Author Topic: Taking down statues and monuments - righting wrongs or rewriting history?  (Read 6632 times)

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Offline Roy H.

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See I think confederate war  memorials are about the least tricky part of this. Those people were literally traitors who had they won would have ripped part the country. I mean they literally weren't fighting for our side.

America is built on treason.  Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, etc., etc.  Every one a traitor who attempted to leave his country.  Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold — the epitome of a traitor — was ultimately loyal to his country.

It seems a bit arbitrary and isn’t an argument I buy into.
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Offline keevsnick

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See I think confederate war  memorials are about the least tricky part of this. Those people were literally traitors who had they won would have ripped part the country. I mean they literally weren't fighting for our side.

America is built on treason.  Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, etc., etc.  Every one a traitor who attempted to leave his country.  Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold — the epitome of a traitor — was ultimately loyal to his country.

It seems a bit arbitrary and isn’t an argument I buy into.

I mean thats certainly true, it just strikes me as a somewhat silly argument.  The founders treason CREATED the country, the confederates would have DESTROYED it. Thats a fairly large difference to me when you consider who we chose to honor with a statue AS A COUNTRY. 
« Last Edit: July 20, 2020, 06:51:39 PM by keevsnick »

Offline keevsnick

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I'm confused as to the actual 'point' here.

What is the relevance of how this particular woman feels about the actions of her ancestor?

It’s interesting?  It’s a different voice in a broad conversation?

What is the relevance of how you feel about somebody else’s ancestors?

Definitely an interesting read and provides context to her ancestral history. However, I don't think that is something to take away from American history, especially considering that many of those statues - as far as I know - were raised almost as a counter to the movements of that time (Civil Rights and so forth). In another words, I think statues of George Washington where his value comes from his achievements and being a slave owner is almost a product of his time, I think that is okay. However, a Confederate General who actively fought for the Confederates (essentially for slavery) I think is one that does not need to be celebrated. I think the gray area for me is Columbus, who does have a great achievement but also did so much harm and I am not sure we can blame that on the context of its time as a cultural thing.

Here’s a tricky one for me:  Confederate war memorials. Assuming they do not contain racist visuals, I am fine with them. We celebrate the brave soldiers who fought in our wars, even if those wars weren’t just.  Most of the men dying in those wars never owned a slave, and we are deeply impoverished themselves.
  I think it is OK to honor their sacrifice.

In general, I agree with your distinction. Men like Washington and Jefferson may have owned slaves, and signed onto a constitution that did not consider them to be full persons, but their contributions were vast.

Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson we are two of the most impressive generals in American history. I have no problem honoring them in a military museum, or on the battlefields where they fought.  Generalized public statues for men who voluntarily fought for the South (and therefore the institution of slavery) is much more tricky to me.

I came very close to attending Washington and Lee for law school. Ultimately, I wanted to be in Boston, and have been warned off by a few students that W&L was “very Southern”.  Sometimes I wish I had reconsidered, just to get a better understanding of that culture.

See I think confederate war  memorials are about the least tricky part of this. Those people were literally traitors who had they won would have ripped part the country. I mean they literally weren't fighting for our side. And they were fighting to maintain slavery, i mean certainly the rank and file weren't in a lot of cases but that was the stated purpose of many of the states that succeeded.

I come down on the opposite side in the founding father debate. George Washington did alot of great things even if he did own slaves, and he isnt bets known for fighting a war to reserve the institution. I think, in other words, we have to learn to distinguish between those for whom owning slaves was a character flaw and those for whom it was a feature.
When I read Roy's comments my mind went to memorials at battle locations. Anything like that, which is a true historical marker of an event, I can get behind.

If you want to put up a  plaque saying "So and so battle occurred here on this date" then thats fine by me, or even a somber type memorial recognizing the horror of war by recognizing its high cost  thats fine. 

Its when we start celebrating or glorifying the "cause" of the south, or  the "brave leaders" who fought for the cause that things get a problematic to me. 

Offline Roy H.

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See I think confederate war  memorials are about the least tricky part of this. Those people were literally traitors who had they won would have ripped part the country. I mean they literally weren't fighting for our side.

America is built on treason.  Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, etc., etc.  Every one a traitor who attempted to leave his country.  Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold — the epitome of a traitor — was ultimately loyal to his country.

It seems a bit arbitrary and isn’t an argument I buy into.

I mean thats certainly true, it just doesn't actually matter.  The founders treason CREATED the country, the confederates would have DESTROYED it. Thats a fairly large difference to me when you consider who we chose to honor with a statue as a country.

Maybe as a country.  But as a locality?  I get it.  These were brave sons of the South who died to honor their country.  Again, I’m talking more about the rank and file, many of whom were conscripted.  I think it’s possible to feel pride and honor in an ancestor’s (failed) sacrifice.  Basically, if the song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” could be a statue, I’d get it.

So, I get the pride and honor argument.  But, ultimately I think that statues on public grounds shouldn’t celebrate those who have become symbolic of slavery and white supremacy.  I might walk by a guy with the rebel battle flag and think “racist hick”. That’s different than a black who might think “racist hick wants to kill me and my family”.  Statues can convey that same message, except as “the racists in this town want to kill me”.  If somebody truly believes that all lives matter, empathy in certain areas is important.
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Offline saltlover

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I really liked this column I just read on the subject.  It focuses more on names than statues, but they’re largely the same.  Here are the first few paragraphs (it’s moderately long, so I won’t share the entire thing.  Sorry for those without a Washington Post subscription.)

