I realise I am a year late with this response. However, the topic arose, I wrote my thoughts on it, and I have decided I would like to share them with you. This is my response to a collection of six articles on the web talking about the Charlottesville incident last August and what should be done with American confederate monuments. ~
My opinion on the whole confederate monument fiasco which sparked last year is, for the most part, divided. I do believe that part of what they represent is terrible, and they should not glorify parts of America’s past. Thus, they should be removed. However, they should not be completely removed. Though Davidson brought this point up in his article as something rather critical, I agree with the idea: put them in museums! I don’t think they should be destroyed by any means. After all, as several articles point out, whether we like it or not, it is part of America’s past – or the whole world’s.
With the above ideas in mind, I of course do not agree with Cox’s argument that the monuments are largely representative of white supremacy. She does not agree with it, she points out that “some say they are about heritage and history, not racism; others say we need to keep them in place to remind us of our dark past.” This is what I agree with. The past was a terrible time. Violence in slavery, nulling of indigenous peoples, clashing of the classes, and so forth. Zimmer says, “This history is important because the prospects today for building the Left in the United States are better than they have been in more than a generation — and this definitely includes the South.” Kuznar says, "Removing Confederate statues amounts to whitewashing our history, turning our heads away from the inconvenient truths of our past." We cannot ignore this past. It has already shaped us, made us who we are today. It happened, and we have to accept that. By having these monuments, we can give them new meaning, and learn about the past, what we did wrong, and how we must avoid it in the future. It is like a reflection of how far we have come. Davidson points out that “certainly, the statues were not originally meant to educate future generations about the evils of slavery and secession, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take them as such today.”
A large part of Kerwick’s argument – though I do not agree with all of his points, nor do I appreciate his wholly sarcastic approach – is something that I do agree with: if we remove anything and everything that has to do with slavery, then we have removed most of America. In fact, as he states, “since it is ‘White Supremacy’ that is the real target of the anti-Confederates [ie those wishing to destroy the monuments], the name of America itself must be retired.” Anything can be connected in long or short to slavery, and so it is not entirely ethical to remove the monuments on that basis.
While Foner’s argument is against the statues, he does bring up something crucial: not everyone in the South was for slavery or the war. Many were against it. And so, the statues do not simply represent slavery, but, on a greater scale, a time. The war itself. Davidson and Zimmer point out how the Civil War was fighting for more than protecting slavery (in fact, many fighting sought to abolish it), and that it has the largest fatality count. So we cannot just ignore this; it must be represented. However, the means of representation must change.
That’s why I’m for keeping these monuments, but in a different light. Museums. No longer would they be on display for the everyday passing public, seemingly glorifying those represented. Glorifying them for, as many see it, racism, even though other factors enter into it. Instead, they may be viewed by those who wish to view them while on display. Somewhere where they can choose to learn about America’s past and all of its dilemmas (slavery) and accomplishments (independence). They are works of art and represent the past, whether we like it or not. And we just have a accept that.
My name is Tanner F. Riche. I am a published journalist and author, via numerous newspapers, Amazon, Kobo, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and other sources. Please join me on my journey as a writer. I post occasionally.