Save them, smash them, relocate them or critique them?

I’m not going to write about the tragic events in Charlottesville in this post. I think the VICE News video says it all. It should be obvious that in this particular march, the violence that occurred came overwhelmingly from the alt-right, many of whom came to the march armed with pepper spray and hidden assault weapons (see the end of the video), although I note for the record that a few protesters on the Left did as well. I am frankly mystified by President Trump’s reluctance to condemn the white nationalist marchers en masse and by his bizarre assertion that there were some people “protesting very quietly” at the torchlight march on the night before the rally (which has been debunked by Paul Blake of the BBC), but I doubt whether racism is his underlying motivation: after all, the marchers shouted Nazi slogans against the Jews, and the President’s own daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. Perhaps the man is morally timid, and reluctant to condemn even bad people who might vote for him. Or perhaps the President views racism as self-evidently absurd, requiring no further comment in the 21st century. Or perhaps he fears that by demonizing the 500 or so marchers who took part in the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, he will only succeed in making them look more appealing to alienated juvenile delinquents, thereby consolidating their base of support. I don’t know. In any case, this is not a post about Trump, whose White House seems to be facing a meltdown of its own making.

Instead, what I’d like to write about in this post is the question of what Americans should do with the 718 monuments and statues (709, according to the BBC) situated on public property throughout the country, mostly in the South, although there are also a few in former Union States, including Iowa, Kansas and Pennyslvania, and there’s even one in Massachusetts. The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a paper calling for their removal, and a summary of their responses to counter-arguments can be found on pages 38 to 39.

I’d like to begin by asking viewers how they feel about this video, showing a statue of a Confederate soldier being pulled down in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday (courtesy of World Viral Videos):

Watching the video, I had the sense of a genie being uncorked from a bottle. A dangerous one. And apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about the incident.

Heroes or Iconoclasts?

Writing in the New York Post, Michael Goodwin describes his reaction to the tearing down of the statue of a Confederate soldier, erected “In memory of the boys who wore gray,” in Durham on Monday (The startling reality facing America in wake of Virginia white power rally, August 15, 2017):

On one sightseeing trip around Durham, NC, I saw the statue that was pulled down Monday, and was struck by its prominence. It had stood on a main street since 1924, unprotected and unmolested.

But Monday, the statue was pulled to the ground, kicked and spat on. The scene resembled the felling of Saddam Hussein statues after the liberation of Iraq — with one difference. Our Civil War ended more than 150 years ago.

Goodwin concludes his commentary with a somber question: “Have our divisions become so deep that the only way to settle them is with another Civil War?”

“You are changing history”

In a press conference on Monday, August 14th, President Trump rhetorically asked where it would all end:

“George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said. “Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me — are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Good. Are we going to take down the statue? ’Cause he was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It’s fine. You are changing history; you’re changing culture.” (Quoted from No, President Trump, Washington’s slaves and Lee’s treason are not the same things, by Scott Martelle, Los Angeles Times August 16, 2017.)

However, many journalists have forcefully rejected the President’s “slippery slope” argument. In an article on Vox titled, The huge problem with comparing Lee and Davis to Washington and Jefferson (August 16, 2017), Matthew Yglesias argues that whereas the Founding Fathers at least did something that Americans can be proud of, the Confederates didn’t. There were no good parts to the Confederacy, so we shouldn’t commemorate it:

It would obviously be unreasonable to expect every celebrated historical figure to be without any kind of significant blemish. But the case against Confederate statuary is setting a much lower bar. It demands only that a celebrated historical figure have done something worth celebrating. Washington, Jefferson, and other mainstream American historical figures all clearly meet that test. Lee and Davis clearly flunk it.

A Los Angeles Times editorial (August 15, 2017) was even more scathing in its criticism of President Trump’s comments:

Washington was a slaveholder, to be sure, but that’s not what statues of him celebrate; they recognize him as the nation’s first president, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Lee, by contrast, left the U.S. Army to lead a rebel force that sought to dismantle the nation in a misguided and unsuccessful attempt to defend the slave system.

