Heather Hastie on the statue-removal frenzy and other issues

I’m a bit conflicted about the mania to remove Confederate statues that’s going on throughout the U.S. Yes, some people are offended by them, but they’re also a part of our history—an unsavory part, to be sure, but something we shouldn’t forget. After all, the remains of Manzanar, the California prison camp where many Japanese-Americans (citizens!) were interned, stands as a memorial to that ridiculous and offensive move. Should we wipe out the remains of Manzanar, too? Are we to efface every trace of the Confederacy? I’m conflicted about destroying every statue of Confederate soldiers and statesmen.

And what about Auschwitz? Should, as Heather Hastie asks in her new post “On Charlottesville and freedom of speech“, “raze it to the ground”? After all, it reminds people of a horrible time, and that, indeed, is its purpose. Maybe some Nazis celebrate the camp as the right way to deal with Jews, but I doubt that we’d want to destroy it and efface that history.

I do recognize that the Confederate statues were meant to celebrate soldiers and statesman of the secessionist South, and Manzanar and Auschwitz are meant to do the opposite, but in both cases we’re reminded of a history that we shouldn’t forget. Further, the statue destruction is getting worse: now there are suggestions to destroy statues of Andrew Jackson, who became President of the United States, and, in the Guardian, Afua Hirsch has even suggested deep-sixing Lord Nelson’s statue in Trafalgar Square, for Nelson was “a white supremacist and defender of slavery.” Well, Darwin was sort of a white supremacist, though an ardent abolitionist as well, and most Europeans of that era and before could be seen as white supremacists. Should we remove all their statues?

The issue is a complex one, and Heather has a solution:

I would like to see a different response to the statues. My preference would be the erection of statues to appropriate local or national heroes in the fight for Civil Rights alongside the monuments to Civil War icons.  There are plenty to choose from, but I suspect that many in the South couldn’t name them. Their lists would dwindle pretty quickly after the names of Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Frederick Douglas.

I think the erection of statues to Civil Rights heroes nearby Civil War heroes would be a better lesson for the future. Coming generations would see history advancing. It may be cathartic for some to destroy a statue today, but I’m not sure the action would have lasting value. For example, there are millions of people who have been abused by one church or another. What if they got together and went around destroying religious buildings or statues? I think a statue of Rosa Parks next to one of General Lee would be a better lesson. It would show how such people are finally taking their right and proper place as worthy of veneration by all.

One day, hopefully, hatred based on race (or anything else!) will be a thing of the past. Its previous existence will be a curiosity rather than trauma it is now for so many. That’s why I’d like to see the statues remain – so people in coming years can see that there was a time when the hate was there, but it was overcome. The new monuments alongside the old would represent that visually. Also, in most places, what has made the statues a problem is that white supremacist hate groups have adopted them as a cause.

That sounds reasonable (though perhaps impractical) to me, and is unlikely to engender disturbances and violence, so go discuss it on her page.


  1. sensorrhea
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The equating of a preserved Manzanar with a theoretical monument glorifying the guy who decided Japanese Americans should be incarcerated there is odd to me. Yes, they both represent history, but that is a pretty vague connection. Remembering is a very different thing from aggrandizing. In many cases in the south it’s very clear which memorials are aggrandizing confederate military and political heroes.

    • loren russell
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Essentially the difference between the ‘Arbeit macht frei’ gate AT Auschwitz, and a multitude of unironic replicas erected in the 1980s, ’90s and beyond in city squares and in front of government buildings across Germany.

      It’s pride of place, not their mere existence, that sticks in my craw for these statues and memorials. THAT controls the narrative.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      My first thought on reading that analogy.

    • Richard Jones
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      FDR does have a monument on the mall. Interning Japanese Americans was on his order.

      • sensorrhea
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Yes, but he doesn’t have a golden statue showing him signing the order in front of the camp.

    • eric
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      I agree. The best civil war analog of Manzanar or Auschwitz would be a civil war battlefield, not a statue of a Confederate soldier. There are in fact many many civil war battlefields that are memorialized, and AFAIK nobody complains about them at all, because very few people have a problem preserving the historical record of war’s terrible death toll as a ‘never forget, never repeat’ type of historical lesson.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      How about a statue of Field Marshal von Rundstedt in his Wehrmacht uniform atop a Panzer somewhere near the gates of Buchenwald or Dachau — you know, not to celebrate National Socialism, of course, but merely to commemorate how nobly he had commanded his troops along the Siegfried Line in defense of the Fatherland? Wouldn’t that rightly raise every sane person’s hackles?

  2. YF
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Instead of removing the monuments, why not put an informational plaque beneath them which explains their historical significance (good and bad)?

  3. Mike Anderson
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    >> After all, the remains of Manzanar, the California prison camp where many Japanese-Americans (citizens!) were interned, stands as a memorial to that ridiculous and offensive move. Should we wipe out the remains of Manzanar, too?

    If Manzanar is presented in a favorable or noble light, a source of pride to those that support what happened there, then yes it should be torn down.

    • Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      To retain it, I’d say that you just leave it up and give an explanation of what it was. You don’t even have to moralize to make people see how horrible it was. The Confederate statues may have “favorable” plaques, but what if they don’t? What if they just name the person?

      As I say, I haven’t arrived at a firm position about all this. And maybe never will.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        It’s not just the plaques that can suggest favorability. Make someone’s likeness larger than life, on a horse, on a pedestal – what does that suggest?

      • Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        When you have no firm position it makes sense to leave things as they are. Once these statues are down they are down forever.

      • sensorrhea
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        You should see the aggrandizing memorial in Charleston to the “Confederate defenders of Charleston, Fort Sumter.”

        It’s a nearly nude soldier with a shield and a goddess behind him.

        Of course they are the ones who started the war by bombarding essentially helpless Ft. Sumter for 34 hours.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

          That one cracks me up. Since he’s (presumably) not ancient Greek I find that rather bizarre. (Not very, errm, well-endowed, is he? Maybe it was just a rather cold day…)

          I mean, if any soldiers had appeared on the field of battle in 18xx dressed like that they would probably have been shot by their own side for moral depravity…

          Maybe the erectors of the statue got a cut-rate deal on a generic ‘classical heroic warrior’ statue from somewhere.


      • BJ
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Perhaps this reasoning will sway your opinion (or perhaps not!): tearing down statues of people revered centuries ago but now seen as “bad” reminds me of the USSR and various other totalitarian regimes. More importantly, if we begin tearing down these statues, and we rebrand multiple schools because their namesake (after the family who donated the land) is “Lynch,” where will this end? I imagine that at some point in the coming years, millions of regressives will be clamoring for all statues and monuments to the Founding Fathers to be removed, as they founded a nation “based on white supremacy” and some owned slaves. It’s clear this won’t stop until everything these people consider wrong is completely scrubbed from history, except when teaching its horrendous nature in the most exaggerated manner possible.

        • BJ
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          I would also note that not all of the people in these monuments were “bad.” Many of them, like General Erin Rommel of the Wehrmacht, were simply good people doing their jobs well, while they happened to be fighting for the wrong side. In war, one often doesn’t have a choice regarding sides, but rather is drafted to one or another based on geography. Even if the cause of one’s side is wrong, one can still be a good and noble person.

          (Still, many of these Southern figures were emphatically *not*)

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            So you’d be cool with a statue of Rommel standing guard at the portal to city hall in downtown Skokie?

            • Bethlenfalvy
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

              Anything else to offer than “argumentum ad Hitlerum” (or perhaps rather “ad Germaniam inflatum”)?

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

              Time and place for everything.

              I wouldn’t wear a ‘There is no god’ T-shirt to a Catholic funeral. Why would you put Rommel in Skokie?

