AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, MR. DONALD J. TRUMP:
Greetings to you, sir. I know you are very busy, so I will come right to the point. Charlottesville. There has been a storm of Fake News lately in an attempt to paint all of President Trump’s supporters as “alt-right”, racist, white supremacists. It has been said by the same people creating the divisions that the President hasn’t done enough to end the divide and heal the nation.
So I have an idea that would end the debate if handled properly. In the midst of the effort to tear down monuments to the Southern War of Rebellion, why not build a new slave memorial? To my knowledge, there are none within the United States. We have several Holocaust memorials, but none to one of the greatest human tragedies history has recorded.
It could be a part of the National Parks Service. It should be built in New Orleans, because that was the port where so many African slaves were brought into the United States and sold at auction. You would need to enlist the aid of black historians to help design the exhibits and shape the narrative (all museums show the progression of time, and teach a lesson), and black artists to design and sculpt the monuments. You would purchase land from the city of New Orleans. You could allow Americans to contribute to the construction, like the pennies schoolchildren collected to renovate the Statue of Liberty back during Reagan’s administration. At the same time, use the construction effort as a means to allow American business and private investors to contribute money to the revitalization and renovation of New Orleans, an area that has not recovered fully from Hurricane Katrina. The roads and other infrastructure would require upgrades and improvements. Several new hotels would need to be constructed to accommodate the rise in tourism. Local business would get a bump in trade from selling food and souvenirs. It would greatly benefit the city of New Orleans, and help bring needed jobs to one of America’s most impoverished cities. You should require, as part of the building contracts, that at least 50% of the labor hired for the various projects must be hired from the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, so the jobs that are created will benefit the poor of New Orleans and Louisiana the most.
You are a Republican president, sir. Our party is the Party of Lincoln, of abolition. We fought a war against the Democrats who desired to keep the slaves in bondage, and when they could not do that, seceded to form a new nation where slavery could be continued and extended. What message would it send in the midst of all this mostly media created chaos and bigotry for a Republican president to say that the party that fought to end slavery, that passed the amendments to keep it dead, now desires a means to end discord and promote harmony and peace among all Americans through the promotion of a new National monument, the National Slave Memorial in New Orleans, LA.
Here are some ideas for how it could go:
– The main building that houses the exhibits
– A significant bronze sculpture that would symbolize the memorial as a whole
– A structure similar to Ellis island, where descendants of slaves could come and see their names in the registers of sale, as much as this could be ascertained (I doubt the slave holders cared much about family names and records). It would provide a means for the descendants of slaves to know where their ancestors came from, and get some closure.
– Have some exhibits that show replicas of the ships’ holds where they were housed like animals, where people could lie down, hold the chains to feel how heavy they were, and know how tight and horrible the conditions were for these kidnapped peoples.
– Have a replica slave auction, so they could see some of the implements used to jail, control, and punish slaves. Talk about how families were broken, children sold away from parents, wives from husbands, brother from sister.
– It would be useful to talk about the slave trade as a whole, how it started, different places it was practiced (not all slaves around the world were from Africa), and how it was necessary to create language to dehumanize these peoples to assuage the guilt of the slave holding class.
– It must be pointed out, that the effort to end slavery was begun by white Christians, who were disturbed by the terrible system of human enslavement, and rightly saw it as a moral evil. Remind people that a half million “white” people died fighting the war to end slavery, and that Republicans passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to end slavery permanently, and give former slaves citizenship and the right to vote, over the strong opposition of the Democrat party.
– Bring in the Underground Railroad, how people broke the law and risked imprisonment to get slaves out and smuggle them to the free states in the North. You could build other monuments in the future along that route, much like with the Lewis and Clark expedition.
– Make sure that the whole horrid system is not in any way sanitized by liberal Democrats. The slave traders bought the slaves from West African tribes who made war on their neighbors to capture prisoners who could be sold to European traders. It was the Southern Plantation system, that needed cheap labor for the sugar and cotton trades, which drove the demand for slaves. It was the Democrats who viewed these people as inhuman, and reacted to Northern Abolitionists and Republicans as being tyrants because we wanted to end slavery (much like the Left does now when Christians want to end the inhuman and barbaric practice of abortion).
– Help Americans to see how such a thing could happen, how it was justified with racist language and ideology, how the whole culture and economy in the South was consumed by it, how the North likewise did not view Africans as people, and how Christian ideology, which teaches that all people are equal before God, helped show people why it was wrong and helped create a nation where such a thing was unthinkable.
If handled properly, with dignity and taste, this memorial could be a way to let Americans work together to build something beautiful, and at the same time, allow the nation of America, not “white” people only, but Americans in general, to acknowledge the sins of the past and bring closure to the descendants of those abused, tormented people. It is an opportunity to acknowledge how our nation has been enriched by their descendants, however awful their ancestors’ forced emigration and enslavement was originally.
This needs to come from you, Mr. President. It needs to come from the Republican party. Make the Democrats own their past, and end this wretched lie of the abolitionist Republican party being racist. End this racist attitude against “white” people being encouraged by the Left, and teach Americans to think of one another as Americans only, and love one another as citizens of this great nation.
God bless you sir. My family and I are praying for you and your administration. We want you to succeed, and to do the thing we sent you to Washington to accomplish: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!