An Open Letter to His Honor The Mayor

Your Honor,

Let’s talk about prejudice.

You have in public hearing referred to the Daughters of the Confederacy as Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists and Liars and you have said it does not matter what those women say about themselves, what really matters is what you say about them. Remember they are women and you are a man. Remember they are private citizens and you are a Public Servant. Remember you have never met any of them personally or spoken to any of them personally, but you have liabled them and slandered them in public as Mayor of the City of Madison. Although you represent the city in its entirely, you alone have done this.

Remember you alone ordered the removal of a privately funded monument in Forest Hill Cemetery and now belatedly seek approval from other city committees as a tacit endorsement of your executive and exclusive actions. You find the words ‘Confederate’ and ‘valiant’ and ‘unsung heroes’ offensive though you yourself once rebelled against authority, perhaps fought valiantly for what you believed and cannot prove the unsung noted on the Confederate Rest monument were not heroes. Perhaps they carried a wounded comrade to safety under fire. Perhaps they shared a morsel of bread while in captivity as prisoners of war in Madison where they died. They certainly surrendered to Union forces, unwilling that further bloodshed should ensue, hoping no doubt for humane and merciful treatment as Union prisoners of war. That should make them heroes enough.

Also, Your Honor, please consider what it might have been like to hold a public meeting before you tampered with the dead and their memory; might have asked public opinion before you started removing monuments; might have asked the State Historical Society if they would accept such a monument if the public deemed it offensive and then taken it upon yourself to solicit private funds to affect the changes you so passionately desired rather than rely on public funs to put to rest the crisis you alone have created.

Your Honor, can you prove that anyone has been denied a job, housing, transportation, food, clothing or shelter or public assistance of any sort in Madison as a direct result of the words which appear on the Confederate Rest monument you have ordered hidden in an undisclosed location and will not allow to be viewed even by members of the press?

Why in a campaign year would you go to a cemetery to find cause for publicity when the crying living needs of this city demand dynamic leadership? Shall we speak of streets, schools, health, education, crime, corruption or shall we spend our time debating history and how nice we all wish it had been?

Allow me to make a suggestion, Your Honor.

You and your administration serve with such self-sacrifice and distinction and such unsung heroics that some day people raise money to raise a monument to you.

Only remember by your own precedent if later any functionary disagrees with what you have done for whatever personal reasons, the monument to you may be removed and hidden and people who loved you in private may be called ugly words in public.

Your Obedient Servant,

John Edwin Fons