Should the Confederate Monuments Stay or Go?

It’s been more than two weeks since white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to march against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue and chant racist slogans.

Social media captured the ensuing chaos and violence in real-time: a white nationalist terrorist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one woman and injuring many others, and two state police officers died in a helicopter crash.

Since then, heated debates have arisen over free speech (and “hate speech”) and the growing problem of political violence. But the most contentious debate has involved the question whether to keep or raze historical monuments to the Confederacy.

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy, more than twenty monuments were removed from college and public grounds, with many others pending removal.

In North Carolina, Duke University president Vincent E. Price had a statue of Robert E. Lee removed from Duke Chapel. Another Confederate statue in Durham was toppled over by a group of protesters; after a NC Central University student was arrested for vandalism, some of her professors praised her and suggested awarding her a scholarship.

And last Tuesday, nearly 800 protestors gathered around UNC-Chapel Hill’s “Silent Sam” monument, which was erected over a hundred years ago in honor of students who fought in the Confederacy. Three people were arrested during the protest.

Clearly, there is a widespread sense of urgency surrounding the removal of these monuments. What is not clear, however, is whether this rush to take down statues is motivated by reasonable arguments or charged emotions.

For many, the primary argument for taking down the statues is that they celebrate the Confederacy and, therefore, celebrate the slavery and racism it stood for.

For instance, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a recent statement, “[We] cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.”

However, many are concerned that this rationale will eventually justify the removal of other monuments, such as those of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who both owned slaves and saw black people as inferior.

Some have responded by arguing that there is a clear distinction between memorials honoring Confederate soldiers, who actively fought to defend slavery, and those like Washington and Jefferson, who owned slaves.

For instance, in a recent article on the Public Discourse, Matthew J. Franck, a visiting lecturer in politics at Princeton University, contrasts Confederate general Robert E. Lee with figures like Thomas Jefferson, arguing that there is a clear moral distinction.

Franck says that Lee’s mission was centered on upholding human bondage, whereas Jefferson’s mission was the advancement of human freedom. This is demonstrated in Jefferson’s authorship of the Declaration of Independence, as well as his personal disapproval of slavery, despite the fact that he was a slaveholder.

But some say the history is not as simple as Franck suggests, arguing that Lee felt compelled to fight for the Confederacy because he could not bring himself to take up arms against Virginia, his home state. Still others point out that Lee saw slavery as “a moral and political evil.”

Whether or not one finds this response compelling, the point is that judging the complexities of Lee’s character involves delicate historical analysis. One cannot assume that all monuments associated with the Confederacy must be torn down without looking closely at the individuals they depict; case-by-case analysis is necessary.

But all of these distinctions seem to be lost in the frenzy to tear down these statues. In fact, many protestors now are demanding the removal of statues not only based on whether they are associated with slavery, but also on whether they “glorify” racism.

This has become evident in recent vandalism of non-Confederate statues. For example, a bust of Lincoln was found burned in Chicago. Also, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was spray-painted with obscenities.

Other recently vandalized monuments include a statue of Joan of Arc in New Orleans, a 200-year-old Christopher Columbus monument in Baltimore, and a statue of Spanish priest Junipero Serra in California.

Also, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, may decide to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from Manhattan’s Columbus Circle. All of these figures obviously have nothing to do with the cause of the Confederacy.

At any rate, those who want Confederate statues removed can indeed make a strong argument that many monuments were erected during the Jim Crow era in order to send an intimidating message to black people.

A 2016 Atlantic article provides some historical context:

A timeline of the genesis of the Confederate sites shows two notable spikes. One comes around the turn of the 20th century, just after Plessy v. Ferguson, and just as many Southern states were establishing repressive race laws. The second runs from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s—the peak of the civil-rights movement. In other words, the erection of Confederate monuments has been a way to perform cultural resistance to black equality.

Consider, for instance, UNC Chapel Hill’s “Silent Sam” monument, which was dedicated in 1913. During the dedication speech, Confederate veteran Julian Carr boasted about how he publicly whipped a black woman. He also emphasized that the Confederacy fought for the cause of preserving the “Anglo-Saxon” race.

But even with the monument’s dark history, there is still room for caution. After all, some argue that it is precisely because it was put up during such a tumultuous time that it holds unique historical value.

According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist University poll, 86 percent of Americans “disagree with the white supremacy movement” and 94 percent “disagree with the views of the KKK.” And yet, 62 percent think that the Confederate statues should remain in place “as historical symbols.”

So far, however, these considerations have been ignored. The debate has primarily been resolved by outbursts of vandalism and lawlessness. And last Monday, Governor Roy Cooper gave express permission to UNC-Chapel Hill officials to immediately remove the Silent Sam statue, without first consulting with the UNC system’s Board of Governors and despite current laws that explicitly prohibit this.

These decisions ought to be determined more democratically and reflect broad consensus—not just that of loud protestors. And going forward, university and public officials should take more time to consider the implications of removing Confederate monuments.

Based on the fuzzy logic of protestors, it is unclear how removing statues of Robert E. Lee will not also lead to the removal of statues of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and others. After all, they have ties to slavery and are equally morally complex.

Unfortunately, that sentiment has become popular in recent weeks. As Angela Rye, a prominent CNN commentator, said, “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.”

Let’s hope that, in the coming days and weeks, higher education leaders and public officials approach these issues with more deliberation.

  • DrOfnothing

    Unfortunately, this article ignores one of the most essential considerations about the statues that commemorate Confederate generals and distinguish them from other figures. Unlike Washington, Jefferson, etc., Robert E. Lee led an army in open rebellion against the lawfully elected, democratic government of the United States. The result was the bloodiest war in American history–bet, 880k-1m casualties (620k-750k military history). It is for this reason that many of the historians I knew in Virginia referred to Richmond’s Monument Avenue (with statues of Lee and Jackson and a memorial to Jefferson Davis), as the “Avenue of Traitors.”

    As an historian, I strongly support the preservation of the historical record and see engagement with the past, in all its aspects, as a vital task. But I see no compelling reason to celebrate symbols of segregation or to honour those complicit in the deaths of nearly 1m of their fellow Americans. Cholera, too, was an important part of American history, but I don’t think we need large-than-life statues of it adorning our public thoroughfares.

    • bdavi52

      My friend, that is exactly why we need such commemoration….because they represent — as public icon & symbol — the sacrifice of almost 1M Americans to maintain the sanctity of this nation and our Constitution.

