Confederate statues need to fall

November 1, 2017 — by Allen Chen

This past year, America has become a country whipped up into the frenzy of racial tensions, with some of its attention turning toward the leftover symbols of the Confederacy.

There has been strong opposition to these removals. The opposition argues that taking down “historical monuments” destroys a portion of history. Some fear that other history will be removed as well.

What many in the opposition don’t realize is that the  majority of the statues won’t be destroyed, but instead sent to museums and other private owners, where they can be kept as what they truly are: a reminder of the slavery and oppression of America’s past. Instead of eroding in the open air, they will likely last longer but not be the divisive symbols that many have become.

In the midst of the many flawed arguments against removing confederate monuments, the inability to separate history and heritage is the most dangerous.

Although many interpretations of heritage and history have been thrown around, heritage is defined as “the collection of traditions and mindsets passed down from generation to generation within a group,” whereas history is the account of what really happened.

When the statues are brought down, the celebration of the Confederacy and the tradition of white supremacy also fall. The history can always be found in higher quality and quantity in other places.

Furthermore, most of the statues weren’t built to honor the dead Confederate soldiers. Instead, most were built in response to the the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909 and the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s, roughly 100 years after the Civil War ended in 1865. The statues were created to be symbols of white supremacy, the metal representatives of the dying Confederacy, remaining only to reinforce racist ideals. For example, the controversial Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., was built in 1924, just three years after the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921.

Such statues were not built to be art or to commemorate a certain time, but were tools used by white supremacists to intimidate.

President Trump has suggested that the removals of these statues foreshadows the removals of other important statues, tweeting, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

However, his point is completely invalid. The statues of the Confederacy represent something much different than that of the Founding Fathers. Confederate statues are being removed because they specifically represent white supremacy.

When statues celebrating Confederate soldiers and Confederate ideals are taken down, they represent the country attempting to move past the age of white supremacy and racism. The history will be forever preserved in books and museums, but the heritage of the Confederacy — a past of racism and white supremacy —  needs to be at long last erased.

 

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