Should Confederate statues be removed?

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Should Confederate statues be removed?

Illustration by Isha Pandya

Illustration by Isha Pandya

Illustration by Isha Pandya

Aidan Trejo and Tyler Peck

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YES

During a peaceful protest in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, a group of protesters gathered to stand up to the white supremacist and neo nazis that had taken to the streets.

However, the protest soon turned violent when James Alex Fields drove his Dodge Challenger into a group, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others. 

Protests continued in Charlottesville as protesters supporting the far left or far right came head to head. 

After these recent protests in Charlottesville and around the country, it is obvious that Confederate statues of past “American Heroes” has become a controversial topic. 

These recent events have brought up a conversation regarding the question: Should these symbols of America’s dark past be removed? 

These reminders of America’s dark past need to be removed from public places immediately.

The first step to this should be removing the statues and storing them in museums. This would please both sides as they would be removed from public places but could still be viewed as historical artifacts. 

In addition to this, the statues could also be auctioned off to  private collectors.

What we cannot do is let this consistent trend of vandalization or destruction of these statues continue. It is simply counterproductive and hurts both sides. 

     During a protest in Durham, N.C., protesters attached a rope across the shoulder of a Confederate statue like a sash of dishonor, and pulled it to the ground, leaving it in pieces.

This is why these statutes must be removed from public places. 

We can’t just watch as these pieces of  our history are destroyed. This is a dangerous and costly to preserving the integrity of our storied history, both the good and bad.   

It is important to remember where we came from and our past, but we should not be honoring the men that fought for slavery and against our country. 

These statues have no business being in public places and should be removed in respect for all those impacted by the Civil War, slavery, and continued discrimination. 

We should not listen to President Trump’s ‘slippery slope’ argument, which was that if these statues are taken down, where do we stop? 

Trump said, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week?” He worries that prominent statues like Washington’s would be removed along with those of Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee because Washington was a slave owner. 

Although this seems to be a very compelling argument, it fails in this case because the statues of Lee and others representing the Confederacy were  erected in direct relation to their fight to keep and extend slavery in the U.S. 

Jefferson and Washington’s statues were built to represent the foundation of this country, and don’t directly relate to the fact they were owners of slaves or promote racial discrimination.

History of the Confederacy and slavery should be moved to textbooks and Museums, as we try to move past discrimination both in the past and in the modern day. 

Slavery and racial discrimination is a part of our history, but  we should remember it, not glorify it.

 

NO

The removal of Confederate statues began with the belief that these statues were glorifying the racism and slavery that happened over 100 years ago. 

A recent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., protesting the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee  took a violent turn with the death of Heather Heyer. This accelerated the removal of Confederate statues. 

Although Neo-Nazis may claim that these monuments are part of their heritage and what they believe, that is not the purpose of these statues and what they represent. 

These monuments should not be removed.

The main argument people make for wanting the Confederate statues removed is that they glorify and commemorate racists who wanted to keep slavery and continue their own economic prosperity. 

Although large portions of Southern people were racist during this time, these Southern citizens were threatened because of their way of life and their beliefs. 

These monuments across America were built to honor the fallen soldiers and great generals of the Confederacy.

 The men who fought for the Confederacy believed in what they were doing and were willing to die to protect what they thought was their way of life.

People seem to forget that the Confederacy weren’t the only ones that had racist soldiers and leaders during the Civil War. 

Many Union officers believed that black soldiers wouldn’t be as brave or effective in battle and, therefore, they were restricted to support roles such as cooks and carpenters.

Racism was widespread during the 19th century all over the world, not solely in the Confederacy. 

If Confederate statues are removed, should all statues of racist individuals be removed? George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both slave owners, so should they be erased from history because of this? 

People can remember the sins that these men of history have done, but their contributions to society outweigh the atrocities they may have committed. 

We as a society learn through the mistakes of our past. Removing these statues erases our history and memory of those mistakes, allowing us to make them again.

America isn’t the only country that has monuments of questionable historic figures. Germany still has memorials across the country for Erwin Rommel, a Nazi field marshal who established his reputation in North Africa against the Allied Forces.

Winston Churchill and General Patton both respected Rommel as a leader and even after the disgraced Nazi regime fell, he still was remembered for his leadership abilities and his contribution to history.

Although many monuments and memorials of Confederate figures still remain across America today, they are increasingly being frowned upon and removed. 

What is worrying to me is that once every Confederate monument is removed, what will be removed next?

People always need something to fight for and eventually even the Washington monument and Lincoln memorial will become questioned because of their racial ties.

The line needs to be drawn somewhere before every piece of American history is erased and we are allowed to make the mistakes of our forefathers.