You can whip up a snappy catch phrase (“Heritage, Not Hate,” “State’s Rights,” whatever), talk about the importance of history and our forebears, but this doesn’t change the facts. Monuments to the Confederacy honor people who committed treason against the United States and pay homage to a system that condones people owning other people.
So what are the facts? It’s simple. Jim Crow was the law of the land for 100 years and that’s when these statues went up, that’s why they went up. In fact, you’ll see here that a STUNNING number of these monuments went up in he first quarter of the Twentieth Century, NOT the Nineteenth. The purpose of these statues is to disparage an entire race. You could say the statues celebrate history (although the word “celebrate” just barfed all over itself), you could argue that these statues were erected to facilitate Reconstruction (but again, if you check the dates that most of them were installed, you can see that this can’t be true), but if that history is something you want to celebrate in a park, well, here’s a few reasons why that’s beyond inappropriate.
That’s not what parks are for!
Parks are for children, for families, for people walking their dogs, playing chess, just relaxing, taking a quiet stroll, for reading… you know, flying kites, park stuff. They’re not for celebrating the Confederacy. Monuments are for honoring people and events – history belongs in a museum.
Do you know what “empathy” is?
Can you imagine what it must feel like to be an African American and walk past a statue or monument to the confederacy? Or, for that matter, just anyone who believes in equality? For me, it’s frustrating. I don’t have to experience this on a daily basis, but some people do and they shouldn’t. Wouldn’t it be strange to have the aforementioned King George statue in your face everyday? We don’t honor our Colonial Roots in this country BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE STUPID. We observe our history in museums and places like Colonial Williamsburg (which conducts itself under a strict code of ethics) to understand our history, not to romanticize it.
In case you had the chickenpox that week during 5th grade, how about this? When you’re talking about someone like Robert E. Lee, you’re talking about someone who took up arms against the United States. That’s TREASON. If America had lost the Revolutionary War, I doubt the British would allow a bunch of George Washington statues littering the landscape.
And as long as I’m on the Revolution, check this out:
Yep, we tore down King George statues because he was oppressive. Seeing any parallels yet?
Statues aren’t necessarily meant to stay up forever. They’ve been getting pulled down since… well, since there were statues. Over time, statues can lose context, become belligerent or just irrelevant. Statues to the Confederacy need to be removed from parks and other public spaces and head off the museum where they can be put in their proper context: an unfortunate part of the American past that should never be forgotten, but never celebrated.