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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Confederate statues must be moved

<ebates divide the United States into sections with two sides right now. I think we’ve all seen and participated in a fair share of them. But one, in particular, has taken the spotlight recently. What should we do about the Confederate statues in Charlottesville and beyond? At first I’m going to refute a few of what I’ve determined to be the main defenses for the continued existence of the Confederate statues and explain why I don’t think they should remain where they are, but also why they also shouldn’t be destroyed.

The first of the three arguments I’m going to tackle quickly because it’s unbelievably stupid and I have no sympathy for it. That argument being, drumroll please, Southern pride. Oh, how I loathe this. Okay first, if you see statues of dawdy old racist traitors as a symbol of Southern pride, you are, in actuality, the modern symbol of Southern shame. The South has a rich history and culture, with actual things to take pride in. Traitors and racism are not one of them. Second, whatever notion of Southern pride someone happens to hold in no way counters the crushing weight those statues place upon people who have every right in the world to feel at home in the United States but can’t. Because every day those symbols of racism leer down at them from places of honor. In that case, I wouldn’t care if those statues did actually present some grand image of the strength, longevity and beauty of the South, I’d take them down myself.

Speaking of arguments I absolutely loathe, let’s talk about the slippery slope real quick: that if we take down the Confederate statues what’s to stop us from taking down statues of dear old George Washington or Thomas Jefferson? It’s actually pretty simple. Take Thomas Jefferson as an example. He owned slaves, yes, and we should absolutely acknowledge that, I can’t say that enough, but his legacy has never been defined as one of racism and slavery. He stands for more and accomplished more beyond that. The statues of the Confederates though are of men whose only enduring legacy is their traitorous support of a rebellion to maintain the institution of slavery. They will always be linked to the Confederacy.

With that out of the way, I can now move onto the argument that actually holds some merit: history. Now I’m a huge history buff, and I’m glad that suddenly people care about history. In fact, I believe that we as a people should never forget the wrongs of our country. And, in many ways, the statues would be a good way to help us remember. But here’s why we still need to take them down.

Take a second to think about why people make statues. It’s to glorify their model. Making a statue of someone is an act of glorification. And choosing to keep them up indicates that we as a people are alright with that. And there’s the problem. By keeping those Confederate statues up, we signify that we don’t care, or maybe even approve, of what those people did and what those people stood for. If we want to prove that we reject what those statues stand for, they cannot remain where they are, in positions of glory, their morbid legacy distorting our world with its grime. They need to be removed, but perhaps not destroyed.

As I said I’m a big believer in the importance of history. But how do we preserve history if we don’t keep them where they are? Simple, we move them Indiana Jones style to where history belongs,  a museum. Where everybody can learn from our collective legacy, but where they won’t sit in spots of glory. A place that allows us to reminisce and reflect while still indicating that while we may acknowledge those statues, we do not stand by them. That’s the solution, and if someone truly stands by the history argument, then they ought to accept that.
Those statues cannot remain where they are, both as proof to our fellow citizens that the United States is as much their home as it is anybody else’s and to show we don’t approve of those men and what they stood for. But we do need to preserve our history. Moving them to a museum would be the best solution.

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