Our mayor loves Fidel Castro but finds “viciousness” in memorial to defeated dead

We’re going to need a lot more plaques!

Only a committed progressive like Madison Mayor Paul Soglin could detect the faint, deep-space, racist dog whistle of white supremacism lurking all these years right there on city property. How the offending stone escaped the attention of the State Historical Society, the Wisconsin State Journal, UW-Madison academics, and the general public all these years is truly a mystery.

In the wake of the August 12 Charlottesville protest, Paul Soglin, mayor of Madison for 21 years (off and on) found his burning cross in a quiet and somber corner of Madison’s most prestigious cemetery, Forest Hill. The vicious monument to hate consists of a large stone standing at the entrance to Confederates Rest, the final resting place of 140 captured southern soldiers who died in captivity at Madison’s Camp Randall in 1862.

The monument had escaped censure for its 86 years on the site. Indeed, it had once had been celebrated as a part of Madison’s history. Today, in the super-heated atmosphere of the Trump Resistance, Mayor Soglin now finds this momument to be a “slab of propaganda” that is “nothing more than a stone lie” and:

“A 1931 vicious neo-Confederate monument to racism and white superiority.”

WSJ at Confederates Rest

Edit page editor Scott Milfred and WI State Journal editor John Smalley examine the memorial stone at Confederates Rest for signs of vicious hate, racism, and/or white privilege

What vicious message does this stone bear? The names of the 140 Johnny Rebs buried in the northern-most Confederate cemetery and this hateful (SNARK-alert) inscription:

Erected in loving memory by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to Mrs. Alice Whiting Waterman “and her boys.”

Sorry, but those rough words had to be reported in the interest of racial healing. “Her boys,” indeed! “Treasonous rebels,” is what Soglin calls them (although Abraham Lincoln, never did). Should have been lined up and shot before they could expire of their wounds, dysentery, and exposure.

Hardly General Lee, triumphant on Traveller

Let’s get real: How, exactly, does the large monument glorify slavery or sedition? Or, for that matter, the plaque, now removed from the ground in front, except (perhaps) to label the soldier dead “unsung heroes.” But then, it is customary to speak well of the dead. These were, after all, American brothers, sons, fathers and husbands.

Who is this Alice woman? Let’s get to some history before it is erased or effaced. Alice Whiting Waterman was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1820 but moved with her family north at age 9, eventually to Madison in 1866 as a widow with the express purpose of caring for the soldier dead, buried so far from their homes and loved ones. For the soldiers who had been dumped in a mass grave, she secured proper headstones, each measuring 2 feet high. She joined “her boys” in 1897, the only civilian buried at the northern-most Confederate cemetery.

The lady may very well have been a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which Soglin excoriates as “a racist organization.” UDC was founded by the daughters and widows of Confederate soldiers in 1891, a period when southern legislatures revoked Reconstruction reforms, persecuted African-Americans — all enforced by hundreds of lynchings every year. So yes, they were likely racists. But then, so was half the country — and not just the south. But they weren’t the Klan.

Whatever their past, the Daughters of the Confederacy, UDC issued this statement just this Monday (08-21-17):

To some, these memorial statues and markers are viewed as divisive and thus unworthy of being allowed to remain in public places. To others, they simply represent a memorial to our forefathers who fought bravely during four years of war.  …

The United Daughters of the Confederacy totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy. And we call on these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes.

Madison is going to need many more plaques

Yes, they and their dead were very much on the wrong side of history. Soglin now says he wants to erect a plaque next to the monument to excoriate the Daughters, to unmask their wicked treachery.

Let’s not stop there. Let’s tell the whole story of progressives like UW president Charles Van Hise (“Human defectives should no longer be allowed to propagate the race.”) Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus and the Madison elementary school named for this progressive racist need new “Soglin plaques.”

For that matter, stick a Soglin plaque next to the UW’s “sifting and winnowing” plaque explaining that it’s O.K. to stifle speech that offends today’s post-Trumpatic snowflakes.

Named slave ownerThe Madison city limit signs need a plaque apologizing that our namesake was a slave master.

While we’re at it, let’s affix a plaque to Paul Soglin. A hammer and sickle with a likeness of the brutal, anti-American dictator Fidel Castro. Make him wear it like Hester Prynne’s letter A. If you’re really serious about human rights.

For further study:

  • The New York Times maps Confederate monuments being taken down across the U.S. They are, overwhelmingly, depicted as heroic figures, often astride prancing horses, located in the heart of the city, if not the state capitol itself.
  • Only two years ago, a UW-Madison team led by professor William Cronon studied Forest Hill Cemetery for the UW’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment. Their study of Forest Hill Cemetery apparently missed the vicious racism.
  • In “Madison in 100 objects”, the Wisconsin State Journal also missed the vicious racism so obvious now to Mayor Soglin (first elected in 1973).



About David Blaska

Madison WI
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23 Responses to Our mayor loves Fidel Castro but finds “viciousness” in memorial to defeated dead

  1. Meade says:

    “These were, after all, American brothers, sons, fathers and husbands.”

    Safe to say most of them were under 20 years old and not one of them owned a single slave.

    Unlike the slaveowner our city is named for, James Madison.