At first sight, the distinction these authors are making looks clear-cut, but on closer inspection, it loses its force. What do you say about President Andrew Jackson? While Jackson’s victory over British forces in the Battle of New Orleans is rightly celebrated by Americans, a strong case could be made that his bad deeds overshadow his good ones. The man not only made his fortune from slavery but also treated his slaves with extreme cruelty, even offering a public reward of “$10 for every 100 lashes a person will give” to an escaped slave of his, should they succeed in recapturing the slave. And it was Jackson who was responsible for the passing of the Indian Removal Act, which uprooted 46,000 Indians from five tribes and rounded them into concentration camps where many people starved to death, women were gang-raped, and some children were even forced to stand naked in the freezing cold. The survivors of these appalling brutalities were then forced to march west, in the infamous Trail of Tears. Twenty-five per cent didn’t make it.

In recent months, a group called Take ‘Em Down NOLA has campaigned to have Andrew Jackson’s statue removed from Jackson Square in New Orleans. Are they right? If not, why not? And if they are right, will statues of Jefferson be safe, 20 years from now, when he is already being described in a newspaper article as “a horrible man who owned 600 human beings, raped them, and literally worked them to death”? The author comments: “He should not have statues, or be on money, or even have a monument celebrating his positive contributions.”

Warts and all

Writing for American Thinker, R. B. Parrish remarks that he used not to care whether the Confederate memorials remained or were removed, but has changed his mind. A nation’s history is like a family album, and Americans cannot remove the photos of forebears who did things which we are now ashamed of without doing violence to their own history:

The Confederate statues are a remembrance of a part of our family saga. There were men who fought out of a sense of duty and who showed courage and others who did not. The same was true of the Union soldiers. The war, as wars generally do, brought out both greatness and venality. But we are the inheritors of both stories, and both the good and the bad. It is hoped we may learn something from it all, but with humility, we need to remember that we are no better or worse than those who came before us. We cannot claim that the past did not happen. Or that the pirate on the far limb of our family tree isn’t related to us.

All the pictures in our family album belong there, and it is deceitful for those who come after us if we pluck out some and leave only blank spaces in their place. We all sit at the same table.

If we are not to become black and white and Pole and Cossack and Greek again, then we must accept the common inheritance of our past. Removing statues from pedestals, crossing names out of textbooks (examine current schoolbooks on U.S. history, and you will discover how much has been omitted), denying the past, and magnifying errors will only ensure that we never gather together again as one.

Too many statues?

Some readers may grant the force of this argument, but reasonably ask whether Americans need to keep 700-odd Confederate statues around the country – especially when most of these monuments were built during the Jim Crow era and in response to the civil rights movement. Is 700 too many? Wouldn’t 70 be enough?

Should America simply relocate its Confederate statues?

Another option is to relocate the statues to a safe place where they can be kept. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has endorsed this option, calling for governing authorities in his state to remove Confederate statues, following the violence in Charlottesville, Va. “The recent events in Charlottesville demonstrate that monuments celebrating the leadership of the Confederacy have become flashpoints for hatred, division, and violence,” McAuliffe said. “Monuments should serve as unifiers, to inspire us collectively and venerate our greatest citizens.” He added: “I encourage Virginia’s localities and the General Assembly – which are vested with the legal authority – to take down these monuments and relocate them to museums or more appropriate settings.”

I should note, however, that if the museums in question are public museums, paid for by the taxpayer, then some citizens may well ask why these statues are being displayed in a public space, and acts of vandalism are likely to follow.

Or keep and critique?

Finally, in another article over at American Thinker, Bert Peterson has a different take. In an article titled, A way to bridge the divide over Robert E. Lee (August 16, 2017), he suggests keeping the statues, but attaching a plaque acknowledging the faults of the figures they honor, but explaining why these statues are still allowed to stand:

In this writer’s opinion, there is a better solution. Keep the statue. But with it, also include a plaque of Lee’s letter that appears above along with some comment – coming from the black community – as to why, notwithstanding the understandable offense to black Americans, the statue is still retained. “With malice toward none, and charity toward all,” let us strive to heal our divisions.

That strikes me as sensible, although the question that occurs to me is: who would be in charge of writing all these plaques?

A Plea for Civility

When I visited the United States in 1994-95, I was struck by how passionately its citizens believed in free speech. Here was a country that really lived out Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s aphorism, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (a remark falsely ascribed to Voltaire, though he may have said something similar).

