[October 9, 2018] It’s tough being a leader and it’s even harder being a great leader. What separates the great from the mediocre is moral courage. Today, I’ll discuss this very issue. The Madison, Wisconsin City Council recently voted to remove a grave marker of Confederate prisoners of war and in doing so showed their moral cowardice.
The political movement in the United States to tear down Confederate statues has been expanding. It’s difficult to get a firm answer on the ideas behind it because the actors have largely remained anonymous. But from what can be gleaned from media reporting, perpetrators have taken their violent civil disobedience ideas that stem from the rejection of Americans past as a racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. country.
The movement’s growth has now come out of the shadows and is now reflected in decisions being made in open political circles. Politicians have one fear; to be targeted in social media as a racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. and losing their elected positions. Fear drives many of our decisions and that is not noteworthy. Yet when we hold positions of responsibility, it is expected that a leader would resist playing to a mob mentality.
“You don’t have discussion in a cemetery. You have reflection, and you have memories, and this brings up memories that are not so pleasant in our history,” said Council Vice President Sheri Carter1
Madison, Wisconsin’s City Council, however, decided it would just be easier to give in to this political movement and order the removal of a Confederate cemetery grave marker. Council members even lied to the public and argued the POW grave marker was really a “monument;” somehow we are to believe this justifies their decision.
The city council also went against their own Landmark’s Commission recommendation to keep the cemetery grave maker. This is a political scandal of great moral cowardice and shows that even our popularly elected politicians who are smart and successful are not immune to cowardice and ignorance.
The best disinfectant to bad leadership is the sunshine of exposure. There is an unmistakable leadership lesson here; there is and never will be an excuse for moral cowardice. For if you do, you will be forever associated with the depravity of your behavior.