  2. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Soglin didn’t “find” a burning cross at Forest Hill; he planted one there. As for the “sifting and winnowing” plaque on Bascom Hall, we’ll need to install another one beside it for clarification: “Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a haven of inclusion and diversity, where everyone looks different but thinks alike.”


  3. Meade says:

    “While we’re at it, let’s affix a plaque to Paul Soglin. A hammer and sickle with a likeness of the brutal, anti-American dictator Fidel Castro. ”

    If he’s lucky, while affixing his plaque, he might receive a bloody injury to his head which he can wrap in bandage and proudly parade. His Red Badge of Courage.


  4. Tom Paine says:

    All 140 Confederate POW’s died 6 months before the Emancipation Proclamation. No doubt, they all clearly understood that the war was fought by Lincoln because he wanted to eliminate slavery. T’was merely a PC clerical error that the EP wasn’t signed the day after Sumter was shelled. [ not ]


  5. Meade says:

    When in doubt, consult Hank.


    • David Blaska says:

      You DARE post a white southern cracker and his war-mongering music on my site?!! Calls for a Soglin Plaque! Don’t you recall the wise words of President Abraham Lincoln? On the other hand, to “rip open the wound, persecute the widows, with malice toward everyone and charity for none.” In any event, I’m gettin’ me some “Mother’s Best” corn meal for the best hush puppies and hog ration.


  6. madisonexpat says:

    Many moons ago my nephew, Snowflake Madison Expat, arrived at a family reunion, saw me emit a lungful of Tareyton smoke, dashed across an acre of lawn, sat next to me for a few seconds then pulled a disgusted face and waved his hand vigorously in front of his face.
    “I hate cigarette smoke!” He proclaimed.
    “Yes but look how far you had to run to stick your nose in it.” I said.
    Nephew was ten. How old is Mayor Soglin?


  7. madisonexpat says:

    Also, why wasn’t the plaque, rightfully honoring the dedication of Ms. Waterman, offensive during Soglin’s previous attempts at mayoring? For that matter, why weren’t Confederate monuments offensive during President Trump’s predecessor’s time in office?


  8. According to what I read, confederate soldiers are officially considered American veterans and have the same protections as Union soldiers because of an act of Congress called Public Law 810 and other federal laws.
    The mayor is an immoral,political hack who proves by these actions he leads not by solving problems, but rather by wreck-less attacks on the dead and the families of the dead. That takes a special level of weakness and incompetence! This mayor needs to resign! Today if possible! Preferably yesterday! Resign!

    What new crimes is Mayor Soglin responsible for in his latest impulsive and immature actions against our American veterans? Can we at least agree Soglin does not support American vets? What protections does this mayor violate, deny, and take away from these vets?


  9. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Remember back in the 70s when a politician did or said something especially inane or outrageous, he was likely to get whopped in the face by someone wielding a Boston creme pie? Wouldn’t it be great if that fine old tradition saw a comeback here in Madison? Like at the mayor’s next press conference?


  10. old baldy says:

    Interesting twist on things from a R:

    “U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, in a rare break from the president’s views on public policy, said on Thursday that he agrees with people who want Confederate statues removed from their communities.

    “I look at those Southern leaders — that rebellion cost hundreds of thousands of American lives in the Civil War,” said the Republican congressman from Wausau. “They were fighting to keep people enslaved. I don’t honor what they were fighting for.”


    • Meade says:

      It may be true that most of “those Southern (sic) leaders” were fighting to preserve what they called “the peculiar institution” of slavery. But any AP History high school student (or for that matter anyone who has watched Ken Burns’s miniseries, The Civil War), should be able to explain to you how it was that the vast majority of confederate soldiers were not.


  11. madisonexpat says:

    Who asked Sean Duffy to honor any Confederate?


  12. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    No mystery behind the decades-long bromance between our mayor and the murderous dictator of Cuba. Scratch any liberal in Madison and you’ll find the same totalitarian impulses that drove Fidel to oppress his people, demand their unquestioning obedience, and push the world to the brink of nuclear war. The only difference is the local liberals are confined to a much smaller stage than was Soglin’s hirsute heart-throb. They have to make do with dishonoring the long-dead and tying the hands of law enforcement.

    Excellent program on CNN (I know, I know) last night about the Elian Gonzales affair. If Soglin was watching, his heart must have been racing at how adroitly Castro played the game of humiliating the US and gaining political support on the world stage at a time when Cuba was reeling from the fall of the USSR. One commentator claimed that the thousands of Cuban refugee votes Dems lost in Florida as a result of Elian’s (forced) return was pivotal in Bush’s victory.


  13. madisonexpat says:

    Lefties like Uncle Joe Stalin, HoChi Minh, Mao etc. Murderous swine all.
    This lets them channel their inner totalitarian.


  14. Leo says:

    The monument ( or, if you prefer, “slab of propaganda”) that sits among the graves of these
    dead Americans really pays homage to the kindness of Alice Waterman and, in no way, praises
    the dead soldiers or their cause. by the way, I’ve been going to the healthy and positive Memorial Day ceremonies at Forest Hil for nearly 10 years now and have never seen Mayor Soglin in
    attendance at any of them.


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