Guest Editorial: House Representative (11th District) Jeremy Faison

109th General AssemblyThe following is a guest editorial by Jeremy Faison, Tennessee House of Representatives (11th District):

When judging a man’s character from history, I believe that it is imperative to judge actions in two ways.  First, we should judge their life in totality.  Secondly, we should judge them from the standpoint of the accepted norm in society during their lifetime.  For example, some far eastern groups actually believed the earth was flat all the way until the 17th century.  There was a time that a man could actually lose his life for believing the earth was round.  We clearly see now how absolutely absurd this ideology was.

The destruction of historical monuments from our past is a result of a skewed historical perspective.  Slavery is a huge stain on the history of this country.  I am so glad that this archaic and deplorable practice has been abolished and that we have civil rights which apply to everyone living in our country.  However, I would remind you that slavery was and has been an accepted practice for centuries in many cultures. Even the prophet Muhammad owned, traded, and sold slaves. In fact, slavery in the Islamic world persisted and was encouraged well into the 19th century.  Nevertheless, we are not seeing a demolition of this culture or its important history like we are witnessing with our civil war history.

A few years ago, the Tennessee Legislature passed a law that would stop the destruction or removal of a historical figure or monument from government property unless the Historical Commission agreed by a two-thirds majority that the item needed to be removed.  I was one of the legislators who fought for this protection and was proud to do so.  When we allow anger to overflow, we tend to get carried away with our actions and let our emotions get the best of us. There is value in having all sides examine a hot topic or a trending issue and make rational decisions, not ones based on emotion.

Personally, I believe we should preserve the broken history that has guided us to where we are today. For example, 12 of our presidents owned slaves; if we judge them by today’s standards, they would be criticized for their actions as they relate to our current society.  However, we should not judge our nation’s founding fathers solely on certain aspects of their lives.  If we examine their totality, we see in many instances that negative attributes are outweighed by good deeds and positive experiences.  We see that many of the decisions they made helped build the greatest country our world has ever seen. If we erase our history from public record, then our future generations will not understand where we came from and how we arrived at this moment in time.

Before we continue to destroy, dismantle, or remove any additional historical figures or monuments that paint the picture and tell the story of our proud nation, let us judge the men represented by these monuments as we hope to be judged 150 years from now.

Source: Jeremy Faison, Tennessee House of Representatives (11th District); Guest Editorialist

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014