              Outside the town hall in Heidenheim (his birthplace) – yes. He’s almost certainly the most notable person Heidenheim has ever produced.


              • Ken Kukec
                Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

                This is about presenting an apt analogy. Having a statue of a Wehrmacht general in a park in Skokie (home to Holocaust survivors and their descendants) is analogous to having a statue of a Confederate general in a park frequented by the descendants of slaves. Certainly, you see the aptness of that comparison, do you not?

                Would you be ok with both those situations, neither, or do you see some distinction between the two.

              • Bethlenfalvy
                Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

                Stop making moronic insinuations and improve your Latin. Where did I advocate a Rommel monument in Skokie?

                As for notable citizens of Heidenheim (I assume you have intimate knowledge of the town’s history): one might think of Georg Elser, amongst others (should you consider an assassination attempt on a German chancellor illicit and despicable, you’re of course entitled to your opinion).

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted August 23, 2017 at 11:17 pm | Permalink


                “Having a statue of a Wehrmacht general in a park in Skokie (home to Holocaust survivors and their descendants) is analogous to having a statue of a Confederate general in a park frequented by the descendants of slaves. Certainly, you see the aptness of that comparison, do you not?

                Would you be ok with both those situations, neither, or do you see some distinction between the two.”

                OK. I’d ask, “Is there some specific reason why Lee’s statue is in that particular place?”

                Given the information some commenters have posted that such statues were erected all over the place for political reasons, then my objections to ‘rewriting history’ are largely nullified in this particular case.


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

          I don’t think you can quote the USSR as a case of tearing down statues. Admittedly a lot of statues of Stalin (reportedly) came down, but after a brief trip through Russia I can vouch that there are large numbers of statues still in place, many commemorating pre-revolutionary figures such as generals and governors who I’m sure were from the aristocracy (and hence theoretically incompatible with the Communist revolution). I’d guess that, since they pre-dated Communism, they were just left standing.

          (Maybe someone with more direct knowledge can throw more light on this).


          • Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            I have no direct knowledge, but I understand in some places they’ve *also* erected statues to the victims. For example, I think there’s a statue of Solzhenitsyn near one of Stalin, with the explanations as well.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

              That wouldn’t surprise me.

              For what it’s worth, all the beautifully decorated Moscow metro stations, often with themes of ‘heroic workers’ or various revolutionaries, are still in place and carefully maintained.

              As an aside, in Moscow I was startled to see a few Confederate soldiers in full uniform (complete with rifles and bayonets). There were a few Union soldiers nearby. It was part of a street display of history – there was, naturally, a good contingent of Napoleonic soldiers. A cross between history and entertainment – there were stalls selling ‘ethnic’ trinkets and people could try at mediaeval games. (I saw almost exactly the same thing at Corfe Castle in Dorset, that monument to Cromwell’s destruction of history).

              They (in Moscow) were happily letting kids hold their rifles (complete with 18″ bayonets) – our paranoia with ‘safety’ doesn’t seem to have permeated there.


              • Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

                I’m pleased to hear the Metro art in Moscow is being maintained again (more or less) – Mario Bunge told me he’d been a few years after the fall of the USSR and it was not in good shape (relative to during the 1980s). I’ve always wanted to see some of it, as I am originally a Montrealer, another city with “Metro art”.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

                I think the Moscow public transport authority is quite proud of its stations. Many of them are ‘themed’ to commemorate personages or events – such as Mendeleyevskaya, Dostoyevskaya, Pushkinskaya, Barrikadnaya and so on, with architecture and murals, or mosaics, or marble to match.

                Paris has a few ‘themed’ Metro stations such as Louvre-Rivoli or the delightfully quirky Arts et Metiers (steampunk themed with a giant gearwheel poking out of the ceiling) but overall, it’s a walkover for Moscow.


          • Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            My Bulgaria is a former Eastern bloc country. After 1989, some monuments, e.g. a statue of Lenin in the center of the capital, were removed, and some of the victims of communism were erected. However, Russian bullying prevented the removal of the most grandiose and important monuments. My observation is that they serve their intended purpose, that is, cast their shadow over the growing generations and poison their minds. Americans have no superpower nearby to bully them. Why not relocate the relics of a shameful past to museums, where they belong?

            (As for erecting statues of black heroes next to Confederate generals: People as oppressed as the blacks in US history are not in a position to produce many unquestioned heroes. So the new statues may be as controversial as the old ones, e.g. Malcolm X or some slavery-era rebel whose name I’ve forgotten, who was ready to kill all whites indiscriminately.)

    • Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      We were in Bavaria a year and a half ago and traveled to the Eagles Nest. My youngest son wanted to go as his grandfather was on the invasion team. Many believed Hitler would be there at end. Beneath it were the great underground fortifications. The whole scene retained tomguide visitors into the past, a major part of the rethinking of fascism for the children. So can Gettysburg point out the evil that caused so many deaths

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely. But the same can’t be said of statutes of generals on horseback, in full Confederate regalia, striking noble poses in front of county courthouses.

  4. Luis Servin
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The issue is certainly complex. Here in Mexico there is one statue of Christopher Columbus that used to be the site of official government ceremonies every October 12th to celebrate our hispanic heritage. The spanish ambassador and mexican officials would carry out the celebrations. Now, it has to be protected from protestors that try to bring it down every year. Needless to say there isn’t a single monument to Cortés or any of the conquistadors, even though he is buried here in Mexico City. There was a half-hearted attempt some 30 years ago to celebrate our mixed race heritage with a statue of Cortés, his indian mistress (Malintzin) and their son Martin Cortés, who was supposed to symbolize the birth of the “mestizo” or mixed-race mexican nation. It was constantly defaced and had to be dismantled. I was therefore surprised when I visited other latinamerican countries, such as Perú, that there are actually monuments to the conquistadors, even real cruel ones like Pizarro.

    • loren russell
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Luis: There were gentle conquistadors?

      • Luis Servin
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        No. But Pizarro really stood out for his cruelty and ambition for the gold of the Incas. His statue in the main square of Lima was eventually moved to a less important place in Lima, but it still stands today.

        • Norbert Francis
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          These are interesting examples that Luis brings up from Mexico. When I lived there, it was interesting to me to note the absence of certain historical figures, like Malintzin. What he points out, a case of nationalism gone too far, is instructive for the United States. The issue of the Confederate statues is of course different. We should have started long ago to start moving them to museums and similar venues. An example is what Taiwan did with the statues of former dictator CKS. Now, all kinds of bad actors are trying to take advantage for narrow political gain. Other symbols will be next. I noticed that statues of Columbus are now being singled out for defacing and worse. Who’s next? Jefferson? Other presidents? (there will ALWAYS be a pretext).

      • Craw
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Bartolommeo de las Casas.

  5. Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    (The first link is broken, from here at least. The second works.)

  6. Simon Hayward
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    The idea of moving some of these monuments to places (such as museums) where they can be presented in historical context is one that has been kicked around a lot of late. I see no objection to this, certainly, some of these monuments are, as currently displayed, a source of grief to a segment of the population.

    I’m not entirely sure where one draws the line, I am reminded that civil war battlegrounds commemorate troops on both sides, as seems appropriate, and I would not advocate large scale changes to these spaces. Certainly the removal of the generals on one side only would be, to say the least, odd.

    • Harrison
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      I would say one objection is that we have no reason to believe the moral panic will cease once these statues have been relocated, because that’s simply not how moral panics ever work out. What’s more likely is that every concession made will further embolden regressives to make more and more demands.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        The greater “moral panic” seems to me to be on the side of those who declaim that removing the statues to museums — or taking Confederate flags down from state capitol buildings — effaces their “culture” and “heritage.”