In the past few years, however, there have been calls for the American government to clamp down on “hate speech,” and in recent days, even Piers Morgan, a commentator not known for his left-wing views, has tweeted that speech glorifying Nazism is unworthy of protection under America’s free speech laws. Charles Cooke explains why Morgan’s views are misguided, in an excellent article in National Review (There’s No ‘Nazi’ Exception to the First Amendment, August 16, 2017):

Under the doctrine laid out by a unanimous Supreme Court in the seminal Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, incitement to imminent lawless action may in some circumstances be prosecuted. But this rule is universal and narrow, and, crucially, is in no way akin to the sort of “hate speech” exceptions that obtain in every other country, and that so many Americans seem to believe exist here too. Under U.S. law it is legal for a speaker to say broadly that “all the Jews should be killed” or that “it is time for a revolution,” or that “slavery is good,” and it is not legal for a speaker to say to a crowd, “let’s all go and kill that guy wearing the yarmulke,” or “meet me in an hour at the armory and we’ll start our insurrection at the Post Office,” or “look at that black guy over there in the blue t-shirt, let’s chain him to my car.” Who is saying these things, however, does not matter in the slightest. Whether one likes it or not, Brandenburg applies as much to neo-Nazis as to the Amish, as consistently to Old Testament preachers as to gay rights activists, and as broadly to my mother as to David Duke. It applies in exactly the same way to good people, to bad people, and to those in between.

Over at Why Evolution Is True, Professor Jerry Coyne has also weighed in, with a post titled, Should there be Nazi or white supremacist speech bans? No! (August 15, 2017). As Coyne points out, “if you say that pro-Nazi speech or Holocaust denialism should be banned because it will lead to a revival of Nazi Germany, that’s simply not a credible view since the threat isn’t even remotely there, and, more important, what stifles the threat is free speech against Nazi speech.” Coyne’s post includes some telling quotes from a recent essay written by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept, which defends the ACLU for upholding the free speech rights of neo-Nazis, while criticizing President Trump for his proposals to outlaw flag-burning. Coyne concludes with a video of a rousing speech by the late Christopher Hitchens, given at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Debating Club in November 2006, which I think is well worth watching:

A transcript of the speech can be found here.

So, what do you think America should do with its Confederate statues? Over to you.

UPDATE (h/t Rod Dreher at The American Conservative):

An African American CNN commentator, Angela Rye, said this on the air (starts at 4:30):

“The heart of the problem is the way many of us were taught American history. American history is not all glorious. I love [CNN analyst] John [Avalon] to death, I couldn’t disagree more about George Washington. George Washington was a slave owner. We need to call slave owners out for what they are. Whether we think they were protecting American freedom or not. He wasn’t protecting my freedom. I wasn’t someone – my ancestors weren’t deemed human beings to him. To me, I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or a Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue, they all need to come down… I’m calling out white supremacy for what it is. And sometimes, what it is, John, are blind spots. Sometimes what it is, is not acknowledging this country was built upon a very violent past that resulted in the death and the raping and the killing of my ancestors. I’m not going to allow us to say it’s okay for Robert E. Lee but not a George Washington. We need to call it what it is.”

81 thoughts on “Save them, smash them, relocate them or critique them?”

  1. dazzdazz

    J-Mac: I hope so…but the country, while modernized and with new outlook , still struggles with high unemployment especially among the young, and corruption…This kind of environment could be conducive to radical political changes…Look what happened in the US…

    True that, time will tell

  2. J-MacJ-Mac

    dazz,

    You made me relive some of the most memorable moments of my life…;-)

    I didn’t mean to be stereotypical…In every country there are exceptions to the rules…including Spain… For the most part, I have great memories of my time living in Spain…It’s a beautiful country with many passionate people…including their passion for football and social life…fiestas etc…I’m planning to visit next year…

    BTW: I don’t care about politics…It’s pointless getting emotionally involved in something we have little or no control over…

    ¿Cuántos años tienes?

  3. J-MacJ-Mac

    except for moriscos, blacks and polacos?

