It should go without saying, right?
Apparently not. On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade implied a comparison between the memorial of United Airlines Flight 93 passengers to the highly controversial Confederate statues. While interviewing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Kilmeade asked, “Do you worry a hundred years from now, someone's going to try and take that memorial down like they're trying to remake our memorials today?”
The conversation was instigated by Zinke mentioning the debut of a new memorial in Pennsylvania. Rightfully, backlash online was immediate, and it is not hard to understand why. The people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 were targeted by terrorists who sought to threaten the United States’ safety and impose fear on our nation.
More so, the passengers of Flight 93 heroically took control of their hijacked plane, and prevented it from crashing into its intended target, thought to be the Capitol.
For those reasons alone, there should be no comparisons drawn between — or even alluded to — the passengers that the memorials honor and the statues of historical figures who represent anti-American values.
However, it seems that the above reasoning is not enough for some people, so let us look at the facts.
When you consider who these brave Americans are being compared to, it is even more offensive. Statues of Confederate leaders, perhaps most notably Robert E. Lee, represent hateful ideologies that divided the United States, and still does today. Despite Lee trying to mend his relationship with the United States government after the Confederacy collapsed, his actions and views never changed.
He fought to preserve the interests and capital benefits that slavery provided in the South. He also maintained the belief that Black Americans should not be considered equal to White Americans, which included denying them equal political and social rights.
So, why would Kilmeade even consider drawing such a remarkably offensive and inane comparison? Well, likely because he, like many others, think that history can only be represented if it is done in an open, flagrant manner. What I, and many others, have said time and time again is that these statues no longer belong on our streets. They can — and should — be taught in our classrooms, studied at higher levels of education and kept in museums.
Additionally, perhaps in the future, people in the media, the public or the person holding the highest seat in our country can consider one important fact before comparing Confederate statues to people actually worth publicly honoring:
Lee, himself opposed the construction of public memorials to the rebellion, believing that “they would just keep open the war’s many wounds.” I am not saying that we should base our decisions on Lee's own considerations. However, when the key, racist perpetrator sees the writing on the wall more easily than some of our current leaders, it starts to make you wonder.
Finally, it would be remiss to not acknowledge Zinke’s inadequate response to Kilmeade’s implication. In part of Zinke’s response, he says, “Well, I'm one that believes that we should learn from history, and I think our monuments are part of our country's history … monuments are not Republican, Democrat, Independent. The monuments are a tribute to all of us.”
No, Zinke — not all monuments are for all people. The Confederate statues are for a select group of people with hate in their hearts and discriminatory ideologies in their minds that they seek to make an everyday reality. The 9/11 memorials — though incredibly different from the Confederate statues — are not for everyone either. They are a tribute to those who lost their lives, and to the families who lost their loved ones.
Do not try to compare the two and do not make it about you.
Unfortunately, I am sure that we will continue to hear senseless comments like the ones made on “Fox & Friends.” Even so, Kilmeade and all others can rest assured that no one is trying to “remake our memorials.”
Quite the opposite — how could we condemn today’s White Supremacists without acknowledging the long line of bigots that precede them?