The debate over removing Confederate statues continues to rage. People on both sides vigorously defend their position, pointing out disturbing facts about the Founding Fathers and the founding of America as reasons why the Confederate monuments aren’t so different from Revolutionary monuments. On the other side, opponents of the statues argue that they celebrate white supremacy.
Why are Confederate statues being removed? Arguments for why Confederate statues should be removed include the Confederacy's shameful history of treason and white supremacy, as well as the original purpose of these statues, which was to intimidate Black Americans while celebrating white power. In fact, even Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate statues.
Arguments for why Confederate statues should not be removed include pointing out the dark sides of other celebrated American heroes, like Washington and Jefferson, as well as the politicization of the statues when there are more important problems. Keep reading for all the pros and cons of removing Confederate statues.
Pro: There Are No Statues Of Adolf Hitler In Berlin
Hitler was a pretty major part of German history—but Germany rejects him as a traitor to his people. That’s why there are no statues of Hitler in Berlin, as Gersh Kuntzman points out in the New York Daily News. And is the Confederacy so different from Hitler? It was created as an act of treason against the United States. So why celebrate treason with monuments and statues? After all, it’s not like people have forgotten Hitler just because there aren’t statues in his honor.
Con: Removing The Statues Doesn’t Actually Address The Problems
As Kendall Wills Sterling argues in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the energy directed at removing Confederate statues “would not materially alter the plight of Black Americans.” If one of the arguments against the statues is that they celebrate slave owners, simply taking them away does little for the descendants of slaves. Further, the time and energy spent raging against the Confederate memorials could better be spent addressing the problems that face our nation today. Surely an old statue isn’t the most pressing issue in the twenty-first century.
Pro: These Monuments Belong In Museums That Contextualize Them
Yes, it’s important not to forget the past. Which is why these monuments belong in museums, where they can be presented in their historical context. An enormous statue of a bronze man in the center of town does little more than imply he is someone notable or worthy of admiration. This could not be further from the truth—the secessionists fought against their nation to perpetuate slavery. For the monuments to be true teaching tools, they belong in museums where viewers can learn about the evils of slavery and white supremacy.
Con: Leave The Statues Up To Remember A Shameful Period In History
Most Confederate monuments were erected between 1870 and the 1930s to honor the cause of the Confederacy or the memory of slavery—and that’s exactly why we should keep them. It’s about preserving our history, so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. The monuments are a reminder of the devastation caused by the Civil War, which cost the lives of 620,000 Americans. Taking down the monuments only erases the moment in our nation’s history where we came closest to falling apart. Keeping them up serves as a reminder of a difficult and shameful period in American history.