Should Controversial Historical Statues be Removed?

Cameron

Member
This is a hot debate right now. As it stands, there's a group of people out there who believe that what they regard as offensive historical Confederate statues should be removed from public sight and disposed of. There is another group of people who believe that these statues should stay, regardless of their perceived offensiveness. In today's post, we'll tackle both of these viewpoints. And to kick things off, I'll take the affirmative view. I'll argue that these statues should be removed and that they should never have been erected in the first place. I'll also tell you why.

The Statues Represent a Lie - A Revisionist's History

Not many people know this, but the history we learn today isn't exactly accurate. For example, let's take the succession from the union by 11 states back in 1861. Today's history books tell us that these states succeeded due to their plight against the over industrialization of America. We learn that these states argued against a changing culture and were attempting to maintain their rural lifestyles. This, of course, came only after the south lost the Civil War. Before the war, their plight was quite another story. Back then, these very same states argued that slaves were an absolute necessity to agriculture and the global economy. That only blacks can work in the hot sun of the south and to rid the south of slavery would be akin to ruining the ways of life for millions of people.

After the war was lost, the south went on what we might regard as a public relations tour. They erected statues across the lands in an effort to revise history in their favor. Many southerners concluded that blacks in America needed to be enslaved for their own good and by ridding the lands of slavery, a great disservice was done to all. Laws were enacted (Jim Crow) to keep blacks and whites segregated and statues were created and placed in strategic locations to honor the fallen heroes - those who tried with all their might to keep the order. So instead of admitting they were wrong in their argument that slavery was needed for economic success before the war, they argued after the war that what they were doing was right for different reasons and that those who fought the good fight should be immortalized.

These weren't the only revisionist statues to be placed around the nation. Others, such as those that replicated the likeness of Christopher Columbus as well as slave owning presidents were placed in other strategic locations, and not only in the south. Many believe that these presidents perpetrated grave injustices on human beings and that Christopher Columbus was a colonizer who engaged in genocide. By erecting these types of statues, true history is being erased and replaced by one that glorifies this type of person. It's a revisionist history that should be rejected and their statues should come down.

The Statues are Merely the Reminder of Racism We Don't Need

Multiple Harvard professors have agreed that the fact that we as American's celebrate our torrid history with slavery is evidence of our hesitance to overcome it. Some people believe that the United States of America is racist to its core and that we as Americans are holding onto our white supremacist views by not allowing these symbols of racism to come down. And by not removing the statues, which are racist symbols, we're not allowing time to heal our wounds. We're merely propagating our long held beliefs in silence.

Many black southerners question why the statues were created and put up at all. After all, the south lost the Civil War and since when did a region celebrate the losers of a war? The conclusion must be that white supremacy exists and these statues are a blatant attempt at perpetuating a certain type of mindset - one that says that whites are still the winners, no matter what. And on top of the psychological effects of having southern blacks look at these statues every day, there's a clear historical effect as well. One that states that whites are supreme and that's central to the culture of the south. With a statement like that, it becomes clear that racism in the south is alive and well and the statues are there to prove it.

Some believe that monuments should only be erected to celebrate our highest ideals, not our worst sins. They should represent what we aspire to, not our hateful acts of the past. Monuments that celebrate a dark past should be taken down and never shown again.

The biggest slap in the face is actually financial. Every year, it costs millions of dollars to maintain these racist symbols. This money comes from the taxpayer, which black Americans are. So really, black Americans are paying for their own statues that celebrate something they're against.

There Are Many More Diverse Figures Who Would Make Better Statues

Did you know that we've got approximately 5,100 statues of people in the United States? Did you know that fewer than 500 of them are of women and blacks? That's crazy to think about and one needs to wonder why that's the case.

Certain groups are under represented via statues. That's a fact. The reason why should be the primary concern. What does a statue signify? If it signifies only dominance, success, growth, and prosperity, then sure, keep them all as white men. But if statues are meant to signify diversity and inclusion, then we need to rethink why so many groups are underrepresented.

There have been many petitions to remove statues across the south that represent the likeness of slavery sympathizers and to replace them with various personalities, from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash to Muhammed Ali and Wendell Berry. Basically, many minority Americans are fed up with statues in their areas that glorify the white man and they'd like to replace them with something that aligns more with their own beliefs, values, and traditions.
 

Newman

Member
This is an excellent debate to have and since I am not in agreement with taking down statues of any type, I think I'll jump in here to take the negative view. To me, removing controversial statues, especially the ones in the news recently, is absurd. This should be hard. Someone hold my beer.

History is History - Don't Censor or Whitewash it

The statues in question were put up for a reason. If we assume that those who erected them were of a level of intelligence and were rational beings, who are we to question their judgement? Years and years later, we assume that we can stroll along and censor the speech of those who have already passed? Are we better than them in some way? Are we more virtuous? Do we know something today that they didn't know back then?

Even Donald Trump said that the campaign of removing southern statues and statues of Columbus is a cruel form of censorship. That it violates everything that we hold dear as Americans. I tend to agree with our president. When he stated that it was the will of a small group of individuals to erase part of our country's history with the intent of replacing it with their own oppressive regime, I agreed. I hope Trump fights this battle and I hope he wins.