      Equally should the French appreciate the Arc de Triomphe as public icon & symbol despite the fact that it was built to commemorate those who perpetrated the Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic Wars of Aggression & Conquest.

      History, as you well know, contains everything. And everything means both good & bad, right & wrong, despicable and honorable, reprehensible & sacred. History should be preserved not just in dusty corners of empty museums (and Indiana Jones-like warehouses of reliquaries) but rather everywhere for everyone. We should see it, touch it, feel it in our daily lives — and begin to recognize that were it not for that (whatever thing we see there) the world would not be as it is today (for good or bad)…we would not be as we are today (for good or bad). And that is an excellent lesson to learn (though much harder to truly appreciate).

      • Mike

        There are a distinct lack of statues of 1940s era German leaders throughout Europe, despite there being plenty of “remember the bad” -themed museums around. We also pulled down a whole bunch of King George statues during and after the revolution, because we didn’t want to be reminded of being his subjects.

        Most of the confederate statues were put up as a direct, racist response to the Civil Rights Act (citation in the article). Now they’re sacred history that we need to gaze upon always? That sounds an awful lot like what the racists who erected the statues wanted when they put them up — to remind black people of their place in this country.

        • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

          Are you talking about Holocaust Museums? Death camps and concentration camps that are preserved and open to the public? Yes, there are “plenty …. around.” The overwhelming moral response against genocide makes occupying a public space with Nazi leaders impossible.

          Still, Nazi racial apocalyptic thinking lives on, in conspiracy theories, neo-Nazism, and in other cultural identity groups. Radical Islam seems to have incorporated these ideas, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in order to fashion an ideological foundation for groups like ISIS.

          The comparison does not end there — anti-racists that want to tear down or destroy monuments are behaving just like ISIS, attempting to obliterate a past they cannot tolerate.

          • DrOfnothing

            Glen, you’ve gone a bit too far with this comparison. Anti-racists are not calling for the obliteration of the past, not by a long shot. We’re talking about a few dozen statues, and those largely of Civil War generals in _very_ conspicuous public spaces. These are hardly centuries-old statues of the Buddha. No one is calling for bulldozing the battlefield sites, burning the paintings and history books, or forbidding discussion of historical events. Comparing those who don’t want to be slapped in the face on their daily drive to work by a statue of someone who helped cause the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans in the name of slavery to ISIS is both inaccurate and unfair.

          • Mike

            You completely made my point. There are plenty of museums and death camps open _AS MUSEUMS_, but there are no statues glorifying the leaders. _That’s the entire point._ I’m not opposed to museums depicting slavery and Jim Crow laws. I’m opposed to statues of people that fought to protect slavery put up in publicly glorified spaces (in front of courthouses, city halls, college squares, etc), that were put there specifically to send a message to black people that they would always be second class. Again, citation for that last part _in the article_.

        • bdavi52

          Then you don’t understand or appreciate the meaning of Symbols….and how those meanings inevitably change over time as they are viewed by different audiences.

          Surely you recognize that we each can see & find different meanings in exactly the same thing, be it a book, a statue, a piece of art, a poem, whatever? Surely you see, in the cultural world which surrounds us, thousands upon thousands of references, touchstones, memorials NOT just to the realities which brought us to today but the myths with which we surround those realities?

          As silly as the example is, consider the Dukes of Hazzard (or Johnny Yuma or Rhett Butler….if your memory is long enough). Do you consider the Duke boys racists? Do you think they covered the General Lee with the Stars & Bars because they advocated Slavery or secession from the United States? Or do you recognize what their multi-million audience recognized — that the Duke Boys, those Good Ole Boys, stood for nothing but ‘doing the right thing’, having a ‘good time’, and being honorable & brave & true (and funny, or so I’m told).

          The ‘why’ behind the erection of a Confederate statue is of little interest (save to the historian)….just as the ‘why’ of the Arc de Triomphe….or the Louis XIV statue at Versailles (or Versailles itself)….or the Aztec Pyramids is at best only marginally pertinent as we enjoy them today. (Though I do think a strong argument can be made that “reminding Black people of their place” was not a driving factor in the memorialization.) What matters, today, is how we see them today. And just as we grant you (or anyone) the right to see a bronze Lee as a symbol of hatred or racism, surely you can grant to others the right to see them as symbols of bravery and sacrifice?

  • bdavi52

    Of course they should stay. They are a part of us; we, a part of them. The Civil War tore this nation apart and, through the sacrifice of those 1.6M men, put it back together again. Those statues, those monuments, those parks, & bronzed memorials recognize all that; they make it real; make it apparent, bring it forth unto today. Their power is revealed even 150 years after the fact, in the emotion they arouse (positively and negatively), in the engagement they provoke.

    Yes they honor Americans who rebelled against the flag they pledged to uphold & defend….yes they can be seen as symbols of hatred & discrimination. But equally, as symbol, they can be seen as emblematic of courage and sacrifice, of determination, and honor. Equally they can be seen, are seen, as representative of Lost Causes (both real & mythical). They stand as silent witness to the sacred dead.

    They live among us and tell us that we are what we are today because of them; because of the decision those men made; because of the actions those men took; because of the blood those men caused to be shed. Of course our monuments should remain. And we should be mature enough in our understanding of history and symbol and the role that public art plays in public discourse to recognize the multi-layered nature they possess and they impact that they have (and should have) on American culture.

    • DrOfnothing

      This would be a fair point if the monuments had been erected immediately after the Civil War. But they weren’t–the figures depicted are tangential to their original historical narrative. As the article makes clear, they were erected to reaffirm segregation under Jim Crow or to protest desegregation during the Civil Rights Movement. This is why the Civil War commemorative statues and monuments are minimal in the former Union states and ubiquitous in the former Confederate ones.

      • bdavi52

        In 1938, 2500 Gettysburg veterans reunited on the battlefield. The last Civil War vet died in 1956. The last Civil War widow died in 2003. All these things well past “Jim Crow”. But it doesn’t really matter when the monuments were erected, or why they were erected, or how many widows, sons, and daughters still mourned when that bronze was poured & shaped…the emotional connections (obviously, as we look around us even still today) endure.

        Beyond that though, at this point in time, what we really recognize astride the public square is only minimally a statue of Robert E. Lee…just as the statue of Louis XIV at Versailles is only ‘minimally’ dear Louis. What we see instead is public art as icon and symbol.

