Ms. Emma Rosenau
Three weeks ago, all across the country people watched as white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia and clashed with counter protesters. The violence came to a head when a man drove his car into the crowd of people, killing one woman and injuring many others. This disturbing event has since launched a national conversation about what fueled the protests and why a monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, which was slated to be taken down from its pedestal because of the racism and division the Confederacy represents, was such a “hot-topic” issue. These tributes to Confederate leaders are all over the South. They are in public places, funded by taxpayers, and increasingly controversial. We are now faced with a tough decision: what do we do with them?
Many Southerners view the subjects of such statues as heroes of the “lost cause of the Confederacy”, for their ancestors—seen as valiant warriors— were only defending what they thought was right. This romantic idea of people like Robert E. Lee is deeply embedded in Southern society.
Others view the statues as historical, arguing that all they do is commemorate important figures from the Civil War; yes, that war may have been to protect a system of slavery, and what they fought for may have left a legacy of racial injustice continuing into the present day, but removing a monument or two won’t change the past. History is history, and we have to remember it and learn from it… but these monuments are not history. Not even close.