    Moriscos got expelled by 1614 by the Catholic influence motivated by religious jealousy and suspicions of treason…

    Blacks are generally accepted by the majority, unless they play for the opposite football team and well 😉 No bananas will ever be thrown at any football player in Spain suspected of being black…

    Still don’t know why Catalans are called Polacos ??? lol Something to do with Napoleon…He wasn’t Polish…so…

  4. Tom EnglishTom English

    Regarding the VICE News documentary, I have to say that the journalist, Elle Reeve, did a phenomenal job. I haven’t a clue what awards she’s eligible for, but she’s deserves a Pulitzer prize. It’s downright inspirational to see a journalist turn in this sort of performance in covering the alt-right.

  5. newton

    Mung: Bullshit. Utter Bullshit. They are monuments. They are inanimate. They don’t motivate anything.

    They are supposed to motivate an emotional response towards those in fought in the war of sedition.

  6. J-MacJ-Mac

    Dazz,

    We were just talking about how modern and improved Spain is and look what happened in Barcelona and Cambrils…No place in the world is safe anymore..

    I’m sorry Dazz…

  7. newton

    vjtorley:
    I wasn’t suggesting that Trump is altruistic. I was suggesting that he’s being prudent. Racism is a potent force, and it takes but a tiny spark to set the flames of hatred burning.

    And I think in Trump’s view hatred and fear of the other is the engine of his movement. He was schooled by an architect of McCarthyism.

    I don’t think America will see a reply of the Civil War, but there’s a good chance it’ll see a replay of the protests of 1968 (see also here) next year.

    Different time,

    Trump may have thought that fibbing – and he must know it’s a fib – about some of the rioters protesting quietly (which they obviously didn’t) would mollify the alt-right and reduce the likelihood of a race war.

    I think you are confused about this,the lie was not directed at the alt right who use violence as a feature, it was to provide cover for all the supporters who need to distance themselves the violence. The alt right is a useful tool for Republican Party of Trump just as Trump is a useful tool for the alt right.

    You suggest that Trump is attacking Antifa in order to feed his base with anger and resentment, in order to motivate them to vote. I doubt it, because if that’s his aim, it’s obviously backfiring.

    Is it?
    Kasich the voice of moderation “There is a bitterness setting in that may not be able to be removed…He’s got to fix this and republicans have got to speak out, plain and simple. Who cares what party you’re in?”

    Matt: “Would you be willing to be the guy who goes around to republican leaders and say that ‘this is our moment, we will tell our president we no longer support him, period.”

    Kasich . “Well Matt, look, he’s our president, okay?…He’s our president, but he needs to correct what he has said…”

    He still has the support of the Party which means so far the don’t view him as a enough of liability to the brand. 67% of Republicans support his stance.

    He has the support of his media base.

    His words seem to have made Antifa stronger, now that they’ve gained public respect. If Trump wants to win in 2020, he’d better drop the alt-right like a hot potato, or it’ll be a millstone around his neck. In fact, I wouldn’t give him that long, with all the talk of an impending market crash.

    In another time, maybe. 2020 is irrelevant, the election in 2018 is what matters. Unless the Republicans suffer a significant defeat, he will have the support of the party.

  8. newton

    Warts and all

    Writing for American Thinker, R. B. Parrish remarks that he used not to care whether the Confederate memorials remained or were removed, but has changed his mind. A nation’s history is like a family album, and Americans cannot remove the photos of forebears who did things which we are now ashamed of without doing violence to their own history

    The State of Texas has no qualms about doing violence to the historical record and neither do the supporters of the war of sedition. What they object to is doing violence to their version of history of the noble cause of the Civil War.

    Osama bin Laden is an integral part of American history, if statues are a representation of the history …

  9. newton

    Too many statues?

    Some readers may grant the force of this argument, but reasonably ask whether Americans need to keep 700-odd Confederate statues around the country – especially when most of these monuments were built during the Jim Crow era and in response to the civil rights movement. Is 700 too many? Wouldn’t 70 be enough?

    If you want to put up a statue on your property knock yourself out, statues on public property are subject to the public’s approval. If they approve it stays disapprove it goes. The number is what it is.

  10. DNA_Jock

    At first sight, the distinction these authors are making [between Lee (and Davis, perhaps) on the one hand, and Washington and Jefferson on the other] looks clear-cut, but on closer inspection, it loses its force. What do you say about President Andrew Jackson?

