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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 1, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 35
Seattle Human Rights Commission statement on Lake View Cemetery Confederate memorial
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Seattle Human Rights Commission statement on Lake View Cemetery Confederate memorial

Seattle declared itself to be a Human Rights City in 2012, committing itself to protect, respect, and fulfill the full range of inherent human rights for all, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other international human rights instruments. This commitment stands at odds with the presence of a Confederate Memorial in our city.

The values for which the Confederate States of America existed, and the values perpetuated by those who maintain its legacy do not support human rights. The memorial erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the Lake View Cemetery is an affront to this City's values, just as it is an affront to Seattle residents affected by racial injustice.

This memorial perpetuates the 'Lost Cause' mythology that holds the Confederate cause to have been a gallant defense of states' rights. But the Confederate States of America rebelled against our country in order to maintain a widespread, insidious, and criminal system of chattel slavery.

The impact of this system, upheld by the South's military and plantation aristocracy, was the kidnapping and cultural genocide of millions of African people. Its legacy was segregation, socioeconomic inequality for people of color, and the disproportionate exercise of state violence against people of color. That legacy would have been impossible were it not for those enlisted soldiers and officers of the Confederacy whose memory such monuments were erected to glorify.

That memory has arisen in new violence, as alt-right and neo-Nazi organizations march through places like Charlottesville, Virginia. The violence they bring, and the equivocal response of the federal government, require that our City, both its government and its private entities like the Lake View Cemetery, take a stand against racism. Memorials like the one at Lake View Cemetery provide rallying inspiration to these bigoted movements, as a statue of Robert E. Lee has in Charlottesville. Lake View Cemetery should follow the example of the City of Bellingham, which has renamed Pickett Bridge. George Pickett, prior to serving as a Confederate General, served the United States in Washington Territory. The Confederate Memorial, by contrast, honors no contribution to our Territory and is relevant only to the Confederate States of America's effort to protect slavery.

We recognize that this memorial stands on private land. In order to better repair the divide of slavery, racism, and recent violence, we urge the Lake View Cemetery Association to immediately seek to remove this memorial.

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