Proposed Civil War Memorial Would 'Both Sides' Lincoln's Assassination
The South just can't quit their memorials to racist traitors. They regularly pitch a fit if black folks try to take down a statue honoring people who fought and died to keep us slaves. Now someone from the heritage and totally not hate crowd has proposed building a brand new one in the rural town of Taneytown, Maryland.
Sculptor Gary Casteel swears up and down, though, that the project is in truth not a Confederate monument but a National Civil War Memorial, a "balanced educational tool." The planned circular monument would measure 90 feet in diameter and feature 16 military leaders and 16 civilians. And then it gets weird.
Casteel sought input from 30 top American historians...
They chose Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Union Gen. George G. Meade, among other military leaders; President Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, among other political figures; while Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Mary Chestnut and Harriet Tubman headline the 16 influential civilians. Also among the civilians would be John Wilkes Booth, who shot and killed Lincoln.
We get that Americans like to honor, for some reason, members of the former Confederacy. The 9/11 museum has an exhibit about Osama bin Laden, but it focuses on the Navy SEALs who killed him. He doesn't have his own bronze bust or painting or anything. You won't even find a Magic Johnson statue in downtown Boston, but when it comes to killing other Americans so you can keep black people as furniture, Americans from all regions can agree, "Eh, they did their best."
This memorial would also be the first in the nation to include both the Great Emancipator and the man who emancipated him from life.
"To think you'd put a portrait of John Wilkes Booth that's the same size as Lincoln, as Grant here," Taneytown City Council member Bradley Wantz said. "I just can't support that. Booth's family didn't even want to mark his grave."
Booth killed a US president in cold blood. This wasn't some random-ass president like James Garfield. Daniel Day Lewis played Lincoln. He's on our money. You can't "both sides" an assassination. Nancy Pelosi was not actually alive during the Civil War, but she was born in Baltimore and is more worthy of celebration than Confederate sympathizer and, according to most reviews, mediocre actor Booth. Not even the Booth family lawyer supports this.
Taneytown is about 15 miles south of Gettysburg, and the mayor and city council has been mostly supportive of the memorial because they think it could spur tourism. Councilman Bradley Wantz, to his credit, thinks the whole idea is bonkers.
WANTZ: "When we went to visit the studio to see what was involved, what [Casteel] was planning, the one thing that stuck out to me is a portrait of John Wilkes Booth being included, without context or anything... Essentially to me, you're memorializing a presidential assassin."
Casteel once organized a pro-traitor flag rally in Gettysburg of all places. It got heated with some random ass shouting that the "South will rise again." It won't. The Washington Post described the 72-year-old sculptor as resembling a "Samuel Clemens impersonator."
Silver-haired, charming and feisty, [Casteel] begins his tale with the unlikely love for the Italian masters he found amid his humble beginnings in West Virginia.
Quite the love letter to this member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. We think Casteel's monument is a dream best deferred indefinitely.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.