        • Harrison
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

          It’s rather bold of someone to claim that upholding the status quo is a “panic.”

          Not that I have any love for Confederates. You could make a very clear case for why it’s acceptable to take down their statues and leave up those of Washington, Jefferson, even Jackson. Which is what others are doing.

          Where they err though is assuming good faith, that this will appease the regressive moral crusaders. It will not. Why should anyone think that it would?

          And since they’ll have to be told to get stuffed at some point anyway, better sooner than later.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

            So you don’t think anyone has a legitimate beef against statues built to celebrate the “Lost Cause” or to signal Jim-Crow obstinacy to federal civil rights? They’re all just regressive leftists who must be told to get stuffed?

            And you think the neo-Confederates and League of the South and former White Citizens’ Council-types complaining about the loss of their “heritage” and “culture” are legitimate historical preservationists?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            I tend to agree with you (but then that’s the point of view I had from the start).

            I don’t have any particular love for statues as such, but when they have come to be a landmark they should be left alone.

            I can’t think of anything more absurd than removing e.g. Nelson’s column. It was erected for his part in defeating the French fleet, not his political views.

            Part of the ambience of walking around Paris is the statues everywhere (including e.g. Simon Bolivar and Churchill – even though Churchill had his disagreements with the French. And Lamarck – as biologists should we remove him? And innumerable generals and dignitaries. The city would suffer a little if all were removed.


            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

              With Confederate statues were not talking about removing the insufficiently bien pensant; we’re talking about statues of people who committed treason against the United States by taking up arms for the purpose of preserving slavery.

              There’s an easily delineated bright-line there that separates the Robert E. Lees and the Jefferson Davises and the Nathan Bedford Forrests from the George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink


  7. Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Thing is…Lee commanded the army that, far and away, inflicted more death and destruction upon America and Americans than any other in our history. Yes, we fought in WWI and WWII and others, but only in the Civil War were our casualties even close to those suffered by Europeans and Asians in those wars.

    Would it be right to erect a statue of Himmler in a place of honor in Germany today? Should all of Russia’s statues of Stalin be preserved forever? Must Iraqis be dissuaded from tearing down portraits of Saddam Hussein?

    That there are snowflakes who would, as Drumpf noted, also tear down the Washington Monument because he owned slaves. We should ignore them just as we ignore Drumpf himself when he most seditiously heaps praise upon America’s greatest historical enemy.

    Washington and Jefferson and the rest were flawed, but they strove to improve equality as a general principle; and, in so doing, they created a framework that we have since built upon to surpass them.

    Lee and his Confederates sought to turn the clock back, to tear down what the Founders had built. The Rebellion was about preserving the white supremacy of the nation’s birth; Lincoln’s Union sought to mature the nation beyond its less-than-noble birth.

    Some of these statues belong in history museums, in properly-curated exhibits that establish the full context. But they have no place of honor amongst civilized people.



    • Randy schenck
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      I have changed my thinking on these civil war Confederate general statues after listening to Historian and some of the comments elsewhere. Lee or Jackson cannot be compared to Washington or Jefferson. The fact of slave ownership is not the reason we value the founders but we remember their flaws. Southern generals basically committed treason and fought to eliminate the United states as it was and our great admiration for Lincoln, who saved America belongs along side Washington as the individuals who allow us to be where we are today.

      • Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Well I’m pleased that somebody actually changed their mind based on the discussion on this site–and said it! Maybe it happens more often, but I don’t see people saying it.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I think the issue boils down to – What do the African Americans want to see. If the statues are nearly as offensive as the flag then take them down.

          • Kevin Leslie
            Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:32 am | Permalink

            I am not African-American and I find these memorials to a rancid cause highly offensive and as a child of the South always have.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          I have changed my mind on a few things around this issue, and refined my position a few more, thanks to various people, but especially, in this instance, Ben.

      • jay
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Actually secession is not the same as treason. Lincoln attacked (not condemning Lincoln–but the South originally had no desire to fight a war)

        Lee resigned from the US army because he would not attack his own state.

        There is talk (alas, unfortunately untrue) of California seceding. Would that make Brown a traitor?

        • GBJames
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          “Lincoln attacked”

          You mean when he ordered the attack on Fort Sumpter?

    • Historian
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Ben, I agree with you on this one. Jon Meacham, a respected historian and biographer of Jefferson, has an op-ed in the NYT why he believes Lee should go, but Washington should stay.

      He says:


      Was the person to whom a monument is erected on public property devoted to the American experiment in liberty and self-government? Washington and Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were. Each owned slaves; each was largely a creature of his time and place on matters of race. Yet each also believed in the transcendent significance of the nation, and each was committed to the journey toward “a more perfect Union.”


      I believe his analysis is a reasonable compromise regarding the monuments to people who were slaveholders. Although my respect for Jefferson has diminished in recent years when I learned that he was a particular nasty master, perhaps a case could be made for him being honored. For Lee, there is no case to be made. I feel uneasy honoring slaveholders, regardless of what other positive things they may have done. But, I will have to live with that uneasiness.

      • Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, nobody is without flaws — and, typically, the farther back in history, the greater the flaws. This is an observation consistent with Stephen Pinker’s about the overall arc of progress of society. Or, as Sam Harris puts it, our descendants will be as horrified about some of the things we take for granted as we are about our ancestors — and this is a good thing.

        As such, should we choose to honor the past — and we, Shirley, should — we should do so first and foremost with open eyes. Washington and Jefferson, by today’s standards, would be unacceptable in the extreme. But we should also consider their forebears, and recognize the great strides they took on the path we ourselves hope we continue to follow.

        The Confederates, as with the Nazis and Stalinists and the rest, sought to retreat.

        There are perils in progressivism, to be sure, but conservatism is much more likely to fall into the trap of regressivism. Such retreats are inevitably numbered amongst the most shameful of our history.



      • Filippo
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        “Was the person . . . devoted to the American experiment in liberty and self-government? Washington and Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were.”

        Do you agree that Native Americans have a legitimate beef regarding their historical mistreatment – the Cherokee in particular with Jackson (Trail of Tears and all that)? Or does health care via the federal Indian Health Service (if that’s still its name) make up for all that?

        “Each owned slaves; each was largely a creature of his time and place on matters of race.”

        Should 18th and 19th century abolitionists have been more flexible and accommodationist in their position on slavery, it being the “time and place” it was? Regarding the U.S. conquest and subjugation of the Philippines, was Mark Twain’s opposition to McKinley and Roosevelt about the matter similarly, apparently, less legitimate? (Amuricun military personnel referred to Filipinos as “n—–s.”)

        And just when did a given “time” end? At what moment in the past could one no longer use the “time and place” excuse to justify owning slaves, mistreating women and minorities, imperialist expansion?

        “Yet each also believed in the transcendent significance of the nation, and each was committed to the journey toward “a more perfect Union.”

        From the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union . . . .” Of course the “People” were white, propertied men, many if not most of whom owned other human beings.

        I wish I could read somewhere that Washington, Jefferson, Madison, et al, if no more than once per year, gave a slave a day off and took his/her place, sweating and grunting under a weary day’s labor, so as not to lower the efficiency and productivity of the plantation.

    • Posted August 22, 2017 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you, Ben. Well said.

    • drew
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I’m pretty much in agreement here as well.

      The public monuments to the Civil War that, I think, should be retained are the battlefield memorials (not the statues to the generals on the battlefields but the battlefields themselves). Because, like Auschwitz and Manzanar, they can serve to remind us of the horrors of the conflict and preserve the sense of the ultimate and needless loss of life, without glorifying the cause of the Confederacy.

