In case any of you have been living in a bunker somewhere and aren’t aware of it, all across the US there have been protests recently around confederate monuments, either for their removal or against. In some places this has been small, others large, and in some cases very violent. Some of us are all for their removal, but there are some who say they should stay.
Those who want them to stay say they represent southern heritage, or that they are simply showing the history of the country, even if it is a bad history, and should stay as a reminder of that. Yet others are racists and use them as a sign of what they stand for, or even slip to almost worshiping those depicted.
Those of us who support their removal feel they are not only symbols of a violent and painful past, but more importantly symbolize the dehumanizing industry of slavery, as well as the racism that existed then and which still exists to this day. These statues being displayed in public places like they are only glorifies the people depicted, and it promotes the beliefs of those who are depicted. That should not happen in a country like ours.
As to the argument that some make that removing these statues would be erasing history I can only say that I personally do not want to erase history, I want to put it in perspective. I want it in a museum, where it can be shown in a way that can really drive home how horrible and awful some of these people were. We can’t ignore history, but we can put it in context. These should be displayed in a way and in a location that does that. These people were not heroes, even to those who live in the south. Instead they were men willing to go to war against their own country, willing to die or kill even their own brothers, for a cause that was so horrifically inhuman that I literally cannot fathom how a person can believe in it.
In a museum you can talk about tactics of the generals, and how they out-commanded their Union counterparts in many battles. You can talk about their lives, their history, and how they came to serve in the confederacy. But do that in a museum. Do that in a place where you can show the truth and let people make their judgements, not in a place where they are glorified.
These monuments were not erected as monuments to proud people who stood up to fight for their states against an invading army. Most were not even erected directly after the war as a way to honor their dead, even though they were wrong in their beliefs. They were mostly erected during later times, when laws started being passed to force segregation, or later still as a backlash when civil rights laws were finally being passed. They were put in place, mostly, by people supporting racism. They were put in place specifically as a rallying point around that awful point of view. How can we allow things like that to stand in our country?
So if your city has a confederate statue, please contact your city leaders and ask that it be torn down or moved to a museum, to take it out of the place of honor. Whatever their reasons for being displayed originally, they’ve become a sign of the racists and white supremacists, and they need to go away now.