As it pertains to speech, we as Americans don't whitewash what was once said. It was said and we must own up to that. We don't pull the rug over our past to pretend that it never happened. We live in an imperfect nation, but a nation that continuously improves. That's what we are and who we are. We also have something called the First Amendment. This amendment protects speech. Erecting statues is a form of free speech and just because a small minority of people disagree with the message a statue sends doesn't give them the right to take it down. Especially the way they're being taken down. The reason free speech exists is to protect unpopular opinions. If something that was said wasn't unpopular, it wouldn't need protecting. Why don't we go ahead and burn all the books we disagree with as well. Let's just have a big agreeable society.

Another thing - just because someone disagrees with the message a statue is allegedly stating, they don't automatically have the right to vandalize and remove what they don't approve of. Our nation is constantly changing and evolving. If someone doesn't agree with something, there's a process for rectifying it. But first, perhaps that person should educate themselves on what the statue actually is and what it means.

Many people believe the lie that the Civil War was fought only over slavery. It wasn't. While the existence of slavery played its part, it wasn't the only reason that thousands of young men fought and lost their lives. To reduce every soldier's life to that of protecting southern slavery is a disgrace. It's a limited view and it's naive. Many of the statues we see today hold deep meaning for many southern families. Don't presume to know or understand what people went through, just because you read something or watched some video on the internet. Ask someone and perhaps they'll educate you.

If ruining things people didn't like or agree with was the norm, the Christians of yesteryear in Rome would have torn down various pagan statues and tumbled the Colosseum.

As stated above, the Civil War was about more than slavery. After the war was over, yes, slavery was abolished, but the federal government also asserted it's power over the states. Systemic racism continued. Lives changed and by putting up different statues, the people of the time were expressing themselves. Who are we to whitewash that history? Do the words of the past mean nothing? Do we just turn away and pretend things that happened didn't happen? What occurred may be inconvenient, but it still took place. We should be using these statues to teach the kids of today about the successes and failures of society back then. Educate the kids, don't shield them from it.

Where Does it End?

Have you noticed that people out there are getting more and more extreme every day? Let's say we remove a stature of a general who fought for the south in the Civil War. That may be fine. But what if someone tomorrow decided that we should also take action against this general's old neighbor. Or wife. Of relatives. Or old grade school teacher. You think that sounds funny? Have you heard some of the suggestions out there? There are people taking down statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ulysses S. Grant. If this is okay today, who will decide what's okay tomorrow? Again, it's not like taking these statues is put to committee. Criminals are going out under the cover of darkness, vandalizing, and destroying property. To many Americans, it's already been too much. The average American is sick and tired of the antics of a tiny minority. Most Americans don't agree with a bit of what's going on.

Some may say that George Washington was an evil man for owning slaves. Was he evil? It seems as though he managed to free an entire nation from the tyranny of the British. He also said no to those who encouraged him to become king of our nation. And finally, upon his death, he free his slaves. That doesn't sound like an evil man to me. So why are people trying to destroy his statues again?

Others who have been vilified were good men as well. Both Thomas Jefferson and Ulysses S. Grant were good men as well. They may have been slave owners, but their good deeds outweigh their perceived bad. The fact of the matter is that many of these internet warriors of today have no idea what they're talking about. How would they? Many of them don't own a thing and many of them have never worked a day in their lives. So it's these people we want to be taking instruction from? Why? What skin have they put in the game? What do they have to offer besides their big mouths?

When a statue is erected, it's erected because of the goodness an individual or group offered society. Everyone has a dark past in one way or another. There isn't one person on earth who is totally and completely virtuous. If we were to go by the standard this internet crew is attempting to impose, there will never be another statue put up in America - ever. No one would be able to live up to that standard. Except those who dress in black, tie a rope around a statue's neck, and pull it down with an old broken down Honda Civic. Yes, we should all be taking lessons on virtue from these people. Twenty year old criminals.

It's a slippery slope my friends. The way I see it, if we're going to remove the statues of everyone who we may disagree with, we should also visit their graves, tear them from the ground, and dump their bodies in the river. Let them float away. We should also find every historic battlefield and build condos on them. Let's go all the way. Hey, why not?

Historic Statues Don't Cause Racism - Ideas Do

Did you know that I once had a friend who wasn't racist at all, right up until the point he saw a statue of a Confederate general? After that, total racist. His transformation was incredible. Yeah, that happened to...nobody. Ever. What are people so scared of? Do they think their children are going to turn into racists after they see some statues? That may only happen if they aren't educated about our nation's past. If we keep things in the dark, the adults of tomorrow may make poor decisions, simply based on being ignorant. But if we show the country's children the various statues and tell them what they mean and why they were built, then we may just have a few educated people on our hands. And that's not such a bad thing. Do you know what makes a racist? Racist parents make racist children. Bad experiences make people racist. Dark souls make people racist. Statues don't.

I've always thought that next to every controversial statue should be a plaque that gives a lot of information about the individual who is being immortalized. Tell the viewers a bit of information. Educate them. That's not such a bad idea, which is evidenced by many scholars agreeing with it. But don't only express the bad of the person, also express the accomplishments and how the person helped society as whole. Let the person looking at the statue and reading the plaque make up their own mind.
 
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