While local officials in towns across the U.S. are scrambling to remove Confederate monuments in the wake of Charlottesville, residents in one Alabama county have decided to go a different direction.
On Sunday afternoon, more than 200 people assembled for the unveiling of a brand-new Confederate monument in Crenshaw County, AL.com reported. The monument — a “modest stone marker,” according to local press — honors the “unknown Confederate soldiers” who died in the Civil War.
The plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, from Charlottesville, Virginia, drew white supremacists and nationalists to the normally quiet college town earlier this month. Scenes of torch-bearing neo-Nazis waving swastikas, chanting “Jews will not replace us”, and doing Nazi salutes shocked the nation. Many local officials, wanting to prevent their jurisdictions from becoming the next flashpoint, worked quickly to take down the structures in the aftermath of that weekend, which left three dead.
Not all defenders of Confederate monuments would consider themselves white supremacists. However, those structures — most erected long after the Civil War ended — are associated with what’s known as the “lost cause of the Confederacy.” The “lost cause” is a belief system whose adherents gloss over the role of slavery in the Civil War and insist the South has been unfairly maligned in the war’s historical retelling. Critics of the monuments say they are dog whistles to white supremacists.
Speakers and attendees at the ceremony on Sunday stressed repeatedly that the timing of the unveiling was a coincidence and had nothing to do with the ongoing wider national conversation raging about race, history and Confederate iconography. The monument itself is on private land next to an RV park.
“That’s why we’re here, is to honor our Confederate dead, to honor our ancestors,” said David Coggins, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member, told the crowd, according to AL.com.