William Shatner, most famous for playing Captain James Kirk in the original Star Trek series, mostly refrains from making political statements, particularly because he is a Canadian reticent to comment on American current affairs.
But as covered by Independent Journal Review, the Star Trek star made an exception after he was attacked on Twitter for having previously funded a statue of a famous horseman who once served in the Confederate army. Shatner countered that it was a statue of a horseman being honored as a horseman–one who subsequently served in the US Army.
The statue in question is of John B. Castleman. During the Civil War, Castleman formed a cavalry unit that went on guerrilla operations against Union supply boats. He was arrested, but his execution sentence was stayed by President Lincoln.
After the war, Castleman was pardoned and eventually became a cavalry leader during the Spanish-American War, participating in the invasion of Puerto Rico and becoming its military governor. For his heroism, Castleman was promoted to brigadier general.
As reported by Independent Journal Review, Shatner is an avid horseman and elite breeder. It was for these reasons he donated money years ago to the construction of a Louisville, Kentucky monument to General Castleman.
As Shatner noted, the statue does not depict Castleman as a soldier–Confederate or otherwise. It portrays the legendary cavalry officer in civilian garb on horseback, representative of Castleman’s real-life exemplary horsemanship.
Despite this, the statue has become the latest target in a nation-wide movement against monuments honoring Confederate historical figures. According to the Courier-Journal, protesters are calling on the city to remove the 15-foot bronze statue, going door-to-door to spark conversation.
This comes after the statue was found covered in orange paint over a week ago, an act of vandalism linked to the Charlottesville, Virginia violence between white supremacists and left-wing Antifa that left three dead.
The protests against the Castleman statue are being led by a group known as Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, which is affiliated with Black Lives Matter. When members of these protest groups learned of Shatner’s involvement with the monument, they took to Twitter to criticize the normally apolitical Star Trek actor.
Shatner noted that there was more to the life of Castleman than his brief service in the Confederate Army. “Sounds like some are only focusing on his time in the Conf army, not his time in the US army or his contributions to the horse world,” he wrote. Shatner then went on to explain that the monument in question is not a “Confederate” statue since it honors Castleman as a private individual–not as a Confederate soldier.
As left-leaning activists continue their crusade against Confederate monuments across the country, William Shatner offered education, instead of consternation, to those who seek to remove a statue of famous equestrian John B. Castleman. Did William Shatner take the right approach?
“The statue is of him as a horseman; not as a Confederate general or Brigadier General of the US Army. What part of that is confusing?” Despite the backlash, Shatner maintained his position, reminding Twitter users that like all Confederate soldiers, Castleman was pardoned. The famed equestrian even fought for the United States of America decades later.
For the moment, the fate of the Castleman statue is undecided. Although Shatner did not convince all his critics, he found favor with many Twitter users who wish to preserve America’s history rather than erase it.