        When 30+ years ago we all watched The Dukes of Hazzard drive about in their rebel-striped car, the General Lee, we did not see them as Confederate hold-overs who would torch the North. We did not believe the Dukes were anti-American, pro-slavery racists who would spit on the flag while whipping Black people. We saw them, as the writers & producers wanted us to them, as heroes & rebels & independent stand-up guys who were honorably duty-bound to do the right thing. When we watched Johnny Yuma, we watched a similar independent, brave, do-what’s-right hero. Same with Josie Wales. Same with the brave Colonel Langdon in the Undefeated. Same with Rhett Butler. Same with … the list is endless.

        The point being these public icons live now as symbols. And like all symbols they carry multiple and sometimes conflicting meanings. Yes, some of us see them as symbols of slavery & hatred. But equally true some see them as symbols of courage & honor. And some see them as witness to the sacred dead. And some as a living link to Great Granda Smith who died at Antietam. And some, of course, see them only as that point in the park where the 5K race turns west.

        I would hope that we are mature enough in our understanding of such things to grant each other the right we already possess — to see within those towering bronze monuments whatever it is we choose to see. I would hope that we are mature enough to not ISIS-like insist that everyone see the same things in the same way and think the same totalitarian thought. I would hope we would not reduce the human complexity and tragedy and glory of our past to a collection of truncated bronze stumps.

        But given the raging & exceedingly juvenile intolerance which now consumes us, I hold out little hope.

        • DrOfnothing

          Again, there is a difference between remembrance and celebration, especially when that celebration is of values that were toxic and detestable at the time of the statues’ installation and are even more so now.

          For example, the Vietnam Wall. A more balanced view of that war would point out that 1m Vietnamese were killed, and that they are more deserving of a memorial. Did not they serve with honor? Were they not defending their country against foreign invaders? But even given these considerations, the Wall is a moving and altogether fitting tribute to the US Vietnam war dead. It is a place of quiet contemplation that reflects both the sorrow of the conflict, the sense of loss in so many families, and the pity of war itself.

          There are many memorials to the Civil War that follow the same solemn tradition. And we still preserve many of the battlefield sites, to our credit.

          But the generals’ statues are simply a very different animal. They are not monuments to honor or comemorations of those who died. The timing and locale of their installation is _absolutely essential_ and it is terribly naive to say otherwise. They are the epitome of inaccurate, overly-romanticized, entirely constructed mythology that bears almost no concrete connection to the events themselves beyond the fact that yes, there was a general named Robert E. Lee and yes, he led the Confederate Army. The rest is just a sad fantasy of a society desperately trying to hold back the tide of history and long-overdue democratic reform.

          As for the Dukes of Hazard, it was just a silly TV show. 95% of the people watching it made no connection to the Civil War at all. Intelligent southerners, on the whole, did not appreciate the stereotype of the rebel redneck and the lascivious sister. I did like Flash, though, that was one hell of a dog.

          • bdavi52

            Agree completely. There is, absolutely, a difference between remembrance and celebration.

            But how much celebration have you actually seen? How many crowds of people gleefully commemorating the accomplishment of Lee or Stonewall Jackson? How many massive Confederate Celebration Parties have occurred at the base of those monuments?

            None, I suspect. At least none prior to the current tantrums.

            The point is, of course, that these statues (all statues) stand as historical icons, as symbols, as representations of a multiplicity of perspectives. Yes, I’m sure there are some who see them and raise a celebratory fist and exclaim: “Long live the Confederacy!” But equally I’m sure there are many more who see them and consider — as I said — all those other qualities (honor, duty, sacrifice….the Union… Reconciliation). And equally still another group which sees them and thinks Slavery & Rebellion.

            Let them all live. Let them all stand. Let all these ideas collect & collide….and 200 years hence they will all have evolved to something else, indeed.

            Why & when the statues were shaped…why & when the Arc was erected….why & when the stone altars on the Aztec pyramids were formed to hold the beating hearts of vivisected victims….none of that matters (save as Historians seek to understand that distant past). What matters is what those things, over the centuries, have become, and how we see them now. And what they’ve become, as you noted, has almost no connection to the historical fact.

            And that is why, as silly as the show was, the rebel standard on the General Lee was used — because it has come to mean (well, at least prior to the present to-do) something else entirely. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, this constant evolution and reinterpretation is a very, very good thing (as long as we never lose sight of the truth beneath all the subsequent understandings).

            We have pillboxes which still stand upon the clifftop at Pointe du Hoc. They sit as reminders NOT of France’s submission in the War, not as places to celebrate the German occupation but rather as memorial to the sacrifice of those who died (both attacking & defending)…memorial to the horrors of war and its heroics. So too can we and do we see the silent statues of the Confederate defeated. As symbol they are all of these things and more, representing as they also do the charity & forgiveness extended by Lincoln and the victorious Union when the shooting stopped.

          • DrOfnothing

            Every year, in Richmond, on the national holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, we had to watch jerks in Confederate uniforms march around the statue of Lee. Virginia was so opposed to celebrating an _actual_ American hero that they only acquiesced to making King’s birthday a state holiday (required by federal law) if they could combine it with a day commemorating Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

            So that holiday is now, and I wish this was a joke, Lee/Jackson/King day.

            It’s an utter travesty.

            Believe me, the Confederacy is celebrated all across the South, from rebel flags adorning people’s trucks and lawns to framed battle flags to the ubiquitous marches of soldiers in grey. And it is absolutely about hypocritically mythologizing a “traditional” culture and wilfully denying the ugly history of it–that the south was a place in which, well into the 1950s whites routinely terrorised African-Americans, beat them, raped them, and lynched them.

            The irony is that these symbols are most popular among the same group that was also being economically exploited by wealthy slave-owners like Lee and Jackson–working-class white men. I have never met a group so ignorantly enthusiastic about eulogizing their own oppressors. If they realised how callously these men threw them, by the hundreds of thousands, into meat-grinders like Antietam, Fredricksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, 1st and 2nd Bull Run, etc. they would be the first ones to climb up and pull those statues down, and melt them into something useful. Confederate culture is nothing less than a cancer festering in the soul of the south, and the sooner it is cut out, the better those states, and the whole nation, will be.

