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The Virtues of Tearing Down Statues Depends on Where They are Standing

Remembering history's good; celebrating it, not so much

Confederate monuments like the Jackson statue were never intended as benign symbols. Rather, they were the clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy. Among many examples, we can see this plainly if we look at the dedication of a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina, in which a speaker proclaimed that the Confederate soldier “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.” Disturbingly, he went on to recount a tale of performing the “pleasing duty” of “horse whipping” a black woman in front of federal soldiers. All over the South, this grotesque message is conveyed by similar monuments. As importantly, this message is clear to today’s avowed white supremacists.
 

I agree.

There is a gross hypocrisy in President Trump's at least feigned emotional defense of the "beautiful statues" of Lee, Davis, Jackson and other Confederate "heroes," and of the "good people" whose only goal, he claims, is allegedly defending their "cultural heritage." This is not about protesting some "PC" attack on the Confederacy, or about fighting to preserve the historical record.

Recall the chest thumping and the media gloating we witnessed as statues of Saddam Hussein were torn down by the American victors of the illegal invasion of Iraq? Recall too the US excitement and patriotic enthusiasm of the "USA! USA!" crowd as Russians began tearing down statues of Stalin and even Lenin across the former Soviet Union? There were and are many Iraqis who liked Saddam and the modern Arab state he created. There are perhaps millions of Russians who still revere Lenin for ending the Tsarist state and bringing Russia into the modern world. There are even millions of Russians who still revere Stalin for making their country a world power and for defeating the invading Nazi army in World War II. Yet were any Americans decrying the erasing of that history in Iraq or Russia? I'm not saying Lenin's and Stalin's statues shouldn't be torn down -- certainly Stalin's should -- but what makes Stalin any different in a qualitative way, from Lee or Jackson or Davis?

My feeling is that we don't need statues of white supremacist traitors who fought this nation's bloodiest war in the name of perpetuating slavery in order to help us remember this nation's history any more than Germany needs statues reminding its people of Adolf Hitler. And if bigots, fascists and white supremacists in this nation want to have statuary to remind them about or to celebrate its most sordid chapters, they can put them up on private land and pay the costs for maintaining them. Memorials to such vile human beings don't belong in public spaces supported by public tax dollars -- especially the tax dollars paid by descendants of the very people that the subjects of those statues fought to keep enslaved.

If we have to have them, maybe we could require that the reprehensible sculptures be accompanied by one of their most famous defenders: Donald J. Trump. (I'm thinking here of the nude sculptures of a naked Trump with small hands and tiny genitals that were produced by sculptor Joshua Monroe and placed strategically around the country in public spaces during the presidential campaign by an anarchist group:



story | by Dr. Radut