      The statues don’t do that, the intent behind their erection was purely to glorify the Confederacy. Their removal does not impact, in any meaningful way, the remembrance of history, but it does remove constant reminders of separation and segmentation of the population whose only purpose is to reinforce the same.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Besides the battlefields themselves, there are many monuments at the sites that identify places where various events took place… where this or that regiment was positioned, and so forth. These are invaluable for people who are learning battle history. I’ve profited immensely from this sort of monument.

        Most of these, I believe, were placed by survivors of the war. They mark history.

  8. Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I had this discussion with my wife this weekend.

    And I have mixed feelings about it.

    On the Stars & Bars: I am totally agin’ it. Take it off all public symbols and buildings. It is a true symbol of advocacy of slavery. (I highly recommend The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, a superb (Pulitzer Prize winner) single-volume history of the US Civil War..)

    Statues of individuals? That’s more complex.

    Lee had to decide whether to stick with the USA or go with the Confederacy and was torn about it. He ended up sticking with his home state of Virginia.

    Many of the generals were fighting their West Point classmates.

    How does one decide about individuals? Jefferson and Washington were slave owners. (Sure they did lots of other things too.) I think the “where does this stop?” question is a valid one.

    I agree with removing such statues from major public spaces (capitol grounds, public squares, public universities). A think museums are a more appropriate places for these statues.

    • Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Lee had to decide whether to stick with the USA or go with the Confederacy and was torn about it. He ended up sticking with his home state of Virginia.

      Many of the generals were fighting their West Point classmates.

      Nobody was more German than Hitler, Russian than Stalin, Iraqi than Saddam Hussein. And today’s Germans and Russians are (largely) the grandchildren of Nazis and Stalinists; most Iraqi adults alive today voted for Hussein in at least one election.

      Lee chose to fight for the right to preserve and expand the South’s “peculiar institution,” the brutal chattel slavery of those whose skin was dark. He made the same choice as did Germans who staffed the gas chambers, Russians who ran the gulags, Iraqis who gassed the Kurds.

      Which is why he and his Confederates deserve no place of honor in our modern society. One might have sympathy for him, as one might for any person; but his decisions should garner no respect and the utmost contempt.

      That animus, of course, does not fall upon the modern descendants of Confederates…unless, of course, they choose to continue the fight. In which case they should be met with the same reaction from Americans as a Nazi would from Germans, a Stalinist from Russians, a Baathist from Iraqis.




      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Stalin was actually Georgian (not the grit-eating kind), but he overcompensated for that through zealous allegiance to Mother Russia, so yeah.

        • Craw
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

          And Hitler was born in Austria.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, it’s said that the two greatest scams Austria ever pulled were convincing the world that Beethoven was Viennese and Hitler was German. 🙂

      • tjeales
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        When I see the arguments that Lee was basically a good guy on the wrong side I think of Rommel and how we might feel about statues of him. He was at worst ignorant of the Nazi extremism or even actively against it and was regarded by many as an honourable and worthy adversary…but a statue? and all that a statue entails? No. Same for Lee, in a museum but not out in a park as if he was a hero of a righteous cause.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

          If someone wanted to erect a statue of Rommel in his home town – wherever that was – I certainly wouldn’t object. (I’d want to keep it low-key so it didn’t attract neo-Nazis but that’s a practical objection rather than an ethical one).

          It seems to me that if there’s a statue to Eisenhower or Montgomery somewhere (I assume there is) there should, by equity, be a statue to Rommel somewhere.


          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            How ’bout in a park near a Jewish neighborhood, or standing sentry at the Reichstag? How about if it was commissioned by Nazi sympathizers to celebrate their “heritage”?

          • Bethlenfalvy
            Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            Rommel was forced to commit suicide after his home village of Herrlingen had been surrounded by an SS detachment.

            So, why should Nazis (unless you identify Nazis with Germans of the 1933–45 era) be so eager to venerate him?

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

              You are missing (or ignoring) the key reason that makes the Lee/Rommel analogy useful — both were highly respected military commanders, with many praiseworthy personal qualities, who fought nobly on behalf of some of the most ignoble causes in history.

              Lee’s praiseworthy qualities have been cited as a reason for keeping his statutes in place. The purpose of the comparison is to clarify the underlying principles — not to get down in the weeds of the details of a particular battle.

              • Bethlenfalvy
                Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

                For appropriate praise please consult your prof.

                I don’t think that throwing around as many WW II terms / Wehrmacht members as possible (von Rundstedt, Panzer, Buchenwald, Dachau, Siegfried Line, Rommel, Reichstag, Mengele, Hitler etc. pp.) adds value to an argument.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

              I suspect many neo-Nazis would reason no further than “Rommel, great German general under Hitler, therefore on our side” – completely overlooking any inconvenient wrinkles in the story.


        • Posted August 23, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

          “… Lee was basically a good guy on the wrong side”

          I think this is fairly accurate.

          To be clear: He chose wrongly. He was on the wrong side of history and morality. But I think equating him with Stalin or Hitler isn’t correct either.

          As you can see from my original note, I think such statues should not be in public spaces but rather in museums.

          This is part of the evolving Zeitgeist; and it’s a good thing.

          My concern is the (apparently substantial) push from the Left to erase history in favor of their Approved Version™.

          I encouraged my Mom (of Deep South heritage (I’m not)) to read The Battle Cry of Freedom. She had bought the whole “States’ Rights” line fed to her from infancy. (It was States’ Rights alright: The States’ rights to legalize enslaving people of African (and other) descent, nothing less.) After she read it, she said, basically, “The South, they really were shits weren’t they?!” This was a major revolution in her thinking/awareness.

      • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Lee’s comment upon being offered command of the entire Union Army, 18-Apr-1861:

        I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four million slaves in the South I would sacrifce them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?

        And on 20-Apr-1861, when he resigned from the US Army:

        [My resignation] would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from from a service to which I have devoted all the best years of my life & all the ability I possessed. During the whole of that time, more than 30 years, I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors, & the most cordial friendship from my companions … I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your [Gen. Winfield Scott’s]kid consideration, & your name & fame will always be dear to me.

        In a letter of the same time to his sister:

        Now we are in a state of war which will yield to nothing. [I can apprehend] no necessity for this state of things, and would have forborne and pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, reall or supposed, [I am unable] to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State (with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed) I hope I may never be caled upon to draw my sword.”

        As I said, below, Lee chose wrongly; but I don’t think it was easy; and I don’t think it was as black and white as many today make it out.

        [I hope it doesn’t need saying that I think slavery was completely wrong.]

  9. Robert Estrada
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I think one large factor in deciding who to honor and who not to is whether they were trying to move the world forward. Washington and Jefferson were. Lee, Davis and the confederates were not. no one of us will ever be perfect but regression from social progress is a bad thing.

  10. Andrew David
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think a statue of Rosa Parks next to General Lee would suffice. For a quick gut-check, imagine a statue of Mengele next to Oskar Schindler.

    There’s a qualitative difference between remembering historical figures and revering them. Revering both the heroes and the villains is not a sensible compromise.

  11. Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Who is calling for the destruction of the statues and the erasing of the confederate history? Removing these commemorations to treason and slavery from the public square is not erasure…put them in a museum, display them on private property it’s one reason we value property but don’t expect people, especially those whose ancestors suffered because of what they fought to retain, to value them as more than a disgusting tribute to a bunch of racists is unconscionable…i value the contributions outside they may have provided but those aren’t whats being commemorated. They were erected in response to white supremacists rise in the 20s, again in relation to civil rights advancements 30-40 years later…thats says alot

  12. Christopher
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    The argument has been put forth by a few columnists, one of which was interviewed on NPR last weekend goes as follows: Many of these statues were put up in the 1920’s and 1930’s as a reaction to black Americans attempts to gain basic civil rights. It had little to do with honoring the Civil War soldiers and everything to do with subjugation. The argument is a compelling one for me, as it takes into consideration the history of the period during which they were installed rather than the current claim of “honoring the dead”. This was at a time of klan revivalism, including several known and many more suspected klan members who served in the US congress. I’m sorry I cannot recall the program but it was on last Saturday morning during Scott Simon’s show I believe.