            This does not mean forgetting history, by any means. The history of the Civil War and the romanticizing of the Old South through Confederate culture and symbology are two entirely different animals. Most of those flying rebel flags from their car antennas could name a few generals and the major battles, but don’t know thing one about the war, mid-19th c. America, or even which states actually fought. As I said, we need to keep reminding ourselves, again and again, about that bloody internecine conflict and how American fell on one another like hungry wolves. It is simply about not romanticizing it, and not elevating men who were, at best, morally ambiguous figures into symbols of all that is right and good. There are plenty of brave men and women in American history, from Mississippi to Montana, whom we should put on a pedestal, and whose ideals and courage can be admired for generations to come. Lee, Jackson, Sherman, Grant, these men were butchers in a war that should never have happened, that accomplished nothing, that annihilated a generation of promise, that lay waste to vast portions of the landscape, and whose bitter seeds bore bitter fruit that continues to rot and stink to this day. It is not accidental that the neo-Nazis and other white supremacists in Charlottesville were carrying swastikas, rebel flags, and pro-Trump signs cheek to jowl. They all have ignorant racism at their core, and what will future generations say about us if we deny both the history of it then and the ubiquity of it now?

          • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

            Right, everything is a mess now.

            But this is the nature of social and political relations, power relations. They change, they fluctuate. Whatever group is dominant, that group can push its own agenda along. Simple, but true.

            What this demonstrates is competition for attention, for dominance in public spaces, in regard to symbols and emblems and monuments. At one time, the Jim Crow era, certain groups exercised dominance, only to be eclipsed a few short decades (and World Wars) later. And now there is more change, more open competition for dominance of public spaces and publicly displayed symbols and statues.

            But here is where we differ: I, because I found myself in the Bible Belt trying to teach college-level religion classes, spent a few years trying to better understand my students and their perspective. I am from the North, and this made it difficult to teach something as sensitive as religion and the Bible to my fundamentalist students (!) — that is, until I had learned enough about it to at least respect their differences, how they differed from me. The path lead me through the Scottish Common Sense realism that fundamentalists unknowingly rely on (for the most part), which pre-dates the rise of empirical science, also called doxological science.

            And the path also took me through US economic history, especially Richard Williams, Hierarchical Structures and Social Value: The Creation of Black and Irish Identities in the United States (1990), which traces the issues of slavery and identity from West Africa to the Potato Famine. No one disputes the caste system of the South, nor the ideology that agrarian structures brought with it.

            But then I read this, which is shows far less (understanding?) than I would expect from Dr O:
            “Confederate culture is nothing less than a cancer festering in the soul of the south, and the sooner it is cut out, the better those states, and the whole nation, will be.”

            Of course, we do not agree with “Confederate culture” — but we need to better understand it. Maybe this can help — a brilliant institutional dissertation by Richard Glotzer, Higher Education in the American South 1660-1984: Class and Race in Institutional Development (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 1984) 480 pages.

            This research details the rise of higher education in the American South in the context of an evolving pattern of class and race relations, which crystallized into formal segregation by the beginning of the modern period (1915).

          • DrOfnothing

            On “Confederate culture,” let me clarify:

            Understand, yes–it is a cultural/historical phenomenon that has shaped southern life for several generations.

            Adhere to blindly and celebrate–no. It has been a roadblock for democracy, a facilitator of racist mythology, and an obstacle to the economic and social progress of the south for several generations.

            I highly recommend David Roediger’s “The Construction of Difference,” btw. It looks at how early 20th c. management ideology deliberately cultivated racial differences in order to prevent black and white industrial workers from uniting to defend their common economic interests.

          • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

            Thank you for the ref.

            Roediger’s description of the deliberate cultivation of racial differences in century past was also used in the 1800s by the planter aristocracy in order to maintain control of the poor whites. This is discussed in Richard Glotzer.

            I once walked into the Jimmy Carter Museum when his “planter” heritage dawned on me — without it, there would have been no way to elect him in the South!

          • bdavi52

            But that is exactly the point.
            Historical reality is inevitably, like any ancient ruin, covered in the dust, obscured by the fog of memory & desire, myth & fantasy. But still, the whole is a part of us, is inescapable — makes us and our surrounding socio-cultural-political reality what it is.

            And so we have a world chockfull of examples of Confederate misbelief. But that is no different from any other era, any other myth, all other ‘glorifications’. As historian I know you know this already.

            What we believe (what we ‘know’), what we (the 300M of us) see when we look backwards is that ever-receding truth appearing to our myopic gaze to be increasingly magnificent (or increasingly horrible, depending upon the mindset of the myopic viewer). Hollywood, of course, and our cultural storytelling reinforces both views (depending upon which sells more tickets).

            As a nation we learn from both the reality of what came before (serving as it always does to form the Present) and the myths with which we surround that reality. All those millions of rebel flags we see (all the Johnny Yumas, Josie Wales, and Dukes of Hazzard, et al) — even the Civil War Reenactors who march about in their silly suits — are not celebrating the actual Confederacy but the mythological Confederacy. More than that, they are celebrating the virtues they have (we have) thereby attached. They are not thinking about the meat-grinders, the privation, the starvation, the cruelty, the inhumanity, and the rivers of blood. They are thinking about sunlit hills and battlecries and bravery and glory and honor and determination in the face of overwhelming odds. (Same as it ever was; same as it ever will be).

            You decry the ‘moral ambiguity’ of the Confederate pantheon ….but every pantheon is filled with moral ambiguity. Man being man, we sin, we err, we lie & cheat & behave dishonorably (even, perhaps especially, when we think we’re not). It is our nature. And to say that those generals are butchers is to say that all military commanders are butchers. And on one level that is absolutely true. War is butchery. It always has been. But in this world war is or can be a necessary evil…an obligatory outcome of tribal/competitive human interaction. And so as we fight our wars, we do so with armies and we do so with generals and we leave behind bloody fields where wildflowers come to bloom. And we have a choice — we can either point to the men who drove those battalions to bloody carnage and call them butchers… or we recognize that there, but for the grace of God, go I — and grant them the charity and mercy that we hope they would grant to us if our positions had been otherwise.

            The statues need to stand, not only because they are iconic pieces of public art…. not only because — as symbols — they carry multiple meanings to multiple audiences (symbolizing slavery, bravery, sacrifice, discrimination, hatred, glory, hope, reconciliation, and forgiveness), each meaning completely legitimate…. not only because they are symbols of ourselves as we, as a people used to be…. but because they can serve now and forever as the focus of exactly this kind of discussion, and (hopefully) exactly this kind of learning (which can & should flow from such an interchange of thoughts & ideas).

