For the first time in many years, Hillsborough County won’t be endorsing Confederate Memorial Day. With all due respect to Southern heritage, it’s about time.
It wasn’t an easy decision for the Hillsborough County Commission to make. Just take a look at the vote count: Commissioners Jim Norman, Ken Hagan and Brian Blair approved the endorsement. Commissioners Rose Ferlita, Kevin White and Mark Sharpe did not. It was up to commissioner Al Higginbotham, and he refused, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
“I have decided not to sign it because I think it creates pain for others and I just thought it was best to pass on it,” Higginbotham said.
He’s right, but his reason was only one among dozens. There are a lot of reasons why Hillsborough should refuse to endorse Confederate Memorial Day, and the main one lies with the very nature of the Hillsborough County Commission.
The Commission is a public entity, not a private one. An endorsement of the memory of the Confederacy by a public body is a glamorization of the way it managed its society. In case one has forgotten history, the Confederacy didn’t do very well.
It wasn’t only slavery that doomed the Confederacy to failure. It had a deeply flawed economic policy, in which each state had its own currency and could have its own trade policies. The last two centuries of economic thought have consistently said that free, unhindered trade provides the best results. That’s why 25 nations in Europe are trying to make the European Union work: The Confederate way of doing things – which Europe essentially practiced before the inception of the EU – doesn’t work.
There’s also the obvious issue of slavery. According to the Times, Curtis Stokes, the president of the Hillsborough chapter of the NAACP, asked, “What happens when the sons and daughters of the Nazis say (they) want to commemorate Hitler or communism? Do we give them a day also?” The question stands unanswered.
A public endorsement of the memory of the Confederacy is a commemoration of futile, outmoded ideas, both socially and politically. The fact is, human beings are equal.
Privately, of course, people are free to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day any way they please. The United States is, after all, a free country. But it is ironic that the same ideas that once inspired men to fight against the freedom of others now inspires them to fight for their own freedom.