    • Andy
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, exactly!
      I also heard that same program. Although I cannot recall the precise details, you have summarized it the same way I remember.
      I think that’s important: Many of the statues were deliberately put up as a symbol of oppression. It would be a little like now putting up a flattering statue of Hitler, perhaps next to a synagogue, and claiming that the reason is purely due to an interest in European history…

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Fancy some historians suggesting to those that claim we are erasing history that perhaps we should consider, um, the actual history of the statues.

      Lee had a choice between his state and his country. Nothing is more disloyal to the principle of this nation than putting your state ahead of your country. We aren’t called the United States for nothing.

  13. Teresa Carson
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    In the Deep South, some of the informational plaques are what make the statues even more disturbing than they would be otherwise. At the University of Georgia, the statues say that the men they are honoring fought in the War of Northern Aggression — known to some of us as the Civil War. Until I went to Georgia, I had no idea that there was another name for the Civil War. And keep in mind that most of these statues were erected long after the Civil War (some in the 1960s), and they were put in place to intimidate and to remind anyone who needed reminding, that white folks were in charge.

  14. Walt Jones
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    When I was young, the statues provided an introduction to the Civil War. My opinion of their educational value, however, changed last week when I heard a historian explain that most of the statues were erected between 1890 and 1920 and between 1955 and 1964. Not so coincidentally, those periods align with Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement.

    • Craw
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      I fully agree with the ones from 1955. The earlier ones are actually not so clear. That was a time where the CW was living memory. There was also a national movement of commemoration and reconciliation, with statues rapidly going up in that era in the North too.

      • Walt Jones
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        The historian, Dan Grossman, did not say much about the Jim Crow era statues. Given the shorter lifespans in the 19th century, it was not necessarily living memory, and either way the statues were built to commemorate people fighting for the ideals of the Confederacy, which were not unlike those of the Jim Crow era. The good old days being honored were good for only a segment of the population, those who we’re at that time trying to maintain their position.

  15. Richard Jones
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I agree the effort to remove Confederate statues is misdirected. Concentrating on improvements in educational, employment and voting rights is far more important. Education on the Jim Crow and pro-slavery, anti civil rights history is important, but focusing on monument removal suggests the symbolic revolution is more important than the actual changes.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Educate the people and they will let the statues decay without meaning. So one day, a child asks his parent, what’s this statue for. I have no idea, some guy on a horse. Done. Racism removed.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        And everyone gets a pony?

        • Kevin
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          By the time racism is evaporated it will be robot ponies.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          I know there’s a pony down there somewhere; we’ll just have to keep shoveling shit till we find it.

    • Historian
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Removing the statues and improving education are not mutually exclusive.

      • Craw
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        Well, they are educational in an odd way, some of them. They are part of how people felt at the time, during Jim Crow. A monument to Bedford Forrest is a tangible reminder of the bigotry behind its erection. Phrase it that way and I bet you see more support for taking it down!

  16. Tulse
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    The statues are not part of US history — many are relatively recent. The people and events they note/honour are part of US history, but no one is suggesting that the existence of the Civil War be removed from history books.

  17. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Erecting status to Civil Rights leaders would be a good idea to balance the decades of Confederate generals being honored with statues put up during the Civil Rights fight and the fights for the right to vote for blacks as a fuck you to the supreme court and the federal government which passed and upheld the Civil Rights Act. Taking down those statues seems like an important symbolic act especially in the era of a president who stole the office with the help of a foreign kleptocrat and the unwavering support of Christian Dominionist pro-slavery civil war sore losers.

  18. DrBeydon
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I have always felt that Lee, Jackson, etc. were traitors, and that it is inappropriate to have statues of them on public land, or to have public buildings named after them. I understand that there was a period where it was important to forgive and forget in the aid of healing. That’s long past now, though. If we did away with all of them, that would hardly be erasing them from history.

    Likewise, the Confederate flag is offensive to me as a symbol of rebellion against democracy (since secession was an attempt to overturn a free election). I have no patience for people who try to paint the Lost Cause as in any way noble. Certainly, Confederate flags should never be flown on public land or displayed (outside of museums) in public buildings.

    I do believe in freedom of speech, though, so I accept that people have a right to their private monuments and displays. But I also have a right to think, and to say, that they are morons, racists, assholes and un-American.

    I confess myself to being ambivalent about memorials at places like Gettysburg.

  19. Craw
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I am conflicted too. I do worry that this is what the taliban do to Buddhas.

    I think we need to remember the difference between memorials built when the CW was still a fresh wound, and later ones. The former were part of attempts at reconciliation. (That includes most monuments built early in the 20th century in fact, but spaces precludes an explanation). If it went up in 1955 it was just the opposite.

    Whatever “we” do it needs open discussion, and needs to be done openly, not in the dead of night furtively. And it cannot be just “screw the Trump voters”.

  20. Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m bemused by the spasmodic urgency on the left to remove all these statues all of a sudden. They’ve been around for ages, but now we can’t endure them another minute?

    Also typical for SJWs to fixate on symbolism.

    • Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Eh, you’ve got your history and current affairs confused.

      There’s been opposition to these monuments (and Confederate battle flags and…) ever since they were erected as a form of racist intimidation during the Civil Rights Era.

      As racism has become increasingly disfavored, successes in removing them has similarly increased.

      Drumpf has dramatically emboldened the racists, and they’re the ones now demonstrating spasmodic urgency in stemming the tide of removal.

      If you’re not American, it might help you to understand that, not that long ago — just a couple decades? — there was very strong opposition to the creation of a national holiday remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. And those standing in opposition were doing so for openly racist reasons (almost always prefaced, to be fair, with the words, “I’m not a racist, but”). Those arguing that we should “preserve our heritage” by keeping statues of war criminals and those who committed the worst crimes against humanity in America’s history in places of honor…they’re the same crowd….




      • Walt Jones
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        I’ve always found that anything prefaced by “not racist” is racist.

      • johnw
        Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink


      • Posted August 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Don’t patronize me. Cheers.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Let’s see if we can’t clear up some of that bemusement for you: The people most aggrieved by these statues were prevented from so much as registering to vote for a century after the Civil War ended (essentially by the very same people who had these statues erected). They have only recently gained a sufficient foothold on real political power (in the city halls and state assemblies where such decisions are made) to be able to do something about it.

      • Posted August 23, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Black have “only recently” gained “real political power”? Don’t be ridiculous.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          There were more black people killed in controversial police shooting last year than have served in the United States senate in its entire 240 year history — 10 (which includes the two from the Reconstruction era and three incumbents elected in the last five years, with as gap of 75 years when there were none). I was a teenager before the first black mayor was elected to a major US city. Blacks were prohibited from voting in the South until passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and they are still woefully underrepresented in positions of political power — particularly in the Southern states where these statues stand.

          When is it you think black folk first achieved such substantial political power in the South, and just how much do you think they have now?

          Don’t be obtuse.

          • hugh7
            Posted August 24, 2017 at 4:15 am | Permalink

            And you’d be shocked to learn how recently black-white intermarriage was allowed in some states.

            In the south, June 12, 1967!

            Remember the word “Miscegenation”?

      • Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Well, the country until recently had a black President… and the representative democracy, central and local, did not move a finger against those statues… and suddenly all who come out to publicly defend them are some Nazi flag-brandishing lowlife. I admit I am confused.

