

Mighty interesting story, which touches on central issues of monument law.  Harvard Law School has already dealt with some of this:

"It was a profoundly disturbing decision that literally ripped a nation in half," said Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree, who noted that his school removed a painting of Taney from its library in 1992. "It's no surprise that some of the current thinking is that it is not only inappropriate to celebrate him but that any recognition of Taney as anything other than a blight on the federal judiciary is unacceptable."

I have a few thoughts on Dred Scott as a site of reparations talk in this paper.

Alfred L. Brophy
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Some would have us believe that it is of great justice to remove a monument of one of the nation's Chief Justices, Roger Brooke Taney, thereby taking revenge for his writing the opinion in the matter of Dred Scott. Is this a legitimate issue or a revisited controversy contrived to gain a moment in the spotlight of the public?

If legitimate than this 'justice' must include the removal of all statues and monuments of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, including the Washington monument and Monticello. Afterall, both were lifetime supporters and participants in the human bondage of men, women and children. And surely their homeseats, where human bondage was practiced, should not be spared as they too must be an awful effront to the African American.

If legitimate than this 'justice' must include the destruction of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. For both legitimizes the institution and practice of slavery.

If legitimate than this 'justice' must ferret out all things in American history of equal effrontery and mete out its deserved destruction.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

To what advancement, in the righteous cause of equality, does the removal of a statute bring. By employing controversy some fan the flames of hatred and racism and so by doing they extinguish the very dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. To those who should be carrying the torch of hope once held high by the Rev. King, they choose rather to keep alive their own brand of racism and show the sacrifice of Rev. King's life to have been laid down in vain.

"But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted by: ThosPaine | Jul 31, 2007 1:20:53 AM

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