Tear Down the Statues

Caesar_Rodney_square.jpg

I like history. I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, where the main square of the city, Rodney Square, was dominated by the equestrian statue of Caesar Rodney above), who rode seventy miles through a thunderstorm from Dover to Philadelphia on the night of July 1-2, 1776, to cast Delaware’s vote for Independence. I read Hamilton before it was cool. I still stop along country roads to read historical markers.

So I like statues and monuments that remind us of history. Even unpleasant history. I admire the German decision to preserve the remnants of Gestapo headquarters in Berlin, with plaques describing the horrors perpetrated by the Gestapo. And the preservation of the concentration camp of Dachau, just as it was in the 1930s and 1940s.

I didn’t like the current movement to remove statues of Confederate generals, even the one of the slave trader/Ku Klux Klan founder, Nathaniel Bedford Forrest. I thought these statues were just history, although some of them were erected in the 1960s, as a sort of f-you response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The trouble with the statues as history is that, to many African-Americans, and to a not-insignificant number of whites, they’ve come to idealize the “good old days” of white supremacy. So when the statues cease to represent history it’s time for them to come down.

 

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4 Responses to “Tear Down the Statues”

  1. Peg Crownover Says:

    I see your point. However, the thoughts & opinions expressed by this generation of violent protestors shouldn’t trump the existence of history. The statues represent the past, good or bad, it happened & removing them doesn’t change a thing. Knowledge, lessons learned, doing better is what counts. History can’t be erased but it doesn’t have to be repeated . Let the statues teach future generations to be better people & learn from our historical mistakes. Tearing them down suppresses this opportunity for growth as a nation. Negative behavior is a powerful tool for learning, as knowing what NOT to do is just as effevtive, if not more, than learning WHAT to do. Statue removal robs future generations these visual lessons . Imho,

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    It isn’t just the violent protesters. It’s also the far greater number of thoughtful people to whom the statues have become a symbol of their inferior position. And the ststues bring affirmation to those who long for the good old days when “nigras” knew their place. Sad, but that’s what the statues have become. Put them in museums, but not at Southern courthouses and parks.

  3. Rob Stone Says:

    The statues must come down since they are glorifying a treasonous attempt to make slavery the law of the land. The real shame is that it has taken us 100 years to finally start an honest discussion about this. It has nothing at all to do with “preserving history” – it has to do with glorifying and making heroes out of people who should be condemned for taking arms against USA in support of the horrific ideology of slavery. By the way – all the high schools named after these criminals need to be renamed – can you imagine as a Jew being forced to attend Hitler High School?? Well, many African-Americans attend Robert E Lee High, US Grant High, etc. That seems pretty clearly offensive and fundamentally wrong.

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