  21. Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I feel all over the place about removing these statues.

    One influence is that people who deeply hate and fear the U.N. removed the U.N. flag from Oregon’s Korean War memorial so often that its flagpole is now left bare. The offended people were trying hard to rewrite history, or the memory of it. (The U.S. really did fight under U.N. leadership in Korea.) I think that’s wrong.

    I would support statues of famous confederates in locations that have a historical link to them personally — hometowns, battlefields, etc. The other statues, especially those set up from 1890 onwards, I’d like to see removed.

    Statues of anonymous civil war soldiers (and soldiers of other wars!) seem OK to me everywhere — the soldiers did come from everywhere, and the war wasn’t really their choice.

    Setting up statues of civil rights leaders seems a great idea to me, whether they’re placed by statues of confederates or not.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s a very balanced view.

      My objections to ‘rewriting history’ by removing statues do somewhat evaporate if the statue was erected in more recent times and for political motives.

      Btw, I find it ironically amusing that this hatred of the UN is shared by two groups – a few toxic regimes engaged in essentially wars of terrorism, and various ‘patriots’ in the midwest.


  22. GBJames
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    There are two different kinds of Civil War monuments. There are those that record events, and those involved in the events, at battlefields and other significant places. Many of these were installed because of the activism of veterans after the war. These are valuable historic things that tell history.

    Most of the CSA monuments in question were installed later, as part of the creation of the Lost Cause Myth, the rise of the KKK, Jim Crow laws, and the fight against Civil Rights. These are not bits of Civil War history. Stone Mountain, the Confederate version of Mount Rushmore, was completed in 1963. These were (and are) rallying points for segregationists. They are symbols of oppression. The heritage they represent is one that should have no role in modern life. Ridding ourselves of these is long overdue.

    Monuments of particular artistic value should be maintained in museum settings.

    • Historian
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Understanding what the Lost Cause myth is provides an explanation of how pro-Confederate propaganda won over the nation (including the North) for close to 100 years after the end of the war. It also explains the significance of the statues and how the case can be made that after the war ended and the termination of Reconstruction in 1877 that the South actually won the war. The Encyclopedia of Virginia has a nice article on the Lost Cause.


      • loren russell
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        Yes. My 1950s American history textbooks, in grades 4, 8, and 11, all taught the Lost Cause version of the war — an account which said that Abolitionists like John Brown caused the war. But [and I found this odd even as a little kid], the war wasn’t about slavery but States Rights. Lee and Jackson were both better generals and better Christians than their Union counterparts. And Reconstruction? All you needed to pass the test was to recite “scalawag” “carpet bagger”, “ignorant black legislators” …these texts and the lessons in them were standard issue in the northern-tier state of Washington before the Civil Rights era.

  23. karaktur
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    It is reassuring that there are comments from people as conflicted as I am about this. How about we just remove the humans and leave the horses?

  24. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    God forbid we should dismantle the 25′ statue outside Nashville of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the brilliant Confederate cavalry commander who founded the Ku Klux Klan, unveiled in 1998 by sculptor-cum-lawyer Jack Kershaw, whose clients included MLK assassin James Earl Ray. Be a shame to deny the League of the South that monument to its “heritage” and “culture.”

    Let’s not overlook how much of this Confederate memoria was commissioned after Reconstruction, as a thumb in the eye to the victorious North, by “Redeemers” intent on advancing their “Lost Cause” narrative — and, later, by die-hard segregationists as a symbol of resistance to the civil-rights movement as Jim Crow crumbled.

    Personally, when it comes to Stone Mountain in Georgia, I’d like to call in some hard, pipe-hitting brothers, arm ’em with cold chisels and jack-hammers, let get medieval on their granite asses. But I’d settle for surrounding the bas-reliefs with statues of slaves, make the whole megillah a wailing wall for the South’s “peculiar institution.”

    Let’s move these statues and other celebrations of the Confederacy to museums and cemeteries and battlefields where they belong, out of the town squares and parks and public spaces where they’re an affront to our fellow citizens whose ancestors were subjected to the bondage of chattel slavery.

    • mordacious1
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      That statue is on private property I believe…1st Amendment.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:23 am | Permalink

        I was going to ask if the 1st Amendment applied to any statues – or not…


        • mordacious1
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:58 am | Permalink

          In most of these cases, no. If the city puts a statue in a park and now wants to remove it, that’s not a violation. If it’s on private property and the government wants to remove it after many years, it might be.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:42 am | Permalink

        Yeah, well, when the ugly monstrosity was first built, a bigoted old bollweevil state senator got the government to remove trees and shrubberies from public lands so it could be seen from the interstate. Seems the least that could be done for the commonweal is to cover the racist eyesore back up.

        • mordacious1
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

          If they want to plant trees between the eyesore and I-65, let them. I don’t see a problem with that.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 1:24 am | Permalink

          They chopped down trees? That changes everything. Somebody wants to go Taliban on that statue, hand me the detonator!


      • loren russell
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:44 am | Permalink

        …WAS private property — it was acquired by the state of Georgia in 1958 and is now in Stone Mountain State Park. Aside from the Confederate figures defacing the magnificent monolith, it was the site for the reorganization of the KuKluxKlan in 1915.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          That’s another statue of the first grand wazoo (or whatever the Klan calls its head-Aryan-in-charge). The states of the former Confederacy are thick with them.

  25. murali
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    It is not so much the memorials that cause offence. It is the fact that the racist elements are still there. That gives the statues a contemporary relevance.

  26. tubby
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    The ones being removed or threatened with destruction need to be picked up by the Smithsonian and preserved. People 50 years from now will need to see them to better understand the times in which they were erected, why they stood so long, what’s going on now.

  27. Hempenstein
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    First, here’s a defense of Gen’l Lee by a black guy in the Wash Post from 1999, that turned up in my FB feed.

    Second, I have a gut aversion to instant moral indignation, and this seems to me to be an instance of that – perhaps that dovetails with PCC[E]’s reaction(?)

    Third, I wonder how many vehemently opposed to the statues also live where they’re located? I lived in Richmond for a couple years, where there’s no shortage of them. They always seemed to be pretty well ignored – they weren’t gathering points for racists. The only reference to one that I remember was a friend who lived there giving directions: “Just go up Monument (Ave) and turn right at the statue of AP Hill.”

    Reason for wondering #3 is I have an old friend from Indiana who is vehemently in favor of removing all such statues. But then when he came down to Schwixon a few wks ago and saw a white guy on the sidewalk he exclaimed, in all seriousness, “John! You have a white neighbor!” I’ve always suspected that one of the reasons I seldom see him down there is because of the demographics.

    And then there’s a story I distinctly remember reading in the second or so grade. It’s the only thing I distinctly remember from then, and if anyone could tell me the actual book/story I’d be grateful: These two ancient spinster sisters live with their equally ancient brother in a house they’ve lived in all their life. One day, one of the sisters goes down to the basement and sees a double-bladed axe stuck in the ceiling beam. She’d never seen it before but worries that it could hurt someone so she tries to pull it down. No go. She gets her sister and they both heave on it. Nope. So they get the brother who puts all his might into it, the axe releases, hits him in the head, killing him. The moral of the story is some things are best left alone.

    There are three people in Charlottesville who would in retrospect probably have rather that things had been left alone.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Robert E. Lee did not pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America; nor to the republic for which it stands. He fought against one nation under God, he fought for division, he fought against liberty and justice for all.

      Whether or not he was a nice man who later saw the error of his ways is not really relevant to me. He was not an honorable American.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Those three people would probably even more have rather that their town hadn’t been despoiled by the Nazis and the Klan in the first place.