            Theodore Rebard put it thusly in his essay, “Monuments & Memory”: “Man by his very nature acts in MEMORY and in HOPE. It is because of this continuity of past and future that that Tradition is not a prison, but a lighthouse, rendering social life a “partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born.” Those statues are a part of us, now & forever. Who are we, this single and increasingly selfish generation, to leave as our legacy only a collection of bronze stumps, truncated in our faux outrage? “Look on our works, ye Mighty, and Despair….” Just how myopic & narrow-minded can we be?

          • DrOfnothing

            This is all very nice sentiment, but it does not reflect the reality of culture and politics. Societies move forwards, they change, and, as you say, every symbol has multiple meanings. Sometimes, hopefully with wisdom and acting in compassion for those who suffered under unjust rule, the public deems that this statue or this monument is doing more harm than good. I don’t know how much time you have spent in the south, but it is not as if these statues are open to debate, at least not until now. The level of open adoration, tantamount to worship, is hard to believe until you see it for itself.

            And herein lies the problem, and where I can’t agree with your assessment. In the first place, such honest engagement with the symbols would require an honest engagement with the past itself. And there is no such thing in the south. The confederate flag, Lee, etc. are all considered sacred cows that should be celebrated and treated with reverence. Given that slavery, along with Imperialism and the Holocaust, were the most savage and murderous institutions to be found in the 19th and 20th c., such veneration is wholly misplaced in 2017.

            Secondly, this is not “public art.” There is nothing of inherent aesthetic value to these pieces. They were done professionally, and are adequately life-like, but that’s it. And no one is advocated removing, let alone destroying _every single_ statue and monument, or even anything more than a small portion. What is being called for, and with good reason, is the removal of statues celebrating Civil War generals at the central locus of southern towns and cities.

            In this sense, to do so would be to allow these monuments to serve exactly the purpose you describe. The act of removal is itself a form of engagement, forcing communities to wrestle with both the myths and the realities of their pasts and their present. Not every monument can stand eternally, and “great men,” perhaps more than any other aspect of history, always have a limited shelf-life. I should add that it is highly debatable that many of the figures commemorated in this case were truly “great” to begin with. Lee’s generalship left a lot to be desired, and Gettysburg was an utter disaster, to name just one of many examples. He was not a bad leader, but he was no strategic genius either, and its hard to ignore that his most notable accomplishment was waging, and losing, a war that cost the lives of 800,000 Americans. Jefferson Davis was just plain hopeless.

            But let me say again, these statues, for the most part, are _not_ symbols of the Civil War, they are monuments to Jim Crow and segregation. Yes, they have accrued other meanings besides, but the injustice of their origins remains, and the majority of those accrued meanings reflect this vicious and brutal ideology–hence these white supremacist cockroaches coming out of their dank moral basements to scuttle and skitter around them.

            If they have been, and remain, divisive symbols that find great favour among a truly detestable cohort, and they are a daily insult to the ancestors of the enslaved, we need to ask whether or not the good they do balances this out. I don’t see any way that it does. We hardly need the statues to remind us of America’s greatest national tragedy, its bloodiest and most unnecessary war, any more than Germany needed to leave its buildings bedecked with swastikas and images of Hitler to be reminded of the Nazis (I’m not comparing the two, make no mistake, but it’s a cogent example of how you can remove the hardware without losing the lesson).

          • bdavi52

            I suspect we’ll never agree.
            Allow me one last exchange (a short one, he says, optimistically):

            1) Of course the public should decide. And if the majority of any particular community decides to make a park out of unused land, or erect a statue, or destroy a statue, or keep a statue — that is their business not ours. But it should, I’m sure you’d agree, be decided by vote and not by the Mob and not by the Media.

            2) I would agree that honest engagement with the past (any past, anywhere) is a good thing. All historians would strongly agree. But equally they would agree that finding “honest engagement with the past” (any past, anywhere, by anyone) is like Diogenes’ quest for an honest man — very very difficult to do. Instead we live with (as we always have) our slapdash, 2-dimensional, reinterpretations of the past. Thus Washington and the cherry tree, the God-like Lincoln, the Satanic Confederacy….the list is endless. Thus an audience of 1000 people will see 1000 different things when looking at a statue of Lee (or 100 or 500 or 36…who knows) — and very few of those understandings will be grounded in any honest engagement with history (if only because history is very complex and difficult to understand) But — and this is a key point — it really doesn’t matter as long as their interpretation works for them. Tourists really enjoy touring the Colosseum — NOT because lots and lots of Christians were murdered there, but because it’s a very cool place. That the average tourist has no appreciation of the actual history is essentially irrelevant (until or unless they want to tear it down to build a mall).

            3) Of course this is public art. How could it not be? I’ve seen much better; I’ve seen much worse. Sadly there is no requirement that public art be stupendous. It is iconic and it possesses historic value (both for what it was built to commemorate….and for the actual effort to commemorate….and for whatever historic symbology it now carries as viewed and understood by generation after generation)

            4) Yes, absolutely, the act of removal is an act of engagement. Not one I would personally recommend or support, but still…. In any case, yes, I would strongly recommend (as I think you would too) that the public engage with these statues, debate their meaning, their place (then, now, and tomorrow), their importance, and decide to keep or discard. No different than any other public space decision.

            5) I understand completely what you’re saying, “these statues are monuments to Jim Crow & segregation.” But equally they can be seen, symbolically, as being monuments to many other things (like courage, honor, sacrifice, & reconciliation). That you see them overwhelmingly the other way is entirely your right. That I don’t is equally my right. I believe we both understand this argument….and again, it is not up to us, or the Mob, or the Loudest Shouter, or the Media to decide. It is up to the community to reach a majority decision. In the meantime, violence and vandalism visited upon what now stands in the public square is unacceptable.

            6) The statues, as you say, find great favor among a detestable (but quite small) cohort. They also generate great hatred among a larger but equally detestable cohort (in their violence and vandalism). They are a flash point. The question is, as you also indicate: does the good they do o’er balance the bad?

            Personally I think it does; they do. I hate racism; I detest unprovoked violence. But equally I detest the ISIS-like destruction of historic & valued monuments, memorials, art, etc. simply because someone with a hammer finds them to be offensive today. We’ve seen this kind of violent intolerance in other places and other times — and it is never good (and never a precursor of good to come).

            Our generational vision is inevitably myopic. Our understanding (our true engagement with the past in its entirety) is highly limited. That here in this nation we can recognize & commemorate those who betrayed us, those who were our enemies, those who practiced or supported sinful things is itself testament to our national tolerance, our ability to forgive, our ability to reconcile & move positively forward. It is itself testament to what Lincoln himself asked: with malice towards none and charity for all.

