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Should Confederate Statues Be Removed?

by Countable | 8.15.17

What’s the story?

The official reason for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA this last weekend was to protest the removal of a statue honoring General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army in the Civil War.

On Monday protestors in Durham, NC, enraged by the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville, took matters into their own hands. A Confederate Soldiers Monument was toppled from its base with ropes and mangled. Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews announced Tuesday that his department would be pursuing charges for vandalism.

Why does it matter?

The removal of Confederate memorial statues has been underway around the country, and stirring controversy, for several years now. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu came under heavy fire for leading the effort to remove four Confederate memorials in his city. More municipalities, following the violence in Charlottesville, have sped up their own plans to remove Confederate memorials.

Supporters of removing the statues feel the existence of the monuments in public spaces glorifies the country’s racist history, and supports systems of white supremacy. Opponents feel that the monuments honor their cultural history and see the removal efforts as suppressing or rewriting history in the service of political correctness.

When municipalities have taken steps to remove Confederate memorials from public parks and government properties, they have not been destroying the statues. Instead they have arranged for them to be given to organizations, like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, or stored until they can be moved to museums or other spaces that can provide what officials call "proper context".

Erin Burns, Mayor Landrieu’s press secretary, discussed the difficulty with NOLA.com of finding the right place to display their memorials, which are currently being kept in city storage:

"Moving the location of these Confederate statues from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered is an acknowledgement that it is time to take stock of, and then move past a painful part of our history."

In contrast, Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney, whose city was a former Confederate capital, announced Monday that he doesn’t support the removal of the Confederate statues in his city. He believes they should be left where they are, with additional plaques or statues added to provide a wider view of the history they represent:

"For me, it’s about telling the complete truth. I don’t think removal of symbols does anything for telling the actual truth or changes the state and culture of racism in this country today."

What do you think?

Take the survey, tell us in the comments and then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(346)
  • Christine
    08/15/2017
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    Because of what they symbolize to people of color...the continuation of slavery yes. These symbols should come down. HOWEVER I think they should be in museums they are historical and say something about the past and what it stood for before freedoms and personhood was granted to everyone.

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  • Linda
    08/15/2017
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    Yes. Statues are not erected in public spaces to teach history. They are erected to praise the deeds of an historical figure - to say "He represents values we emulate". When it is clear that we do not value those deeds, e.g., fighting to destroy the United States so they could continue to own human beings, those statues should be removed from a public space and placed, if anywhere, in a museum of American history.

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  • Christie
    08/15/2017
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    No, they should be left alone. They are part of our history that should not be forgotten. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. History is not all sunshine and roses, its dirty, nasty and horrifying but not something to be shunned or locked away. Learn your history instead of being a jack a** and destroying it.

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  • Mark
    08/15/2017
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    Speaking as a Southerner, born and raised, it's time for them to go...pass time, actually.

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  • Denise
    08/15/2017
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    All statues and monuments should be taken down immediately. They were installed to praise the Confederate movement which was actually a treasonous Act against their own country in order to keep their slaves. Let's not forget that, people!

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  • Herbert
    08/15/2017
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    I support the removal of the Confederate Statutes. Placing them on Museum ground serves multiple purposes: 1. The statutes are not destroyed. 2. It leaves the statutes available for historical study. 3. It removes the pain, associated with the statutes for many people, especially black people whose ancestors may have been slaves, from a prominent place in the public sphere. 4. Moving them does not diminish Southern Culture or Heritage. People who fought valiantly for the ignoble Confederate cause can still be remembered. 5. Having traveled to Germany a few times there are statues in public of Hitler and his ilk. The German's relegate their horrific Nazi past to museums. They are not attempting to erase or change history. They just want it in its proper place. We should do the same

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  • Poli.Sci
    08/15/2017
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    Confederate statues or any relic of history should not be moved from public grounds. The United States needs to stop acting as though the history never happened and move forward with the lessons learned from our history. History should always be preserved, never rewritten.

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  • Dawn
    08/15/2017
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    No, they are part of our history. You can't erase history by removing monuments, however, those who don't pay attention to history's lessons are doomed to repeat them.

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  • Ticktock
    08/15/2017
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    I don't know of a single monument of Hitler, Mussolini, or Yamamoto of WWII. This issue is more than about the losers of the Civil War and means different things to different segments of society. If you are white you have view the civil war totally different from the view of those of African origin because their very existence, state of life changed over night. Being white allows one to view the Civil War as a conflict between two apposing economic systems: manufacturing vs agricultural. If one is black the war becomes very basic. It's all about slavery vs freedom, equal rights vs subservience, opportunity vs oppression and being commodity vs a person. These monuments represent not history, but the very people who fought and died to maintain a way of life that allowed for the enslavement of other human beings. Only all the enslaved were people of color. We would not as a people tolerate a monument to Hitler because of what he represents to the world. Why should we tolerate monuments to those who would fight to continue enslaving a race of people regardless of color. We object to these monuments because those that would defend their prominence, the KKK's, white supremacist's, and extreme alt right's basic belief is to again subordinate the rights of those not of their ilk to their domination just as Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan did in WWII. Trump does not get this. He is not one of us. He has been rich all his life and insulated from normal life. How can he lead when he cannot even relate to the values at stake? The monuments must go. Once they are gone maybe whites will be able to view the Civil War for what it was and not through a romantic haze. Then healing may start as a nation.