    Andrew Jackson was an effing piece of work. There, I said it.
    But the “distinction” doesn’t “lose its force”, just because there’s a continuum in between.
    Churchill ordered the fire-bombing of Hamburg and the destruction of Dresden, so we should get rid of Churchill Statues? Nelson was an adulterer? This is the ‘slippery slope’ that concerns you?

    And the “we need these public displays, lest we forget” argument doesn’t hold water. Germany manages without statues of Hitler, or Rommel, or Guderian.
    With any public display, the question must be “What are we honoring? What is the intent?”

    Kantian Naturalist: The majority of statues of Confederate icons were erected during the Jim Crow era and, later, in rejection of the Civil Rights movement. They have no place in a decent society and all of them should be taken down and destroyed. One should not idolize one’s history or tradition if that history or tradition are grounded in moral travesties. Just ask the Germans.

    ^^This^^
    The Durham statue was erected in 1924 (the same year as the Charlottesville statue. Curious, that) in front of the courthouse, rather than in a cemetery.
    Sooo, Confederate statues in Confederate Cemeteries, okay in my book: by and large, those statues were erected immediately following the Civil War, to commemorate the dead. Statues erected in public squares during Jim Crow – remove them.
    And regarding the ethics of illegally removing statues: thanks to the events of last weekend, there’s a utilitarian argument to be made…

  11. vjtorley Post author

    Hi everyone,

    This just in (h/t Rod Dreher at The Imaginative Conservative).

    An African American CNN commentator, Angela Rye, said this on the air (starts at 4:27):

    “The heart of the problem is the way many of us were taught American history. American history is not all glorious. I love [CNN analyst] John [Avalon] to death, I couldn’t disagree more about George Washington. George Washington was a slave owner. We need to call slave owners out for what they are. Whether we think they were protecting American freedom or not. He wasn’t protecting my freedom. I wasn’t someone – my ancestors weren’t deemed human beings to him. To me, I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or a Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue, they all need to come down… I’m calling out white supremacy for what it is. And sometimes, what it is, John, are blind spots. Sometimes what it is, is not acknowledging this country was built upon a very violent past that resulted in the death and the raping and the killing of my ancestors. I’m not going to allow us to say it’s okay for Robert E. Lee but not a George Washington. We need to call it what it is.”

    Here are some interesting stats from Rod Dreher. These are the results of a new NPR/PBS Marist poll:

    * A strong majority (62 percent) of Americans favor leaving the Confederate statues standing as historical markers.

    * Overwhelming numbers of Republicans (86 percent) favor this, as do 61 percent of Independents.

    * The only group with a majority favoring removal (57 percent) are “Strong Democrats” — as opposed to “Soft Democrats,” who slightly favor keeping them (52 percent).

    * When defined by political ideology, only Liberal/Very Liberal people muster a majority for taking statues down (57 percent). Among self-described Moderates, 67 percent favor leaving the statues standing. A whopping 81 percent of Conservative/Very Conservative people favor the statues staying in place.

    * Here’s a stunner: 44 percent of African-Americans polled believe in keeping the statues standing. Of Latinos, 65 percent believe the statues should remain.

    The same poll also revealed that 96% of Americans oppose the Ku Klux Klan, 90% oppose the white supremacy movement, 77% oppose white nationalists, and 48% oppose the alt-right (with 6% supporting them).

    Dreher comments:

    3. Continuing to attack Confederate statues is a big loser for Democrats and liberals. A strong majority of Americans favors keeping them standing. Only liberals want to see them go. When even 44 percent of African-Americans favor leaving the statues alone, the take-them-down faction of the Left has a serious echo chamber problem.

    4. This is likely to cause them to seriously overreach. If Democrats and liberals only pay attention to the media and to each other on the statue debate, they are going to alienate a lot of people. The hostile media environment has made it very difficult for anybody to speak up for keeping the statues, even though that is a majority opinion in America. So people will keep that opinion to themselves.

    5. In turn, they may very well stew on it, angry at the liberal gatekeepers of respectable opinion either not caring about their opinion, or shutting them down as racists.