            All that, I believe, is a very good thing. It would be a shame to throw all this away in intolerant tantrum. Such intolerance casts its own shadow, one we should be loath to embrace.

          • DrOfnothing

            Yes, we have reached an impasse, but a brief response to your points:

            3.) Not everything that is iconic is worthwhile preserving (viz. Nazi Germany).
            5.) Again, these do not represent honour and sacrifice. The idea of “southern honour” is a silly myth. Believe me, I’ve spent enough time in the south to understand its hypocrisy.
            6.) There is no cohort more detestable than white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

            This term “ISIS-like destruction” of the past, applied to this issue, is ludicrous. I assume you’ve picked up from the right-wing media discourse on the issue. The attempt to conflate the two groups defies all reason and does not do your arguments credit.

            As for us being a nation that will “recognize and commemorate those who betrayed us,” how can that be the case when you just compared those who protest against racism to ISIS and asserted that white supremacists and those who oppose them are equally detestable. I disagree completely with your moral compass here.

            Again, I urge you to consider what it must be like for an African-American to drive down Richmond’s main street and see these statues day after day. If there is any sign that Virginia and the south are a region incapable of reconciling itself with the rest of the nation, of viewing its history honestly, and of seeking honour and justice for _all_ its residents, then it is surely the blank, bronze gaze of Lee and Jackson.

          • bdavi52

            OK, let me try an ever briefer counter. (this would be much easier and faster over a beer)

            3) Totally agree — nor am I suggesting that everything which is ‘iconic’ IS worth preserving. BUT, by virtue of its iconic status, we rightfully tend to preserve such things (Nazi memorabilia is everywhere….just not in public squares…not since May 1945).

            5) You miss my point. Whether or not the symbolic reading of an icon is historically accurate is immaterial. What matters is the reading itself (which will, naturally, change over time). RE: my colosseum example….or the Arc de Triomphe example….or the Dukes of Hazzard example. Just because we react to each of these according to our own idiosyncratic understanding (typically quite disconnected from historical reality), that does not make our reaction ‘wrong’ save in that limited, historical sense. In other words, for all those millions who enjoyed the antics of the Dukes (a pleasure which eluded me completely, btw), the pleasure they felt in their understanding of their rebel standard as a symbol of courage and independence was a legitimate (though historically ill-founded) pleasure. Nothing wrong with that.

            6) More detestable? Maybe not. Equally detestable, absolutely. History, as you know, is full of examples (Cheka, NKVD, Red Guard, Gestapo, ISIS, Mau Mau, Hezbollah, Al-Quaeda, Boko Haram, PDFLP, Black September, Red Army Faction, Shining Path, Red Brigades, the list is huge. As for which current American group of idiots is more detestable….honestly, I consider anyone who is kicking me, hitting me in the head, burning my store down, threatening to kill me… detestable (don’t care what color booties they wear). I’m sure you would, too.

            And no, ISIS-like destruction of monuments (be they 150 years old or 1500 years old) is still ISIS-like destruction. It is the arbitrary eradication & tearing down of historical symbols which currently offend those with hammers. Neither act is civilized; neither act is the majority will, democratically decided, and reasonably enacted — it is simply intolerance backed by violence.

            And please, let us not conflate things. To be anti-racist is one thing (everyone, quite literally, everyone I know and the vast majority of the 300M citizens in the United States (and the entirety of the national media) is anti-racist. Only sociopaths & psychopaths hate because of skin color. But that has nothing to do with the ISIS-like destruction of public monuments which offend (even though they offend because to the offended they symbolize racism and/or betrayal). Those statues also (as we’ve infinitely discussed), symbolize reconciliation & forgiveness (among a variety of other qualities).

            As I said… that we can recognize & commemorate those who betrayed us, those who were our enemies, those who practiced or supported sinful things is itself testament to our national tolerance, our ability to forgive, our ability to reconcile & move positively forward. It is itself testament to what Lincoln himself asked: with malice towards none and charity for all.

            All that, I believe, is a very good thing. It would be a shame to throw all this away in intolerant tantrum. Such intolerance casts its own shadow, one we should be loath to embrace.

            I would urge you to consider what it must be like to be anyone who sees in these bronze memorials something noble, something honorable, something which symbolizes the very strength & resilience of the nation … consider what it means for them to see such things toppled and trampled by a mob which voices only hatred & intolerance (a mob which denies to them the right to see in these symbols something different). And then ask yourself what is truly the right thing to do.

            I feel confident that you will decide as any citizen would decide … to allow such questions to be answered by the will of the people, and be content. There really is no other way (even if…perhaps especially if….we disagree with that will as it is voiced).

            [Sorry — so much for BRIEF counters. Maybe we should stop??]

          • DrOfnothing

            Ok, ok. Just one request–please stop conflating left-wing activists with all the groups of violent rebels you list and with ISIS. They have not killed a single person and they are not religious fundamentalists. The only reason people equate the white supremacists in C’ville with Nazis is because a bunch of them actually _were_ Nazis, and they did murder someone. Hyperbole gets us nowhere. You simply don’t see left-wing activists walking around toting assault rifles or holding torchlight parades yelling “Jew will not replace us.” If that isn’t a fairly clear moral difference between the two actual groups, and a clear indicator of their willingness to commit acts of brutal violence, I don’t know what is. You see the occasional person with a Che Guevara t-shirt (my favourite being the one with the caption “I have no idea who this is”) but its not as if they’re toting around busts of Stalin or praising Pol Pot.

            Hard right folks, on the other hand, heap praise upon Hitler and call for race-war and the violent overthrow of the US govt. on a regular basis. If they weren’t part of Trump’s base, they’d be quickly labelled “terrorists” and treated as such. And let’s not forget that
            1.) the single most destructive act of domestic terrorism prior to 9/11 was committed by someone who today, would definitely be labelled “alt-right” (Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber)
            2.) Extreme right-wing demonstrators have, on several occasions in recent memory, staged armed confrontations with police, ending in fatalities. They also frequently assert their rights to armed resistance, and even to armed rebellion. Violence, and violence against minorities in particular, is actively celebrated and permeates both the rhetoric and symbols, from burning crosses and nooses to m16-toting Pepes with Trump hairdos. For my money, it’s the potential for violent mayhem that attracts a significant number of alienated young people to these events and their leaders.