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  • James
    08/15/2017
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    First of all the violence in Charlottesville was between not only White supremist i.e. members of the KKK as well as Neo Nazis but ANTIFA and BLM which are both extreme left wing communist and anarchist violent organizations themselves! The organizers of the rally did not invite either side however the city granted marching permits to both violent extremists sides! Shame on The City! Now then as Confederate soldiers were/ are Americans and as these monuments are there to honor the heroes and the fallen! This history belongs to every American wether you like it or not! In 1958 I believe, the full congress, yes both sides of the isle voted to make all Confederate Veterans U.S. Veterans. Signed in to law by then President Eisenhower! As a Veteran, I honor all of the fallen in all wars! Sorry we do not get to pick and choose who we will honor and who we will not! If you don't like it then how about just keeping your big dumb mouths shut and walk the other way! Robert E. Lee never owned slaves and was against the war from the beginning! His duty was to his home state of Virginia! He was the Commander of West Point when the war broke out. After the war he became the President of this nation's first all black college and served with honor! Any all you little leftie crybabies, we do not wipe out this nation's history! Confederate soldiers did not, rape, pillage and burn there way around Pennsylvania during Gettysburg! They were greeted by local townsfolk with flowers, food and water! Not like Sherman who's troops burned, raped even black slave women and pillaged and murdered their way through Georgia! To make. Long story short the vandalization, desecration, or forceful taking down of any Veterans monument or cemetery is in violation of Federal and all State's laws. This is no different than book burning! Same thing that ISIS is doing in the Middle East! Same thing that Hitler did in the 1930s! Anyone who supports this criminal behavior wether they take part in it is complicit in that crime!

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  • Kathy
    08/15/2017
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    Put them in a museum. Not publicly reminders of divisiveness Our president is a disgrace to our nation Just listening to him this afternoon made me literally ill

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  • Luke
    08/15/2017
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    Yes but not destroyed. Create a museum of the Civil War with the others in DC, put them there. If you want to go learn about history go there to see them but we should not have them as public monuments any longer.

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  • Linda
    08/15/2017
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    You cannot and should not try to erase history. I do not agree with racism of any kind, but it's part of our story Americans. The good and bad of it. Destroying a statue does not change it.

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  • Clay
    08/15/2017
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    In reality, why would we honor a leader of an army that was fighting to gain succession from our country so they could continue to own slaves? The thought of a slave owning society is despicable.

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  • David
    08/15/2017
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    Instead of removing Statues why don't we remove the KKK and all these other hate groups that are in America this nation has no need for these hate groups we now need peace more than ever not hatred,evilness, or violence, what will all that cause nothing good for this great nation or the great hard working Americans

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  • Charles
    08/15/2017
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    The Civil War is over the confederacy lost. Removal of the monuments and flags should have been done over a hundred years ago. Now is as a good time to do it.

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  • Laura
    08/16/2017
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    The Civil War and the Confederacy represent the darkest time in American history, a time when the nation was literally torn apart. Let's be clear about the Confederacy. They turned their back on the nation and declared themselves no longer a part of it. And they did so in order to protect the right to hold other human beings in bondage. And for those of you educated in the South who were taught it was really just about economics, it certainly was- the economics of slavery. So no, we should not celebrate the Confederacy. We should not fly its flag and we should not honor its leaders on government property or in public spaces. To do so is an affront to the descendants of those held in bondage. It is an affront to this nation, "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". And it is an affront to common decency. I recognize there was a time when we in the South knew no better, but we do now. I am a woman with deep Southern roots- Georgia, Louisiana, Texas. There is much about the heritage and cultural of the South to love- the food, the music, the architecture and most of all the good hearted people and the spirit of hospitality. These are the things we should honor. The rebel flag and statues of dead traitors do not pay tribute to any of the goodness of the South. There truly is much to love and much to be proud of. But the dark stain of the Civil War and the lingering racism and bigotry and willful ignorance that have resulted from exulting the despicable and reprehensible is nothing to cherish or honor or celebrate. Take these relics of division and hate away from our public spaces. Yes, the Civil War and the Confederacy are historical facts. So let's put these symbols of that dark time into the proper educational settings and use them to teach an honest, fact-based history instead of the glorifying folklore so many Southern children have been taught for generations.

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  • Ollie32
    08/15/2017
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    Yes it's over due. They do not represent the government or America today. They should remain in museums as a part of our country's history!

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  • Rick
    08/16/2017
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    These symbols of hate should not be elevated to support hate and discrimination and should be put in a museum to remind us of where we've come from so we don't repeat those actions!

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  • SCgirl
    08/16/2017
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    I am a southerner from SC and I agree that the statues should come down. In fact, they never should have been allowed to be erected. Southerners that were still trying to find their way after their devastating loss adopted the Lost Cause. Most statues were erected in times of Jim Crow and the South adopted the Lost Cause which was meant to dispell the truth of their loss and create revisionist history. Most statues were commissioned by the Daughters or Sons of the Confederacy long after the war had ended. Not only do they need to be removed, but true history regarding the influence of the Lost Cause and why the statues were erected need to be taught and displayed alongside the statues. The only way we will ever advance and put this behind us is if we study the real history which includes the South's attempt to whitewash history. By bringing light to our dark past, people will no longer be able to glorify and romanticize revisionist history.

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