When we look at monuments, what do we see? We may see an enormous statue dedicated to the generals of past wars, or memorials to those that fell during conflict, fighting for what they believed in, or we may see a monument to the ideals of a bygone era. While, objectively, each of these types of monument is inherently important to the historical narrative, and is a piece of history we cannot afford to forget lest we run the risk of committing the same mistakes, we can still learn about and from them if they were removed from their current public space into a museum. It is my opinion that it is the states’ responsibility to not perpetuate the racist ideals associated with Confederate monuments. What that means is the deliberate placement of these memorials on state property, i.e. the capitol building in Montgomery, AL., should be banned. These things can be moved into museums and still serve the purpose of educating future generations of the atrocities of the Old South. By placing them in front of a building that is supposed to be dedicated to the equal protection under the law of ALL citizens certainly undermines that idea by alienating those not born white in the South.
All of that said, I must be clear, I do not support the destruction of these monuments because of their historical significance. They are too important to be effectively removed from the narrative all together. Furthermore, I recognize that not all would be able to be moved to a new location, and for those I would suggest either the alteration of the monument to more accurately display them for what they are, or we better contextualize them so that we are no longer painting the Confederates as heroes. They were traitors that were upset they couldn’t own people anymore. I’ll leave you with this: if we continue to idolize these men and ideals, we are no better than them. If anything, we’re worse because at least they had the guts to actually fight for what they believed in, however evil and corrupted their beliefs were.