Thanks to Charlottesville, recently there has been a huge debate on whether we should or shouldn't remove Confederate statues. Honestly, I personally didn't care too much about Confederate statues. I just don't really think too much about them...until now. After studying on the issue for a while, I understand why people would want to take them down. We have to understand that these Confederate monuments were placed during the Jim Crow Era. They weren't placed to "preserve" American history, but rather to preserve the idea of white supremacy. The monuments were placed during the 1880s and 1890s in order to perpetuate intimidation toward newly freed slaves in the South.
But one might ask me, "Why do you want to erase history?" I thought a long time about that. But to me, it's not about erasing history...it's about not glorifying it. Just think about it...when you see a public monument, you're lead to believe that "I should be praising this historic figure." I mean they have a statue in a public area... they must've done something praiseworthy, right? (Although in modern America we do tend to reward bad behavior but that's another topic for another day) But context matters. What are we glorifying when we have Confederate monuments? Again it's not about erasing history.
Adolf Hitler was considered as one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. But we wouldn't think it would be acceptable to have a statue of someone who was willing to execute millions of people. So why do we find it acceptable having a statue of someone willing to kill thousands in order to preserve slavery? Denying the basic humanity of millions of people. Yes, I understand that we have monuments to help explain history. It also provides us actual visualization. But we don't keep segregated water fountains in public areas to "preserve history." Just because it's not physically there doesn't mean we're rewriting history.
But then one might say, "But when is it going to stop? Are we going to take down Jefferson and Washington statues down too?" First of all, taking down monuments is a slippery slope...but that's why try to we find and establish a moral footing so that we won't stumble and fall over. It's important to have a conversation on what we honor in American society. Yes, Jefferson and Washington owned slaves...but their generative principles and ideas of what America should stand for were utilized by different minority groups for equal and civil rights.
On the other hand, people like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis fought in order to undermine and destroy those same principles. I'm all for museums. We have a 9/11 museum (which is amazing by the way) because it was significant to our nation, to our history, and to our culture. Here's an analogy...just pretend 9/11 represented slavery and Osama bin Laden represented a Confederate General. Yeah, we all can acknowledge that bin Laden was on the wrong side of history...but would you want a public statue of him because you feared of "erasing" history?