      And the moral of your story about things best left alone would be lost on the guy who developed gangrene for the want of treatment a suppurating snake bite.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      The people of Charlottesville decided, through their elected officials, decided to take down the Lee statue. Does your gut aversion supersede their wishes?

      • Hempenstein
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        “of Charlottesville” is, I suspect, the key issue. I don’t know any details on what led up to the referendum or whatever it was called, but I do know enough about the demographics of Charlottesville to venture a guess.

        I think the town’s long been on the civilized side of the spectrum, but in the last couple decades there’s been a distinct influx of money. Movie stars and so forth. I know an artisinal baker here in Pittsburgh who moved from C’ville, where he’d been for a dozen or so years because he could no longer afford to live there. Whenever there’s an influx of new people, there’s bound to be animosity. There are plenty of examples of that in my own little re-emerging rustbelt community.

        Anyway, I suspect that this movement in C’ville started when one of the new folks said to another, “Have you SEEN what they HAVE down in the middle of town?”

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          So the votes of Yankee arrivistes count for less? I don’t think that’s how democracy works.

          • Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

            The “still fighting the civil war” sorts have a name for this, IIRC – isn’t that what a “carpetbagger” is? (This shows it is, alas, a common thing.)

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:23 am | Permalink

      Second, I have a gut aversion to instant moral indignation,Me too. I live in the UK so I have no close view of the racism/statues USA issue, although we have had similar bouts of moral indignation about statues in the UK. I have suggested adding honest explanatory plaques to statues rather than removing the statue.

      I view the situation rather like ‘free speech’ – once you start banning offensive statues it leads on to censoring history books and finally burning books… but there will always be people dedicated to generating offence.

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:23 am | Permalink

        blockquote went AWOL. Sorry.

  28. Ken Pidcock
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I have never thought that any of the United States should be honoring any of the leaders of the Confederacy. As a child, visiting the Gettysburg battlefield, I was perplexed by the monuments to Confederate units. My parents explained, truthfully, that it was a kind of appeasement to promote national unity. At some point, we need to be united in confronting the truth of history. Frederick Douglass in 1871:

    We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice. I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my “right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,” if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.

  29. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Re: millions of people who have been abused by one church or another.

    In the early days of the Protestant Reformation, several of the more radical groups (I believe Anabaptists) did in fact tear down lots of saint’s statues. (Martin Luther was against this.)

  30. Craw
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Robert Lee removed


  31. Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Even a real “white supremacist” doesn’t nececessarily “hate” anybody. He just thinks his race is best. Maybe he hates, maybe he does not. But those antifa people sure do. The purest examples of livid hatred these days come from the Left.

    So Orwellian. The most vicious “haters” protesting against “hatred” by throwing urine-filled balloons at people. Do they even think about this stuff? Or are they mentally ill — hysterics? Beyond logic? I think the latter.

    Soldiers are honored for being great soldiers, not for having moral values esteemed by people who will live in the future. We honor the Spartans, name college teams after them, and they were slave-driving baby-killers and child molesters. But that’s not what we honor them for, obviously.

    The Left has gone nuts. They hate everybody who doesn’t perfectly agree with them. Who can live that way? What do people like that do to a society? They are helping to quickly destroy this one.

    I am thankful we still have a few people like Jerry Coyne on the Left who have not succumbed to hysteria and hatred — who can still think. But soon, I am afraid, he will become like the rational, socially sane Muslim, not yet destroyed by his religion, who must keep quiet for fear of what his fellow-religionists will do to him if he speaks up.

    Statues? All this hysteria over statues? Such anger over “white supremacists” who are tiny in number, largely ignored and have little or no effect on society at large? But, of course, they refuse to bend the knee. That’s what really makes the haters hate.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:25 am | Permalink


      • Dave
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

        I agree. For the reasons many have oulined in this thread, I think there are valid reasons for removing at least some of the neo-confederate monuments put up long after the Civil War, although not nearly enough to justify the current wave of hysteria. However, I think it’s also a mistake to believe that removing statues of Lee, Jackson et al. will satisfy the new self-appointed cultural commissars. They will surely go after Washington and Jefferson next. Even Lincoln said things about black people that would get him labelled a “white supremacist” today – maybe he should go too?

        Here in the UK, we’ve already seen the first stirrings of this virus crossing the Atlantic. Last year it was “RhodesMustFall”. This week we have a nutter in the Guardian wanting to remove Nelson. It’s only a matter of time before Churchill and Queen Victoria (both arch-“imperialists”)are in their sights. Members of the SJW cult live in a constant competitive quest for ever-higher levels of moral indignation and virtue-signalling outrage. No figure from the past, and certainly no white male, can ever match up to their exacting standards. If they’re allowed to have their way they’ll carry on until all visible symbols of the past have been purged of any taint of ideological impurity, even if society is torn apart in the process. Then we really will be living in Oceania.

        • DiscoveredJoys
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

          Indeed, once all the ‘bad guys’ have been erased from history who will be next? Martin Luther King jr. for his alleged infidelities? Karl Marx because he fathered an illegitimate child? Perhaps we might even get around eventually to Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao?

          • Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            As a survivor of communism, I’d object to monuments glorifying Marx.

        • Historian
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Imagine you are descended from a slave that was raped, whipped, and sold by a master, who viewed her as nothing more than property that he could do with at his whim. As the enlightened fellow you are, certainly your attitude would be “let bygones, be bygones. That was a long time ago. As for all those statues and monuments honoring the master – well, he did some good things, so who am I to complain?” On the other hand, perhaps you can’t imagine what it was like to be a slave.

          But, you have nothing to fear. Monuments to Washington and Jefferson will not be going away any time soon.

          • Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

            I am quite sure that, as an American white male, I am also descended from slaves who were “raped, whipped and sold”. And perhaps from some masters along the way, as well. But most people, in the past, were pretty low on the totem pole and people in general were cruel.

            I have no attitude about any of that at all. That’s the way it was back then. I am very fortunate to live where and when I do. As a middle class American, I live better than s king of old, especially when you consider such things as antibiotics and pain-killers.

            Do any of these statues in question honor “the master”? No, they honor the soldier, the leader. Personally, I have never gotten very excited about statues, one way or the other. But I know they honor something believed to be great that somebody did, not everything they did.

            • Dave
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

              “Imagine you are descended from a slave that was raped, whipped, and sold by a master, who viewed her as nothing more than property that he could do with at his whim.”

              Slavery (and every other form of violence and oppression human beings are capable of) was practised in the tribal kingdoms of Africa long before Europeans started trading there. Some (perhaps many, who knows?) of the modern USian black population are likely to be descended from ancestors who themselves owned slaves, or at least belonged to cultures that took it for granted as a social institution.

              I think what many people find irritating about this modern statue removal/historical apology mania is the unspoken assumption that black Africans lived in some kind of peaceful utopia until the evil white man showed up. Obviously, the existence of indigenous African slavery doesn’t justify or excuse the Euro-American variety, but it would help if the SJW crowd could accept that slavery was something that almost every pre-modern culture practised. What made it distinctive in the Euro-American case was its employment in the service of industrialised agriculture as part of a trans-oceanic trade network. The scale of it was huge, but only for about 200 years or so – a relatively short time in historical context. And of course, Europeans and their descendants were just about the only cultures in history to voluntarily abolish slavery on moral grounds, and then persuade or force the rest of the world to follow suit. The muslim attitude can be seen by the fact that they restore slavery when given the chance to do so in a sufficiently “pure” Islamic state, ie. ISIS-held territory in Syria/Iraq. But you won’t hear the statue-smashers saying anything about that.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

                The narrator from Randy Newman’s “Sail Away” couldn’t have said it better, Dave.

                At least here in American they didn’t have to run through the jungle and scuff up their feet, huh?