            To my knowledge, Civil Rights protesters (which is the rough classification of most of those on the streets in C’ville) are an entirely different breed, and though some advocate more destructive resistance than others, violence is not a core part of the approach. The philosophy is almost invariably one of civil disobedience rather than armed confrontation–the inspiration here is MLK, not Stalin or Che. You have to go to the really far edge of things to find anyone advocating violence, and they have almost no influence whatsoever anymore (e.g. the Weathermen, who haven’t been active since the 1970s) The one recent exception to the general absence of violent left-wing protest in the US is James Hodgkinson (the Congressional gunman), who worked for Bernie Sanders.

            Don’t take my word for it, though, read the editorial letter on the topic recently penned by an ecumenical group of spiritual leaders from across the religious spectrum

          • bdavi52

            Obviously we can go on forever (don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, though).

            Just a quick note on conflation (I promise). Agreed. Dangerous and misleading to speak of ISIS and the AntiFa in the same breath. They are different, obviously, and one is violent, and intolerant, and murderous (as demonstrated quite consistently) and the other, so far, is just violent & intolerant.

            My intent, though, as stated was to simply link ISIS destruction of offensive historical monuments with ISIS-like destruction of offensive, American historical monuments. Both flow from a basic religious intolerance (in the case of the AntiFa the religion preached & practiced is, of course, the New Progressivism); both refuse to recognize any counter perspectives. ISIS totes AK47’s and AntiFa does not…but both seem to enjoy the anonymity of Black Masks and the infliction of violence upon its opponents.

            You’re right, of course, if we only examine recent American history most of the violence here has emanated from the Far Right not the Far Left. But honestly I don’t find past trends all that reassuring. The Left, as you well know, has a well-established history of hatred & violence which equals if not surpasses the record established by the Right. And if I’m the one being beaten round about the head, I really care very little which color booties the thugs happen to be wearing. I’m sure you would agree.

            But enough of all this. Appreciate the discussion (and the lack of grade school insults! Hard to find these days.)

            Best wishes!

          • Stanw909

            If I may console you a little . These groups have little to no power in modern Virginia and if ignored would just be seen as anachronistic . I seem to remember Virginia going for Hillary and not for Trump but if the city leaders of Charlottesville and the governor of Virginia will not protect Freedom of Speech no matter how distasteful , then the next Presidential election results in Virginia may be different .

          • Stanw909

            I believe the Vietnamese honor their dead as we do and don’t get your point unless you are suggesting we erect a monument in their honor in which case I would disagree .

      • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

        No, not really. Across the street from my church in Florida is a Union monument, put up in 1920s. Rare, but for good reasons.

    • Stanw909

      Asking maturity in our modern Snowflake culture of the perpetually offended is a big ask . Removing these statues will not help Black society from the rot within , but I guess if it removes one more excuse to not address the incredible Black on Black murder/crime rate or the 72% out of wedlock birth rate and generational poverty , then maybe the statues should be respectfully taken down and placed in locations where those who wish to view them may do so .

  • John Graham

    Perhaps we should consider what Romania and other eastern block countries did with their statues of Communist dictators–create a “Monument Park” and move the Confederate statues to an area where people who want to venerate them can do so.
    Defending the existence of statues as “history” is disingenuous at best. That history should be noted, but certainly not celebrated. Does Germany venerate its “Nazi dead” or students who fought and died for the Nazi cause?

    • bdavi52

      Can we not discuss the Civil War and the Confederacy without reference to the Nazis? Do we really, seriously, equate Jeff Davis and Hitler, Rommel & Lee? America in the mid-19th century under Lincoln to Germany in ’45 under the control of the British, French, Americans, and Soviets?

      We sought not to eradicate the South and the ideology which gave it life, rather to subdue it, to remove it’s desire and/or material capability to continue the rebellion. When the war ended, we chose — quite deliberately — not to treat the defeated as traitorous scum….not to shovel their dead into mass, unmarked graves….not to hang their leaders as evil men….not to occupy their lands, take their property, remove their citizenship. Rather we embraced them as brothers — who once were lost and now were found. Rather we recognized them as Americans, once again — a critical part of a nation reunited.

      Lincoln himself cautioned us: “Judge not that we be no judged”. He asked, required, and expected — in fully anticipation of the conflict’s end: with malice towards none and charity for all. And to that end, we allowed, enabled, even encouraged the erection of monuments & memorials to our brother’s fallen heroes.

      If those who lost their fathers, brothers, sons can forgive and accept, even while those wounds still bled, can we 150 years after, do less?

      • DrOfnothing

        Not to point out an inconvenient historical fact here, but the North was actually quite brutal to the Confederate states post-war. Reconstruction was not a pretty business, and it sowed the seeds of resentment that fed into Jim Crow, anti-Civil Rights campaigns, and the continued delusion that somehow the south won a moral victory even though they lost the military conflict.

        • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

          Yes, Reconstruction was far from the ideal urged by Lincoln.

          But the ideological core of Secession (I am thinking here of the writings of Robert Lewis Dabney, a Presbyterian theologian and Stonewall Jackson’s erstwhile chaplain, who continued to urge relocation to South America after the war on religious grounds) stands in the background, even if we moderns cannot comprehend it. Rather than attributing these beliefs to a Reconstruction or post-Reconstruction “Lost Cause,” I see the latter in terms of the former.

          Dabney and Thornwell’s conservative theology, for example, paves the way for modern Creationism in its ante-bellum rejection of German higher criticism and Darwin’s theory of evolution, as one would expect from an agrarian, caste-based social system.

        • bdavi52

          No question.
          But not nearly as brutal or unforgiving as we could have been. Punitive, certainly, but not burn them to the ground, plow them under, sow the ruins with salt kind of brutal. Ultimately — as part of that endless effort to form a more perfect union — we re-recognized them as Americans, fully privileged.

        • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

          Just found this erudite paper, “SLAVERY AND THE EVANGELICAL ENLIGHTENMENT” Robert P. Forbes
          Department of History University of Connecticut at that shows nuances for this vexed topic.

    • justjammin44

      You John Graham must have been educated by our liberal professors.

  • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

    Maryland’s State Song has the same issues.

    As an historical artifact, the lyrics accurately convey the emotions of long ago that focused on what the South perceived as aggression by the North. It depicts the sense of outrage in response to attacks on the honor of Maryland, and Virginia. This song is very much about Southern Honor, something completely displaced by our modern sense of dignity and, unfortunately, something no longer comprehended by our interpretations of that earlier Era.