    6. Do not underestimate the power of cultural symbols to drive voter behavior.

    7. Americans have no trouble condemning white supremacists and the far right, while at the same time supporting the statues. Americans probably do not believe they are racist for wanting the statues to remain in place.

    What do readers think?

  12. vjtorley Post author

    Hi DNA_Jock:

    And the “we need these public displays, lest we forget” argument doesn’t hold water. Germany manages without statues of Hitler, or Rommel, or Guderian.

    I’ve been to Auschwitz and Birkenau. I have to say that equating Robert E. Lee to Adolf Hitler is silly.

    Andrew Jackson was an effing piece of work. There, I said it.
    But the “distinction” doesn’t “lose its force”, just because there’s a continuum in between.

    Continuum? I’m not at all sure that Andrew Jackson is any more deserving of a statue than Robert E. Lee. Did Lee kill thousands of innocent people by rounding them up into concentration camps and letting many of them freeze or starve?

    Sooo, Confederate statues in Confederate Cemeteries, okay in my book: by and large, those statues were erected immediately following the Civil War, to commemorate the dead. Statues erected in public squares during Jim Crow – remove them.

    I think this suggestion has merit. Another alternative might be to relocate the Jim Crow statues to Confederate cemeteries.

  13. Neil Rickert

    vjtorley: What do readers think?

    Personally, I don’t care one way or the other about statues.

    However: some of the statues were erected as a political statement. And I do care about political statements.

    The demonstration in Charlottesville was intended as a political statement.

    The white supremacists who demonstrated are disgusting.
    Donald J. Trump is disgusting.
    People who make political arguments under the pretense of historical preservation are disgusting.

  14. dazzdazz

    J-Mac:
    Dazz,

    We were just talking about how modern and improved Spain is and look what happened in Barcelona and Cambrils…No place in the world is safe anymore..

    I’m sorry Dazz…

    Thank you very much, like many other terrorists before, those kids were supposed to be well integrated in their communities. what the hell is going on?
    it’s devastating, not only because it happened in Spain, but because somehow they manage to pull the same attacks over and over again and it looks like there’s not much anybody can do

  15. J-MacJ-Mac

    dazz,

    It’s such as sad day for humanity…

    I don’t think you and I can do anything to stop this pure evil…unfortunately…
    One thing we can do though is stand united in not allowing these people to intimidate us as people and nations because that is exactly what they hope for…
    These people are very disturbed and obviously confused about what they do and why…
    I can’t find the right words to describe how I feel…I’m sorry

  16. vjtorley Post author

    Hi everyone,

    Here’s something else to think about. Robert E. Lee opposed statues honoring the Confederate war dead, according to Daniel Brown, writing for Business Insider (courtesy of Yahoo News):

    Debates about the removal of Confederate statues have been ongoing for years, and opponents of removing the monuments often decry such proposals as an attempt to erase history.

    However, “it’s often forgotten that Lee himself, after the Civil War, opposed monuments, specifically Confederate war monuments,” Jonathan Horn, a Lee biographer, told PBS.

    After the Civil War, Lee received several letters requesting support for the erection of Confederate memorials, according to Horn.

    In June 1866, he wrote that a monument of one of his best generals, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, wasn’t “feasible at this time.”

    In December of that year, he wrote of another proposed Confederate monument: “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that, however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt, in the present condition of the country, would have the effect of retarding instead of accelerating its accomplishment, and of continuing if not adding to the difficulties under which the Southern people labor.”

    Not only did Lee oppose Confederate monuments, “he favored erasing battlefields from the landscape altogether,” Horn wrote.

    He even supported getting rid of the Confederate flag after the Civil War ended. He didn’t want it flying above Washington College, of which he was president after the war.

    So, should we dismantle statues of Lee across the country?

    While Lee might not have wanted them, the fact is that they don’t belong to him, and never did. As newton wrote above, “statues on public property are subject to the public’s approval.” The question we really need to ask is what they mean to people living now. The fact that many of them may have originally been erected as monuments to racism 50 or 90 years ago doesn’t necessarily mean that they have that significance now. The people have to decide what they mean and what they want to do with them.

