Letters to the Editor (02/25/2012)

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Monument raises red flags
Editor:
As a Socorro native, I really appreciate the availability of the Defensor-Chieftain online as a source of news about my hometown. My initial reading of an article in your Feb. 18 issue, entitled “Confederate memorial erected in Socorro cemetery,” seemed innocuous enough, because after having lived in Texas for over 30 years, I have grown accustomed to seeing Confederate monuments in front of the courthouse of practically every county in the state.
However, when I enlarged the picture accompanying this story to read the inscription on the monument standing not in the Old South, but in Socorro, all kinds of red flags went up. Apparently, the author of this memorial would like the Socorro public to view the Civil War from the perspective of a Confederate sympathizer. Contrary to what I learned in Mr. Vernon Cox’s American History class at Socorro High in 1961-62, visitors to this memorial will be surprised to find chiseled in stone that the Civil War has been renamed the “War for Southern Independence.”
Furthermore, this war was fought “to liberate our beloved Texas and Southland during this momentous struggle in American history,” and the monument was erected to honor the memory of those soldiers who lost their lives in New Mexico “in the defense of the Confederate States of America.”
This was not a war for Southern independence or a war in defense of the Confederate States. First and foremost, it was a war to preserve the practice of enslaving human beings. After having fired the first shot at Fort Sumter, how can Confederate sympathizers make the claim that the Rebel Army was simply defending itself? And what threat did the New Mexico Territory pose to the Confederacy? The real reason for invading our part of the Southwest was to proceed to California and plunder its gold fields to further finance the war.
The common soldier who loses his life fighting for a cause that is morally indefensible is as much a victim as one who dies fighting for what is right. I have no quarrel with honoring the memory of those Confederate soldiers who died in New Mexico, but I do take issue with those who would have us look at one of the ugliest period of American History through rose-colored glasses. Slavery was wrong and fighting over it cannot be justified because a group of states seceded. This matter was settled once and for all when the forces of the government of the United States defeated the insurgent Confederate army and the Union was preserved.
Edward R. Baca
Dallas, Texas

Memorial is a blemish on city
Editor:
It was with sadness that I read the El Defensor Chieftain’s Saturday, Feb. 18, edition article on the confederate memorial erected in the Socorro cemetery.
This may appear as a benign occurrence, on a par with the Civil War reenactments we’ve all enjoyed. However, the instigators of the project are two groups, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “white supremacy,” racial hate groups.
Socorro now has a monument that publicizes these hate groups. Their names appear in large letters on the monument. Even the Civil War is referred to as the “War for Southern Independence” (neo-Confederate speak).
White supremacy hate groups are already using the Internet to highlight El Defensor Chieftain’s uncritical article and bragging about their publicity success. Will our Civil War reenactments be tainted with hate philosophy by joining in with the memorial dedication?
It seems clear that this memorial has been erected to publicize the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy and establish a foothold for “white supremacy” in Socorro. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a magnet drawing hate group members to our town.
How can association with white supremacy and racial hate be of any value to the Socorro economy? Surely it doesn’t reflect the moral values of the vast majority of Socorro’s residents. This memorial is truly an embarrassment and a blemish on the city of Socorro.
Len Truesdell
Socorro