Leftist outrage is like a fire: feeding it doesn’t appease it; it only empowers it to spread its destruction further.
Case in point: the Daily Mail reports that the Democrat chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric Richmond, is demanding the removal of statues depicting Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. “We will never solve America’s race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States in order to keep African-Americans in chains,” Richmond said.
Democrat Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s only black Congressman, agrees: “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol.”
The placement of monuments in Statuary Hall is actually decided by the states. Each one gets to send two, and they can be replaced every ten years — but only if that state’s governor and legislature request a change.
However, if the Left somehow managed to override the states’ wishes, getting them all out would keep people busy for a good long while:
A [statue of General Robert E. Lee, sent by Virginia] has stood in the Capitol since 1909, depicting him in his Confederate uniform […]
Both of Mississippi’s are Confederacy tributes, featuring former Confederate president Jefferson Davis and army colonel James George.
Georgia sent Congress a statue of Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens, who served in the House of Representatives after the Civil War.
Former North Carolina governor Zebulon Vance, who was a Confederate military officer, represents his state along with post-reconstruction governor Charles Brantley Aycock.
One of Florida’s statues is of Edmund Kirby Smith, the last Confederate general to surrender to the Union army.
Alabama’s representative alongside Helen Keller is Joseph Wheeler, a famed Confederate cavalry general whose checkered history includes the 1864 drowning of hundreds of freed slaves when he ordered the withdrawal of a pontoon bridge spanning an overflowing creek.
The Keller statue arrived in 2009, replacing Confederate army officer Jabez Curry.
South Carolina sent statues of Wade Hampton, a Confederate general who fought at Gettysburg, and former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun – who was a powerful pro-slavery spokesman for the South during the Civil War.
It’s bad enough to disregard the historical context of various statues standing by themselves across the country, but to insist they all need to go from Congress is downright maddening.
In fairness, there is some measure of difference between honoring military leaders of the South who felt they had no choice but to serve and saw themselves as defending a home rather than slavery, whose military attributes and leadership skills set an example worth remembering, etc.; and honoring the political leaders of the Confederacy like Davis and Stephens, who led a rebellion for the express purpose of forming a government founded on a denial of human equality and a rejection of the Declaration of Independence.
However, if there’s anywhere in the United States where it makes sense for even those figures to stand, it’s Congress. As anyone who’s ever walked the halls of our nation’s capital knows, it’s basically walking through all of America’s history with the various statues, artifacts, displays, plaques, and the building itself.
As many have pointed out, you don’t have to be a Confederacy sympathizer to see the value of remembering the failures of our history as well as our successes. Well, if that’s true for standalone monuments, it’s doubly true for Congress, where the good and the bad are displayed side by side, giving visitors a fuller picture of America’s complex story.
It may be wise for state leaders to periodically reconsider which statutes best represent their state in Statuary Hall, but that’s a decision each state should decide for itself, and the broader point is the deeply shortsighted and dangerous nature of the impulse to put everything about the past we’d rather forget out of sight and out of mind.