Just one quick glance at the headlines and you will quickly notice a trend:Confederate monuments are coming down…everywhere.
This is not a new topic. Assaults on our history started months ago.
Here at The Federalist Papers Project, we have covered this extensively.
This action, once condemned as erasing history, now seems to be fully accepted because, after all, who would want to commemorate racists?
Or at least that seems to be the common narrative…
First, the statues were offensive to liberals.
Now, statues are being removed in reaction to the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
Believed to be a symbol of solidarity, the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky has prompted him to “speed up his push to relocate two statues to a city park.”
Indeed, the events this weekend have revived discussion of removing statues in Baltimore. CBS Local News reported that Mayor Catherine Pugh today:
[R]eleased a statement saying that it is her intention to remove all of Baltimore’s confederate-era monuments — the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue, the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway, the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell.
Former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration had discussed plans for altering the signage for two of the four statues and removing two of them altogether, but no action was taken before she left office last year.
One picture of a statue in Wyman park reveals one individual’s graffiti which reads, “Remember C-ville.”
Dallas is currently in a heated debate over whether Confederate statues should stay in Pioneer Park.
While others are questioning why eight statues of Confederate men remain in the United States Capitol building.
Or why Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest has a bust in Tennessee’s capitol.
Gainesville just removed a statue today that “was created as a memorial to men of the Gainesville area who lost their lives in the Civil War.”
Others, like angry protestors in Atlanta, have decided to not wait for the removal of statues, and instead deface the Confederate monuments.
The sole “policeman on the scene was surrounded by black-clad antifa protesters shouting “pig.” Black Lives Matter protesters put themselves between the police officer and the antifacism crowd.”
Putting all emotions aside, there are practical issues here we need to think about.
First and foremost, the removal of these statues cost a lot of money. For the city of New Orleans, for example, removing several statues cost the city 1.2 million dollars.
Let’s just assume for the moment that reparations advocates are right and African Americans aresuffering financially from the historical legacy of slavery.
Why do we not have anyone speaking up about allocating funds (that would have been used to remove the statues) to health and education programs to help said portions of the population?
Or, if you don’t agree with reparations advocates, you could certainly argue that one million dollars would be better spent on virtually anything else in the city…police, firemen, hospitals, infrastructure.
Instead, cities are spending money to destroy things. To take down statues. Monuments.
Martin Luther King, Jr. did not crusade to remove Jim Crow signs in the South. To tear down white-only libraries or torch white schools.
No. He pushed for nonviolent direct action to educate the population that opposed him. He helped change people. Not take away things.
As he once said, desegregation is physical, integration is spiritual.
But this also raises another important question: how do we remember the past? And what should we remember about the past?
There were great presidents who were philanderers. Suffrage activists who were nativists. And civil rights activists who were misogynists.
If we decide to erase entire portions of our history, we also must decide how to frame what is left behind.
Or do we defile and remove ever monument of those who were not perfect?
What are your thoughts?