  • Fred McCoy

    With such monuments we honor that which we consider honorable as of the dedication. It is natural that some drift would occur in future generations as to the judgement. On net, we have a bountiful inheritance. In the presence of history, we would do well to exhibit more humility. We simply add to history in our own time. It would seem best to keep the inheritance and focus our energy on what we deem worthy of such honor in the monuments we would build.

  • JWJ

    First, if you look at the math of the “spike” in the statues, the first spike was basically the 50-year anniversary dates. The second spike was in the 1960’s. I’ll let those smarter than me do the math on that particular significant anniversary.
    Occam’s razor people. Not the utter stupidity and ignorance of Atlantic writers (except for maybe Megan McArdle)

    Definitely need to re-name Duke University as it was named after a slave-holder. Go back to its original name of Normal College. It’s just a stationery and signage change, which is not much to ask of slaveholder university to rid it of the taint of the confederacy and slavery.
    Duke name change first, then have UNC take down silent sam.

  • Lincoln Weinberg Jr

    We don’t live in a Faceb00k reality. In Faceb00k you can simply “unfriend” people or organizations you don’t like anymore. The sudden outrage to tear down history follows this mentality. Sorry, one can’t “unfriend” history just b/c one is being “triggered”.

  • As for the timing of the monuments going up, a couple of things should be noted. One, many of them roughly corresponded with the big round anniversaries of the war. Two, there are still Confederate monuments going up in our own times; you can see their dedication ceremonies on Youtube.

    • justjammin44

      so, what’s your point.

  • The generals and politicians are one thing; the war dead are another. Those monuments should stay. No matter how “woke” anyone is, it is beyond arrogant to require people to spit on the graves of their ancestors, and erase them from the local memory. St. Augustine’s example should be followed: instead of tearing down its monuments, that town put up more monuments of more contemporary civil rights heroes, to balance the war memorials.

  • Stanw909

    Here is the full Angela Rye quote ” George Washington was a slave owner. And 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 who, my ancestors weren’t deemed human beings to him. And so, to me, I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue, they all need to come down. … And I’m not saying that they don’t deserve to be taught about. We definitely need to learn about it so that we don’t repeat it. Because we’re very close to repeating it right now. But I’m not giving any deference to George Washington or to Robert E. Lee.”

  • Brian K

    Why weren’t these monuments racist during Obama’s eight years? No call to remove them then?

  • J Alan

    Excellent. The prevailing logic of pulling down statues could lead us down a road to disaster. What’s next? Burning books? Maybe the Native American Indians should tell us to leave their country. Look what America did to their culture. We can’t change history, but how can we best learn from it? I took my family into Jefferson Davis’ house. I’m totally on opposite sides of the man, but what we learned gave us a sense of gratefulness- that our country is unified and we are overcoming and growing. It’s a great reminder of what we shouldn’t stand for. Take Thomas Jefferson: Had his original Declaration of Independence been adopted slavery would have been abolished like it should have, at the beginning. Yet he owned slaves, go figure. If we tear down and erase everything we abhor there won’t be anything left.

  • justjammin44

    The black people in this country ought to stand tall, quit complaining about everything and then read history. almost every country in the world had slaves long ago. Not just the early U.S. The pyramids were build by slaves, should they be taken down? What about the great wall of china?
    White people were also slaves of the Romans when they invaded Great Britain way back when.
    Get over yourselves. Quit trying to remove history or it WILL repeat itself.
    And… I will bet that 80% of the young people 2 months ago could have walked by a General Lee statue and not even know who he was… After all our young people believe that there is global warming caused by man. Even though the sun is getting bigger and throws off huge solar flares. And one good volcano eruption pollutes enough for years of polution by man. You want to eliminate co2? plant more trees, bushes, plants.

  • BR

    Article: “According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist University poll, 86 percent of Americans ‘disagree with the white supremacy movement” and 94 percent “disagree with the views of the KKK.’ And yet, 62 percent think that the Confederate statues should remain in place ‘as historical symbols.’ ”

    Right. And African-Americans think they should remain by a 44-40 margin (16% said they don’t know/don’t care). In fact, every region, race, and age group thinks they should remain. Why? Maybe it’s because they know the real purpose of the monuments- to honor those who died in a war and not the lies promoted by political fringe groups and certain elements of the media.

  • BR

    Article: Consider, for instance, UNC Chapel Hill’s “Silent Sam” monument, which was dedicated in 1913. During the dedication speech, Confederate veteran Julian Carr boasted about how he publicly whipped a black woman. He also emphasized that the Confederacy fought for the cause of preserving the “Anglo-Saxon” race.

    Here’s what the Governor of NC said in his speech at the dedication: “Ours is the task to build a State worthy of all patriotism and heroic deeds, a State that demands justice for herself and all her people, a State sounding with the music of victorious industry, a State whose awakened conscience shall lead the State to evolve from the forces of progress a new social order, with finer development for all conditions and classes of our people.”

  • Robert E Lee


  • scorpions knight

    Everyone is listening to public officials and higher education figures, when will the thoughts of the average citizen be heard? Men and women of color for years have travelled past these statues going about their daily lives,and those statues have not hindered them from getting a quality education or for providing for their families. With so many issues that need our attention, such as education and crime, we need to focus on what matters now. One city in Virginia has 44 schools and only 19 are accredited. I am a person of color, and it’s sad to see where we have placed our value.

  • jan marchand

    Finally! A discussion group that can talk about this volatile subject like adults and not like kids on a playground resorting to name calling and fisticuffs! Having grown up in New Orleans I myself was only aware of these statues as background to that vibrant city. And yes, they were part of its history good and bad. After all the fervor over whether they should be taken down or not I immediately thought of the enduring quote on the Holocaust, Never Forget. The next thought that popped in my mind was, where will this end?

  • Floyd Perlman

    Why can’t we put a new and additional bronze plate Decrying the negative issues that are upsetting people of our time.
    the Holocaust Museum is not a positive experience For the feelings of the Jewish people. What is better to teach the future what has happened in the past so that we don’t repeat those Horrors.
    the museum is a very constant and


    It was a war to defend the state of North Carolina.


    The difference between these statues and the statues of Hitler is that Hitler put up the statues to himself during his own lifetime. If the South had lost the war due to Davis and Lee wasting the treasury on putting up statues to themselves I expect they would have been torn down right after the war. Instead they were put up by poor mothers and widows saving coins to memorialize their husbands and children who died defending their homes. You can never repay what they lost.