Y’all know which statues I’m talking about, right? The ones of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and any other Confederate soldiers.
Yes, I’m saying we should not only take them down, but actually destroy them as well.
- The monuments aren’t history. History is what happened. It’s not monuments that were erected 50+ years after the Civil War ended. Confederates/white supremacists/Klansmen erected this statues to establish the lasting virtue of their ideals. They put them in places (like in front of courthouses) that would continue to intimidate black citizens, as if life wasn’t already hard enough for them. We have textbooks for what happened. We have photos. We have documents. We don’t need the statues. Also, history books. There are so many of those.
- Most people would never have seen a statue of Robert E. Lee. Most people wouldn’t see a statue of any of the traitors anyway (and yes, they were ALL traitors to the United States), probably unless they were in a historical museum that would make them seem important. So great, now we’re highlighting shitty ideals that have no place in the country, mores than we already do.
- White people made the mess, they need to fix it. The reality is that white people created this mess. They need to rein their people back in and find a way to get them to understand that white supremacy is bad. Really, I doubt a statue is going to do that anyway. Understanding why white supremacy is bad should be a thing that people just know. If they don’t, it’s going to take a lot of in-depth conversations and probably meeting real live black people. Not looking at a monument that was created as a memorial for racist ideals.
- Can we stop torturing black people? Look, by now everyone should have figured out that life for black people in the United States is pretty shitty as it is. Black people get shot, can’t get jobs because of their names, pay more for their mortgages, get terrible deals on cars – and the list goes on. Is this not enough? Why must we take down monuments of hate only to re-erect them somewhere else? Class trip to the Civil Rights Museum and the little black kids come face-to-face with a giant statue of the man who thought they were only 3/5 of a person, that they could be owned? How is that fair because white people haven’t figured out any other way to convince each other that was fucked up.
- We aren’t over racism enough. There are still people who don’t get that systemic/institutionalized racism is real. There are still people who say that the US isn’t racist anymore. NeoNazis and Klansman are marching in the streets, faces unobscured, and people are okay with it because “well, that’s their right.” At some point, we have to make a distinction between free speech and hate speech. Were they to try to act on the things they’re saying, they could be sued and would lose, because those ideas VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION. Under the Constitution, all men are equal and have the same rights. The ideas of the KKK and Nazis are in direct opposition to that. But the point is, we’re still racist AF. If we think this is okay, then obviously the statues are fine.
- Saving them gives racists a place to celebrate. If we keep the statues, we’re giving white supremacists exactly what they want – a place for them to revere their heroes. IS that really what we want? Do we really want asshole white supremacist parents taking their kids to the museums and saying, “This was a great man. His ideals are our ideals.” Putting the statues in places where they are on display, almost in a way of honor, continues the perception that those ideas have value.
- We shouldn’t celebrate the false equivalence. Racist/white supremacist/white nationalist ideals do NOT have the same values as those of tolerance and acceptance. Keeping memorials to those ideals suggests otherwise. They give the impression that those ideas were valuable, but that some people disagreed. Just because a lot of people held those values dearly enough to go to war against their own brothers does NOT mean they have VALUE. People have gone on about how those ideas were part of our history so we can’t ignore them. That’s true. Those who don’t know history ARE doomed to repeat it. However, the very fact that there are museums dedicated to the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement necessarily means that there was a fight against something. Otherwise, why would there have been a movement? We don’t need to put the horrible and despicable on a pedestal.
- The artists don’t deserve recognition. For people to have spent what had to be hours upon hours to create these monuments, they had to believe in the ideals espoused by the subject. Why should we celebrate them for that? Why do they deserve any kind of recognition for being vile? We don’t celebrate the doctors who helped create the solution for the gas used in the gas chambers at the concentration camps. This is basically like celebrating an artist whose art killed people. Because really, that’s what it did. These went up at times in history that were particularly awful for black people. They emboldened the KKK to act. Why should we do anything other than destroy the monuments?
But hey, if you’re cool with keeping the statues, this is really just more of the same for minorities. White people again making decisions without taking into account how they might affect black people, or again being more concerned with their fellow white folks than anyone else.
I think that if we want to memorialize the statues we should take video of them being torn down and put THOSE in the museums. You can talk about what they represented and why they had to be taken down. That would accomplish the goal if history, but also what’s right.