Nancy Pelosi is calling for the removal of 11 Confederate statues from Capitol Building. She had previously called for the removal of the statues in 2017 when she was House minority leader. Her renewed efforts come as the nation struggles with the prevalence of police killings of black people, including the death of George Floyd. This request also came the day President Donald Trump said he would not consider renaming military bases that are derived from Confederate figures. There is a difference between removing statues and destroying them. Confederate statues and monuments have a place in museums and cemeteries. These statues and confederate monuments play an essential part in American history, and all Americans must learn the real, unfiltered past of the country. However, there is a difference between learning our history and celebrating our history. The Confederate statues and monuments do not portray an accurate history.
In a report on Confederate monuments, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the 700+ monuments across the country, two distinct periods saw significant spikes in the creation of monuments. The first began around 1900 as Southern states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise African Americans and re-segregate society after several decades of integration that followed reconstruction. It lasted well into the 1920s, a period that also saw a strong revival of the Ku Klux Klan. The second period began in the mid-1950s and continued until the late 1960s, the period encompassing the modern civil rights movement. These statues came as a response to reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement, explicit symbols of white supremacy.
There are arguments that the removal of these monuments and statues will create a slippery slope leading to the eventual removal of all of America’s Founding Fathers, who owned slaves. There is a difference, however, between Thomas Jefferson, whose practice of slavery comes as a sad but necessary reminder of the ways of the past, and Confederate generals whose statues today stand for nothing more than the lost cause of the Confederacy. What are Robert E. Lee’s accomplishments besides leading the Confederate army? His name represents the Confederacy and, in turn, the oppression of African Americans. Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, the US’ third president, has a lot to be remembered for besides being a slave owner.
America has a dark past, which includes 160 years of slavery. The country was split and fought in a war over the country’s long and troubled history in dealing with race. While the Confederate monuments and statues are a part of American history, they should never be looked fondly back on. Just because something is a part of history does not mean it deserves to be respected.
When it comes down to it- is removing these statues really going to make a difference? Protestors are not only removing them; they are destroying these monuments to history. If people try to destroy history then how is anyone supposed to learn from it? Violence and destruction are not a good way to go about changing what the protestors want to achieve.
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