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The Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy in Albany, N.Y., is currently seeking a new name. Schuyler is a hometown hero: a Revolutionary War general, a member of the Continental Congress and Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law. He was also the largest slave owner in late-1700s Albany County.


This is not new information, but it’s newly disqualifying for the namesake of a public elementary school. “No school should honor the memory of a person who was an enslaver,” the school board president declared on June 19, adding, “now is the time for us to act.” Ten days later, the board formed a renaming committee.


Some would claim school officials (and certainly the mayor, who removed Schuyler’s statue from outside Albany City Hall) are “erasing history.” To me it’s the opposite: They’re taking history seriously, reading it closely and acting on their conclusions. A new name will be announced before school starts.


In my home state of Virginia, where more than two dozen schools are still named for Confederate generals, the renaming process is not as swift. On July 7, the faculty of Washington and Lee University voted overwhelmingly to take Robert E. Lee’s name off the school, but instead of a renaming committee, the board of trustees formed a we’ll-study-the-question committee.


Interestingly, the college’s website barely mentions the full name. Instead the school repeatedly calls itself “W&L,” in what appears to be a KFC-like attempt to downplay the less appetizing aspects of its brand.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/20/dont-get-too-attached-your-institutions-name-its-only-now/

Offline Roy H.

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Remember the good old days, when radical leftist ideas were dismissed out of hand?

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BOSTON (AP) — The white Union Army commander sits rigid atop an imposing horse. His Black men, rifles to their shoulders, march resolutely alongside on their way to battle.

For L’Merchie Frazier, the towering bronze relief in downtown Boston captures the stirring call to arms answered by Black soldiers who served in the state’s famed Civil War fighting unit, which was popularized in the 1989 Oscar-winning movie “Glory.”

But the longtime Boston artist says she understands how the imagery of the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial can conjure mixed feelings as the nation takes another hard look at its monuments and memorials in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
“Whose story is being told with this monument?” said Frazier, who is the education director at the nearby Museum of African American History. “The hierarchy is very evident. White commander out front; Black soldiers in the background. It’s the first thing you see.”

Amid the national reckoning on racism, the Shaw memorial is the latest and, perhaps, one of the more curious to receive scrutiny.

Unlike other felled monuments, the work by American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens isn’t a paean to the Confederacy. It doesn’t have explicit ties to colonialism, such as the Christopher Columbus monuments that have been toppled in Boston and elsewhere.

Instead, the creation of the memorial in the aftermath of the Civil War was championed by prominent Black Bostonians of the day.

It was originally envisioned as a traditional equestrian monument to Shaw, but the colonel’s family, a wealthy Boston clan strongly opposed to slavery, requested that it also honor the Black men who served and died alongside him during their famed charge on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1863.

The monument is also significant because it’s the nation’s first honoring Black soldiers, said Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden, a group helping pay for a $3 million restoration of the monument, which started in earnest in May.

Saint-Gaudens spent 14 years creating a richly detailed bas relief, using Black men of different ages as models for his realistic soldiers. After it was unveiled to fanfare in 1897, American author Henry James declared the work “real perfection,” according to the National Park Service.

“This was a radical piece of art,” Vizza said. “It was not lost on people back then.”

The work, which sits across from the Massachusetts Statehouse, has been vandalized over the years, mostly by people snapping off Shaw’s broadsword. But during the unrest that followed Floyd’s killing in May, the monument was tagged with anti-police slogans, expletives and other graffiti, along with about a dozen others in and around the Common.

Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition that’s calling on Boston to rename Faneuil Hall after Crispus Attucks, said the Shaw monument should be moved to a museum because it casts Blacks as “subservient” to whites.

I guess as soon as Boston took down the emancipation Memorial this was bound to happen. Here’s a hard history lesson:  blacks were subservient to whites during the Civil War era.  They were largely treated like chattel.  The man of the 54th Regiment were heroes that in some meaningful way helped change that perception. Their sacrifice was an American sacrifice. This monument honors them, not degrades them.

I can only imagine what sins the crazies of the 23rd century will be judging us for despite our pure and true intentions.
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Offline Roy H.

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Offline GreenFaith1819

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Until there is NATIONAL DIALOGUE - including VARIOUS members / groups of society - we'll be taking down..tearing down...defacing EVERYTHING.

Our current President lacks the empathy and understanding necessary for such dialogue.

I'd humbly recommend Black Lives Matter Reps, some interested members of Congress and the Senate, ANY descendants of historical figures, Confederate Reps / Historians, Union Reps / Historians....

Robert E. Lee's descendant is a Preacher / Minister - he should be a Rep of such a meeting.

Past presidents...Military figures and officials.....Sports figures should be present as well.

I think this would be a GREAT start to FINALLY have some SERIOUS national dialogue.

I think the ONLY requirement for such a meeting would be an OPEN MIND. Interested parties should be able to leave their degrees / credentials - at the door and be able to SPEAK PLAINLY........

In the meantime, we'll continue to have monuments defaced / vandalized....Fed officers deployed....confrontations...division.....all sowing right into Pres. Trump's dialogue.



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