In a good-faith effort that is sadly only likely to only annoy most Georgia residents, one brave man is attempting to get the 3-acre Confederate memorial removed from the face of Stone Mountain. Indeed, his efforts seem to being met, predictably, with apathy.
Though I now lay my head in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I was born in raised in various suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, and I would unabashedly support removing the carving.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Atlanta area is blessed with a giant hunk of granite that sticks out of the ground, oh, about 1,700 feet. On the face of the “mountain” is a carving of three men: Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
As a lifelong Georgia resident, I have climbed to Stone Mountain’s rounded top three times. I have swum in the lake, hiked its trails, and attended the infamous beacon of southern pride, the Laser Show Spectacular. Stone Mountain is a standard part of my and many children’s lives in the metro Atlanta area.
My fiancé, however, will not go near the place, despite having also lived in Georgia for many years. I asked him why once and he looked at me as if he could not believe I was asking the question. When I pressed, he simply said that he was not comfortable there, and that, from his past experience, people in the park would not be comfortable seeing us walk together.
You see, my fiancé is black, and I am white. I didn’t get it until he explained it to me—why would I? Stone Mountain was always a safe place for me. But, whatever way you slice it, Stone Mountain Park, and all it’s Southern Heritage “glory” is an area of Georgia that cashes in on residents’ collective nostalgia for a time when they got to own other people. It is profoundly racist. And, yes, that includes the giant carving of the three leaders of the south during the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.
The three men are portrayed as proud and noble, as if they had fought for a good cause rather than something that is one of the most egregious violations of humanity to have ever existed on this planet.
Georgians flock to the great lawn before the carving by the hundreds of thousands every year. They shine lasers on the carving and shoot off fireworks as they listen to “God Bless the USA” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” This carving is the very center of celebrations of southern pride. And, thus, we are cheering on the fight to try and keep slaves.
It is disgusting. And wrong. And while we should never forget slavery, we sure as hell should stop celebrating it.
EDIT: In a previous version of this post, some tense mistakes caused confusion as to whether or not my fiance has visited Stone Mountain. That has now been corrected.