Is it possible that our local white supremacists don’t realize that not all Civil War memorials celebrate the Confederacy?

Earlier today, the following social media post was forwarded to a reader of this site, who, in turn, shared it with me. It apparently shows white supremacist literature at the base of Ypsilanti’s Civil War memorial in Highland Cemetery.

At the bottom of the above image, you’ll notice one of the comments that was left in response to the post by a member of the white supremacist group that left the literature. “As a Michigander,” the man writes next to his profile photo of Hitler, “this photo brings me great joy.” He then goes on to say, “Hail our People!”

OK, so I’m not so sure how to tell you this, but… if you’re the white supremacist to came out this morning to visit our Civil War memorial… you should probably know that not all Civil War memorials glorify the Confederacy. In fact, some, like this one that you left your lovely bouquet on, actually memorialize the men who gave their lives to stop the traitors against America, like Robert E. Lee, who you so admire. I know it’s a subtle difference, but it’s one that I think you should probably be aware of.

That’s right, the “heritage” you’re “honoring,” when you lay your flowers at this particular monument, isn’t one of racism, but of free black men, and escaped black slaves, joining together with white Michiganders to save the Republic and free those in bondage. And, in fact, this monument marks where many of these men, both black and white, lie buried together… So, yes, by all means, let’s honor the heritage of those men who lay beneath the marker you found in Ypsilanti today that says “They Died To Make Their Country Free.” They were good men, and they died for a noble cause.

You might also be interested to know that this monument, where you decided to share your literature today, was erected in 1895, not just with funds collected from Ypsilanti’s vibrant abolitionist community, but with a contribution from the all-black “John Brown Post” of the Grand Army of the Republic in Detroit. [John Brown, for those who may not recognize the name, was executed in 1859 for his attempt to incite a slave insurrection in Virginia.] I suspect, wherever the spirits of these men may be right now, they’d be happy to know that you’re helping to bring recognition to their heroic work to “make America great.”

I think I probably already made it clear, but it’s worth repeating… Just because a monument mentions the Civil War, doesn’t mean it acknowledges, even just a little bit, the validity of the Confederate cause. As Ypsilanti historian Matt Siegfried mentioned to me this evening, “13,000 Michiganders died fighting the Confederacy, and I don’t know of a single one that died fighting for it.” This monument, in other words, is explicitly, without question, a Union monument… Siegfried went on to say that this section of Highland Cemetery was almost surely “sacred space for the generation of local activists that fought against slavery.” Near this monument, he told me, leading local abolitionist Helen McAndrew is also buried, as well as white officers who fought in the Colored Troops regiments.

So, yeah, you really couldn’t have picked a worse place to make your statement about how we need to remember the Civil War and what our ancestors fought for.

Oh, and that reader of mine who found out about this on social media earlier today, went right to Highland Cemetery and tore up the racist literature that had been left at the base of the monument. Because, as much as some things may change in Ypsi, there’s one thing that will always remain constant… We won’t tolerate shit like this.

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10 Comments

  1. Krump
    Posted August 31, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    In their defense, it’s hard to tell them apart.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/why-those-confederate-soldier-statues-look-a-lot-like-their-union-counterparts/2017/08/18/cefcc1bc-8394-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html

  2. Citywatch
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you Mark. Let’s spread this post far and wide.

  3. Malorie Edwards
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    With an actual pamphlet? We need to acknowledge these people are real and they do live in our community. SPLC hate watch map shows HQ of several groups near here…it’s absolutely no stretch of the imagination to believe this reporting accurate.

  4. Bill
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Ypsi has a very proud union history.

    A lot of Michigander Union Troops passed through Ypsi before heading into battle.

    That’s what the old barracks were there for. That’s where our michigan militias organized into union soldiers. And that’s where the US army grouped Michigan soldiers to await further orders and to ship them out to various battle fields by train.

    Ypsi was a union stronghold. And it pains me to see confederate traitor flags flown here. We were no friends of Robert E. Lee

  5. Mark Higbee
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark and Matt, for this news and astute analysis of it. Yeah, Ypsilanti’s Highland cemetery has a Civil War monument, honoring people who fought to save the United States. Including the Black soldiers who fought for the causes of saving the Union and destroying slavery.

    Ypsilanti has no monuments to Confederate traitors, who fought to destroy the United States and preserve slavery.

    Such distinctions may well be too much of a mental challenge to be comprehensible to many white supremacists. Kind of like those trucks one occasionally sees, flying both the Confederate flag and the U.S. flag: proudly flown by a white guy who doesn’t realize those two flags represented opposing sides of a bloody, deadly war.

    And let’s not forget John Brown, or the John Brown Post in Detroit! His spirit is marching on…

  6. Mark Hergott
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Michigan was the first English Speaking territory on earth to abolish the death penalty. After gaining her statehood, the first adults born into the sovereign womb of Michigan went off to war in order to preserve the republic and free fellow Americans from bondage. Michigan, with all of her flaws and short comings, is my home.

    I am proud of my home. She is not perfect, but I do my best to help fulfill her promise. Every day.

    Unlike these clueless fucking morons.

  7. Debby's Stabbin Now
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Michigan also had a higher number of Klan members, in the 30s, than any southern state….

  8. Iron Lung
    Posted September 2, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    And all the clueless morons who apologize for them.

  9. Stephanie Weaver
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Here they’ve been targeting war memorials in general. It’s not about supporting the Confederacy for them. It’s about creating a new narrative of who/what a white supremacist is — in this case, someone who honors the sacrifices of their forebearers by ensuring the safety of white Americans today.

  10. site admin
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    The same racist organization is recruiting today on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.

    https://twitter.com/IdentityEvropa/status/905528533438443520

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  1. […] out in DC, we’re seeing signs of anti-immigrant sentiment here at home. In addition to the white supremacist literature found in Ypsilanti a few days ago, and recent incidents at the Ann Arbor Skate Park, and Concordia University, the “rock” […]

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