Monuments and the Public

Monuments serve as reminders of the past and are often used to elevate people of the past, but without context they’re just statues. Many of the monuments in the South are dedicated to the Confederate Army and the men who died for the Confederate cause, but few try to name the men they represent or contextualize themselves. These monuments have sparked backlash over their placement in public squares and often their meanings are debated to the point of anger by both sides of the political aisle. All Monuments have good and bad aspects, humans by nature are flawed and all monuments made for human achievements are subject to scrutiny for the people and ideals they represent. No two people have the same experience in life and because of this every person is different and has values that make them support certain points of view while renouncing others. This leads to mixed support and opposition to the removal of controversial memorials, with both sides grasping for moral superiority. One of the recent controversies was of the California statue of Saint Junipero Serra, he has been called a supporter and oppressor of native peoples and during a protest his statue in a local park was torn down and painted red. The unauthorized removal led to people on the right demonizing those at the protests and the present organizations. There are a plethora of solutions for monuments, but I believe the least controversial way to deal with them would be the mass decentralization of them all away from public spaces to relevant historical sites and museums, because many monuments that spark similar backlash exist in areas where they serve no purpose in teaching the area’s history. Monuments should be used to teach about the past, without proper context they fail to do this, so we should find a way to use them rather than demolish them.

2 Comments

  1. I agree that there an be good and bad aspects to many arguments, however, I think your solution is an overreaction. To look at our current problem with certain monuments and conclude that the only effective solution is the removal of ” all [monuments] away from public spaces to relevant historical sites and museums” seems rash. There are tens of thousands of monuments throughout the United States and they serve a wide array of purposes, and even though some cause controversy, does not mean we should move all monuments to a museum. There is no one solution to monuments and not all monuments are the same, to treat them as such is to ignore our history. Instead we need to look at certain monuments on a case by case basis and allow local communities to lead the conversations about whether or not a certain monument or group of monument still reflects the communities’ values.

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