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

              Imagine that the statue is of someone who committed treason for the express purpose of keeping your ancestors in bondage. Imagine further that it was erected by people seeking to celebrate that effort as a means of keeping you and the other descendants of slaves from exercising the full rights of citizenship. Now imagine that statue sits sentry in front of a courthouse where you and the other slave descendants must pass to petition your government for justice.

              Do you think you might feel different then?
              Even if you wouldn’t personally, can you see your way clear to understanding why some of your fellow citizens might?

            • Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

              I am Scots and Irish in some parts of my family, and lower class (originally) to boot. I am *sure* that my ancestors were the victim of racism and classism, given all of that. I *would* have a problem with glorifying the treason of a hypothetical (say) Englishman who abused them, if there was such a statue somewhere.

  32. Richard Portman
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    While we are talking about those old statues, think about this- i dont want Columbus Day to be called that anymore. Think about it. It is our only government holiday in October. It is the time of year we call “Indian Summer”. I’d like to celebrate something a little more than the memory of Cristobal Colon. No offense folks he was a brave man.
    Just saying there are other points of view.

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Nevertheless, he contributed to you being there.

  33. Hrafn
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I think an important aspect of the Confederate statues is that they represent not history simpliciter, but a revisionist attempt to rewrite history, during a period (‘Jim Crow’) when an attempt was being made to (partially) reverse the outcome of the Civil War.

    I say take a whole bunch of them, and plonk them together behind a very large and obvious plaque setting them in their proper, Jim Crow White Supremacist, context.

  34. Tumara Baap
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s time to watch Seven Years a Slave again. Confederate statues *glorify* such a way of life. Don’t destroy the statues. Just move them to a museum, preferably one with a dank depressing room called the Hall of Horrors. This is really simple. Germany does something similar with Nazi symbols.
    It’s one thing to be unable to untether oneself fully from the era one lives in, and yet have an honorable and progressive vision for the future. This is not at all what the Confederate South was. They were the embodiment of pure terror and evil and fought the United States to keep things that way. That their statues were ever put up (many when the KKK was ascendant) is a friggin joke.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      I think you might be shorting 12 Years a Slave five years here. 🙂

    • Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink


  35. Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    I was wondering why the monuments were erected about 60 years after the fact, and found this article.

    There were two waves of placing monuments: the “first wave came in the 1870s and 1880s and those monuments were typically placed in graveyards as symbols of mourning”, then the “next wave came in the 1910s and ’20s and were aimed at public squares”, and at the next generations, “funders and backers of these monuments are very explicit that they are requiring a political education and a legitimacy for the Jim Crow era and the right of white men to rule.”

    Not all monuments were created equal. In my view, these second monuments are — if re-interpreted — a symbol of the racist south that cannot let go of its questionable past. They need to go into a museum, and explained in this light, rather than being accepted as seemingly genuine monuments after the war, to remember death and losses.

    These momuments were also partially mass produced, perhaps they count as revisionist propaganda. They should not be compared to artifacts, or art.

  36. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    The statues are removed in a democratic process, and it is unlikely all will be removed despite the troubling trend of asking for complete erasure. Likely some will end up in a museum – illustrating the Secession celebration period – where they belong if nowhere else.

    As a side note, a community environment is seldom static. Protecting individual statues as a principle goes only so far.

  37. Tim
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    If statues were put up to civil rights leaders, how long would it be before the Social Justice crowd found reasons to object to them and call for them to be destroyed?

    We’ve already seen MLK denounced for not being “Black Power” enough, and Germaine Greer denounces for being the wrong type of feminist.

    There is nobody so pure in heart that the SJWs (or should we call them AltLeft now?)could not find a way to denounce them the moment they became prominent enough to be honoured by the people.

  38. jay
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Remember only a few years ago, we atheists would point to works like Jefferson’s bible to show that it was not just Christianity at the foundation of the nation.

    Now that’s become a very risky argument. Hell, there are motions now to kick him out of his monument.

  39. Craw
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Gandhi, gone http://time.com/4521241/ghana-gandhi-statue-removing/

  40. jay
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Ooh th CRAZY.

    ESPN removed Asian football announcer named Robert Lee , because.. offense possible


    • Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      This is utterly insane.

      • jay
        Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        I liked this response tweet:

        “So just to clarify, Robert Lee, Asian play by play man, & Robert E. Lee, Confederate General, are different people: “

        • Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          I can totally see where there could be confusion. *facepalm*

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          Typical asians, copying everything.


          (hastily adds a 😉

  41. Posted August 23, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I live in the Deep South. I am very conflicted about the removal of the statues. I can see the points of view of both sides(not Antifa and not Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists). On the one hand they are a reminder of our history. One we don’t need to forget.

    Whereas they should be a stark reminder of the deep division and casualties suffered because of it, many celebrate these statues and the Confederate Battle Flag with pride and a longing for “the good ole days” when the South’s gonna rise again.

    Having lived in South Georgia my entire life, I know that to many these things represent something that they wish had happened. They wish the south had won. They wish we had remained in succession. The division is still there.

    For those who oppose the statues, I don’t imagine it’s because the statues, themselves are oppressive. Or even because it reminds them of the dark days of oppression suffered at the hands of their masters. They will never be able to forget that no matter how many statues are removed. It is history. I cannot be changed.

    Moreso what I imagine to be the impetus behind the removal of the statues is what they’ve currently come to represent. After all, who organized the protest against the removal of such? White Supremacists. Why? Most of those who marched were not marching for the cause of history. They were not marching for the remembrance of what makes America….well, America.

    Someone up the page mentioned hatred and the motives of Antifa. I do not condone violence. It is not the answer to our problems. Take off your mask, show your face, put down your club. Violence on the far-left is despicable. But I can understand why a people who have been denigrated, oppressed, and dehumanized would feel hatred toward the group who would love nothing more than to see them expelled or exterminated from this country.

    Hate comes in many forms. The very thought of holding supremacy due solely to the color of one’s skin is one of those forms. Thinking you are better than someone else and looking down on them is hatred. A desire and attempt to restrict another’s civil rights is hatred.

    We can remove all the statues and strip the public sphere of any shred of these symbols of the past. Damn shame of it is we can’t remove the hatred in the hearts of men.

  42. jay
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile our illustrious former Homeland Security head has declared that removing statues is an issue of national security.


    Apparently he feels that their very existence will cause rational people to riot.

    I seem to remember something about ‘necessity for security’ is always the excuse of tyrants.

    • Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      We’ve already quoted Picard on the chains that can bind us, so:

      ” ‘A matter of internal security’ – the age-old cry of the oppressor.”

  43. DickK
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    The Confederate statues celebrate treason and slavery, and are not comparable to Auschwitz in any way. They went up (mostly in the 1920s)for the sole purpose of promoting segregation, not history. These statues must come down. All of them. History can easily be preserved without glorifying treason and slavery.

  44. Posted August 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Where do you draw the line?

    I agree with DickK, they celebrate treason and slavery, because that was really the side Lee, Stonewall, and the rest were really fighting on. I cringe whenever I see those statues. I hope they destroy every one of them, and I will accept any collateral damage to the images of more worthy individuals that happens as a result. We hardly need to celebrate these people to remember our history. The source material is still all there. Read it, and you will see that the Civil War was about slavery, regardless of how Marxist historians, British intellectuals, and southern schoolmarms have tried to gild the turd. I don’t believe in objective morality, so what I’m expressing here is just a personal opinion, a whim if you will, but there you have it.

  45. Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    To sum up, most Americans in this discussion seem to want the statues removed from their current places but have justified fears that this will encourage Antifa and other thuggish Ctrl-leftists.

%d bloggers like this: