DVA Secretary Zimmerman defends Confederate statues in letter to Ripon newspaper

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel Zimmerman defended Confederate statues in a recent letter to the editor, writing that “social justice warriors” were among those trying to “sanitize our history” by calling for the removal of the monuments.

Zimmerman also called out the “black-hooded, bandana-clad thugs” he said are involved in the anti-fascist movement, but made no mention of neo-Nazis or white supremacists who have rallied around the monuments and clashed with antifa protesters.

“Blacks and whites who were never slaves are fighting whites and others who were never Nazis over statues, monuments and places honoring prominent American historical figures that have been around for two centuries with little concern,” he wrote in a letter to the Ripon Commonwealth Press that was published Aug. 31.

The letter also hit the anti-fascists for using “mob intimidation techniques to silence those who dare call out their criminal antics.”  

“We’re told they’re the good guys and somehow all of this is Donald Trump’s fault,” Zimmerman wrote. “Such was once lunatic fringe logic. The fringe has now become mainstream.”

But Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling says it’s “unacceptable that the Walker administration has refused to denounce white supremacy and is now defending their actions.”

“This hateful and divisive rhetoric isn’t productive or helpful if we want to expand economic opportunities for all Wisconsin working families,” the La Crosse Dem said.

A source tipped off WisPolitics.com to the letter, which has not received any statewide media attention since it was first published. In it, Zimmerman did not identify himself as DVA secretary, instead only listing his home address in Ripon.

Although Zimmerman wrote he was “concerned” about publishing the letter, he ultimately concluded “the re-writing of history must not be unchallenged.”

Zimmerman’s letter, entitled “Unify U.S. by celebrating commonalities, not differences,” also called on building up “this country and its monuments” instead of tearing them down.

A DVA spokeswoman confirmed Zimmerman wrote the letter, adding that his “message was intended to encourage us to reject hateful ideologies and find commonalities that unite us all.” But she declined to answer further questions.

A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker declined to comment on the letter.

See more in today’s REPORT.

SHARE