  17. DNA_Jock

    vjtorley: Hi DNA_Jock:

    And the “we need these public displays, lest we forget” argument doesn’t hold water. Germany manages without statues of Hitler, or Rommel, or Guderian.
    I’ve been to Auschwitz and Birkenau. I have to say that equating Robert E. Lee to Adolf Hitler is silly.

    Correct. Robert E. Lee gets equated with Rommel, or Guderian. I actually think Guderian is a better analogy.

    Andrew Jackson was an effing piece of work. There, I said it.
    But the “distinction” doesn’t “lose its force”, just because there’s a continuum in between.

    Continuum? I’m not at all sure that Andrew Jackson is any more deserving of a statue than Robert E. Lee. Did Lee kill thousands of innocent people by rounding them up into concentration camps and letting many of them freeze or starve?

    I personally think Andrew Jackson is LESS deserving than Lee. But with the statuary, it’s the message and the intent that matters more than the “but he beat puppies” aspect.

    Sooo, Confederate statues in Confederate Cemeteries, okay in my book: by and large, those statues were erected immediately following the Civil War, to commemorate the dead. Statues erected in public squares during Jim Crow – remove them.

    I think this suggestion has merit. Another alternative might be to relocate the Jim Crow statues to Confederate cemeteries.

    Potentially.
    I think that when a town has decided to remove a statue, then that is their right. Blocking them, whether by statewide reactionary legislation, or by violent torch-lit “Jews will not replace us!” parades, is wrong.

  18. newton

    vjtorley:
    Continuum? I’m not at all sure that Andrew Jackson is any more deserving of a statue than Robert E. Lee. Did Lee kill thousands of innocent people by rounding them up into concentration camps and letting many of them freeze or starve?

    Anderson Prison comes to mind

  19. MungMung

    So watching that short video clip in the OP, I noticed how most of the people involved appeared to be white.

  20. stcordova

    From a practical standpoint, a lot of the statues are now being vandalized by BLM activists with graffiti. No way law enforcement can be around to prevent this. The statues are done for. So, much of this discussion could be moot.

  21. RoyLT

    dazz: So when I first met him I simply asked him if he was of Guinean origin, and he was. No one would think of that as being racist if he or she looked scandinavian so…

    In my experience, there are many exceptions. I once asked a person with a distinctive Imperial if they were Australian. They were from Hereford, England and appeared to be very offended by my mistake.

    Setting aside my deplorable lack of culture, I just think that focusing on a person’s heritage without them volunteering it first is a type of subtle (if completely unintentional) racism. When I ask someone who looks Asian what country their family comes from, it seems to suggest that they are somehow less American than I am since my family managed to immigrate here a few generations earlier than theirs. Most of my relatives and childhood friends don’t even notice that they do it, but it seems to me to be a very subtle form of group exclusion.

  22. dazzdazz

    RoyLT: I once asked a person with a distinctive Imperial if they were Australian. They were from Hereford, England and appeared to be very offended by my mistake.

    Seems to me that’s their fault, not yours.

  23. newton

    stcordova: It’s not just the statues of Robert E. Lee that are subject to sanctions, now an Asian reporter named Robert Lee!

    Is he being penalized?

  24. DNA_Jock

    newton: Is he being penalized?

    Obviously not. Being switched from covering UVA football to pretty much any other game is a step up.
    And that is why the whole “guys in ties and girls in pearls” tradition exists. They know their football team is terrible.
    If he were switched away from covering UVA basketball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, or baseball, that would be a demotion.

  25. waltowalto

    Just dropped in to mention how sorry we all should be not to have Patrick around anymore to defend Trump and remind people how much worse Hillary Clinton would have been.

  26. newton

    walto:
    Just dropped in to mention how sorry we all should be not to have Patrick around anymore to defend Trump and remind people how much worse Hillary Clinton would have been.

    Patrick who?

  27. phoodoo

    walto,

    Well, we still have Sal.

    He has an amazing tax plan. What you do is, you give money, or don’t give money wherever you want. Then you just buy lots of guns, build a concrete house, filled with canned soup, and tell you kids they can’t go outside anymore.

    Brilliant.

  28. waltowalto

    It’s the best tax plan. Everybody thinks it’s incredible. More people have praised it than have ever praised anything before. Record-breaking praise.

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