During the debate on Tuesday, State Rep. John Blust (R) took to the floor to give an impassioned speech on why preserving Confederate memorials was the right thing to do. “We should embrace the history, not forget it,” the eight-term representative implored. He then went on to compare people who think it’s inappropriate to celebrate the Confederacy on public lands to terrorists.
“I would just note, that’s the kind of things ISIS does,” Blust said. “They take over something – Palmyra a few weeks ago – and they destroy all the historical artifacts.”
In his extended speech, which you can listen to here (beginning around 1:49:00), Blust argued that “The beauty of history is how many people sacrificed and died to bring the freedom that we now take for granted.” But the subject of debate wasn’t whether to preserve monuments dedicated to Union soldiers. Instead, it was about whether to continue celebrating on public lands the Confederacy, whose rebellion was centered around continuing the enslavement of black people.
Blust’s side ultimately prevailed. The legislation passed the State House along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor and all but two Democrats opposing. It had passed the State Senate unanimously in April. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the bill on Thursday.
This week, the Tar Heel State took up a bill to prevent historical statues on public lands from being taken down by local municipalities or agencies. Confederate memorials are found on public lands throughout the South, with over 100 in North Carolina alone. Some glorify individual Confederate soldiers, while others celebrate the Confederate rebellion as a whole. (Fusion has put together a map of many of these Confederate monuments.)