The words "Black Lives Matter" spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va. June 25, 2015. It’s a mistake not because there was anything noble about the Confederacy or its raison d’être, which was slavery, but because there is something noble—and, for a free people, necessary—about preserving our history so we can understand who we are and how we should live. But the iconoclasm on display now is about more than anathematizing the Confederacy or scoring cheap political points against hapless Republicans. [5] This essay introduces this type of argument. A more mature society would recognize that the past is always with you and must always be kept in mind. But as the veterans of the war began to die, there was a renewed push for reconciliation between North and South, and with it an outpouring of filial piety. Organize your paper by argument, not by source. The recent spread of iconoclasm was never just about Confederate monuments or even statues. A Lincoln statue in Chicago was burned. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire… we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after.”. In some cases, any monument would do. Iconoclasm of the kind we’ve seen this week is native to the Left, because the entire point is to liberate society from the strictures of tradition and history in order to secure a glorious new future. Of course, the monument boom across the South during the first two decades of the twentieth century came at a time of terrible race relations, mass immigration, and the pernicious influence of the Lost Cause mythos, which poisoned the South. They served to venerate Confederate heroes like Robert E. Lee, thereby cementing the narrative of the Lost Cause and all its misty-eyed nostalgia about the South. The people who defend these Confederate monuments frequently argue it was really about states’ rights, while those on the other side argue that the Civil War was about slavery. President Trump was mocked for suggesting that if we tear down statues of Lee then activists would demand the removal of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson next. Hence the statement issued Thursday by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray calling for the removal of all “symbols of hate, racism and violence that exist in our city.” Murray is at least consistent, as he includes not just Confederate symbols but also a well-known statue of Vladimir Lenin. Why shouldn’t we view them as we should, as a haunting and cautionary tale? For all the tough talk this week about the problems with these historical monuments, there hasn’t been nearly enough discussion of their history. The values these monuments stood for, he says, included a “glorification of the cause of the Civil War.” White women were instrumental in raising funds to build these Confederate monuments. There seem to be at least two core misunderstandings in the Confederate monument … But sure enough, later in the week the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC was vandalized with spray paint. Confederate monuments on public land make black people feel unequal in the eyes of the state, that they are second-class citizens. Civil Rights Activist Argues To Keep Confederate Monuments Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta and African-American civil rights activist, says … Between the start of the Civil War in 1861 and the Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896,17 only 101 Confederate monuments … Utilizing Confederate monuments in my classes offered students a window into the history of the war, but more importantly, it introduced them to … Steve Helber / … Al Sharpton said the Jefferson Memorial should be abandoned. Those in favor of keeping the statues say they reflect history and are a part of the city. A crowd gathers at the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis after it was pulled down off of its pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA., on June 10, 2020. About Kevin D. Williamson June 14, 2020 6:30 AM. Argument Tearing Down Statues Won’t Undo History From the Berlin Wall to Confederate monuments, destroying a historic marker means destroying a learning opportunity. If you click “Agree and Continue” below, you acknowledge that your cookie choices in those tools will be respected and that you otherwise agree to the use of cookies on NPR’s sites. That they were wrong about slavery does not excuse us today from the burden of trying to understand what motivated them to fight—and what motivated them and their families to undertake a flurry of monument-building decades later as the surviving veterans began to die off. Nevertheless, a common objection to these statues today is that because they occupy public spaces, they serve to venerate their subjects, who were of course racists and fought to preserve slavery. Today I will be arguing that confederate monuments should stay up. Before the turn of the century, Confederate graves had for the most part not been cared for in federal cemeteries, and erecting a Confederate monument was considered treasonous. There are three main arguments for ... An example of this is from Colorado’s addition in 2002 of a plaque about the Sand Creek Massacre near its state Civil War monument. 1. A writer at Vice News called for Mount Rushmore to be blown up. But it will make for a poorer, less enlightened future. We must confront our past, not whitewash it. Does removing statues of Columbus or Confederate officials pave the way for action against monuments honoring … For the Left, the Confederacy is just a small part of a much larger problem, which is the past. The Confederate-Monument Controversy Is a Democrat-vs-Democrat Question By Kevin D. Williamson. The modern-day American Left isn’t as bad as all that, but its ideology about the past is more or less the same. GAZETTE: What about the slippery slope argument? The people who want them taken down are confusing, supporting what something stands for and letting it stay due to its historical value. ... My strongest argument against keeping these monuments in public would be that we should follow what Germany did after World War 2. In his tweets, Trump made an argument that white nationalist groups themselves have used for keeping Confederate monuments in public. But if we know the history, why can’t we see them in a different light? Perhaps not all of them need be preserved, but giving into the iconoclasm of the Left, with temperatures running high, will mean we lose far more than we gain by hiding these physical reminders of our nation’s troubled past. Sometimes, they should oblige us to grapple with our nation’s history and the vagaries of human nature. Keep Confederate monuments, but put their horrific history on center stage While Trump is far from right, he is not totally wrong. There’s a reason Christians in Rome didn’t topple all the pagan statues and buildings in the city, or raze the Colosseum. A monument to General Lee in a Confederate cemetery or as part of a battlefield monument ought not to be seen as an affront to anyone. Those in favor of keeping … Controversial statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Charlottesville, Virginia. But that’s an expensive proposition. 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