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Tearing down Col. Heg statue was stunningly ignorant

A statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a man who lived in Racine County before serving in the Civil War, was returned to its rightful place on the state Capitol grounds on Sept. 21.

It was only violence, paired with astonishing ignorance, that caused his statue to be torn down 15 months before.

The anger over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020 was understandable, the peaceful protests entirely justified. But the moment any person turns from peaceful protest – a right guaranteed by the First Amendment — to violence, those violent acts are subject to prosecution. That prosecution is justified as well.

The toppling of the Col. Heg statue on June 23, 2020, by those protesting the treatment of African Americans in American society was stunningly misguided.

An Associated Press report on the restoration said that the tearing down of the Heg statue — and that of a nearby statue of a woman symbolizing the state’s “Forward” motto — noted that “Neither statue has any racist history associated with them, but protesters claimed they represented a false narrative that Wisconsin supports black people and racial equity.”

That’s a rather ridiculous claim in the case of Heg.

Heg, who lived in the Town of Norway and in Waterford in Racine County before the war, was a Norwegian immigrant who became an outspoken abolitionist. To make things crystal-clear, Heg was someone who was arguing for the abolition of slavery at a time when some Americans were keeping other human beings as property.

Heg served in the 15th Wisconsin Regiment during the Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, the highest-ranked Wisconsin officer to die in combat during the war.

“The State has sent no braver soldier, and no truer patriot to aid in this mighty struggle for national unity, than Hans Christian Heg,” the Wisconsin State Journal wrote Sept. 29, 1863, reporting the word of his death.

Heg was a man who went to war to defeat those who explicitly sought to preserve slavery in America. To those who would argue the Civil War was about states’ rights, we direct your attention to Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution of the Confederate States: “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”

There’s a phrase often used when framing debates about the great issues of an era: A person is “on the right side of history” or “on the wrong side of history.”

Hans Christian Heg was on the right side of history. Tearing down a statue of him in the name of supporting African Americans is about as ignorant as it gets.

– Kenosha News

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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