Brookhaven students debate if Confederate monuments should remain standing.
Let them stand. The Confederate statues should be left where they are, where they have stood for decades.
After the Aug. 12 incident during a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, thousands across the nation denounced white nationalist groups and called for the removal of Confederate symbols nationwide, according to The New York Times.
Locally, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he doesn’t like the Confederate monuments in the city’s public spaces, according to The Dallas Morning News. On Aug. 15, Rawlings called for a task force to study the issue of what to do about the city’s monuments in Robert E. Lee Park and Pioneer Plaza.
According to CentralTrack, nine monuments to the Confederacy still stand around Dallas today. Among them are four elementary schools named after prominent Southern Civil War leaders and two cemeteries.
But why should these monuments be removed?
History isn’t a fairy tale – it’s filled with war, blood and greed.
A DARK PAST
The main argument is they represent hate. They are the physical manifestations of a way of life no longer accepted by the majority of Americans – slavery.
In an opinion piece by The Washington Post, Nina Silber, a professor of history and American studies at Boston University, said, “The Nazi order praised the Old South, seeing in Dixie a society that exalted white leadership and kept African-Americans on the lowest rungs of social order.”
But that’s as far as the connection goes. Both groups sought to place themselves and their dominion above others.
Silber added, “Revealing the deep connections between Nazi and Confederate beliefs became essential to proving that Southern racial practices were, in fact, clearly antithetical to American values like democracy and equality.”
And I agree. Oppressing other races just because of the color of their skin or country of origin only promotes inequality.
However, comparing the Confederacy to Nazi Germany is a bit extreme, at least in my opinion. The Nazis engaged in a deliberate attempted extermination of an entire race along with other peoples they considered inferior. The Confederates fought to keep the only way of life they knew.
I don’t justify the reasons for the Civil War.
However, it is a part of American history, albeit a dark one. Removing Confederate symbols won’t erase anything. It won’t change the past.
We don’t need to embrace these aspects of the past, but merely understand and acknowledge them.
A LOST CAUSE
They were created to honor the heroes of the South. To remember their struggles and their victories. But they are symbols of a failed cause.
It’s not something that should be honored or commemorated.
According to FiveThirtyEight, 62 percent of respondents to a poll conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist University after the Charlottesville incident said statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should remain standing as historical symbols rather than be removed.
If anything, they remind us of a time when Americans turned on each other. They can serve as reminders of past mistakes.
For that, their value is immeasurable.
WHO ELSE GOES?
But surely the removal of the statues won’t be the last of it. There will be something else to hate because of its questionable morality.
Christopher Columbus is hailed as a hero, too, for discovering America. Our nation’s capital has carried his name since 1871, according to history.com. The name Columbia was used during the American Revolution as a patriotic reference. We’ve named the second Monday of October in his honor, Columbus Day – the one we generally call State Fair Day in North Texas.
But Columbus was no saint. His exploits of the Caribbean led to the demise of many native cultures. According to CollegeHumor’s “Adam Ruins Everything,” the Taino where among those cultures. Columbus enslaved them to take their gold – gold they never had. Columbus’ conquest of the Taino shrunk their population from 250,000 to 200 by 1542.
Should he be removed from American history, too?
And should we also remove our Founding Fathers while we are at it? Their faces adorn our currency, but many of them were slave owners.
The solution isn’t to remove the statues that have become fixtures of the cities and parks they are located in. Removing them won’t change the past.
Rallies and protests aren’t the solution, either. They divide and allow for the mob mentality to proliferate. If we want to change perceptions, we must be able to have civilized dialogue about the issues that affect us today.
I’m not saying we sit in drum circles and hold hands singing “Kumbaya My Lord.” All we need to do is listen and understand others’ views. We must respect and help one another without prejudice.
We have to understand the mistakes of our ancestors and know how to avoid them. Without this, there is no hope for change.
Arts & Culture Editor
Winston Churchill once said, “History is written by the victors.” This statement seems applicable to key moments in world history.
However, if that were truly the case in the U.S., the Union’s victory in the Civil War would have put a damper on the Confederacy’s history. Yet, here we are over 150 years later, arguing about that very history. These Confederate monuments
should be removed from public places because it is as if the South is still being celebrated for some sort of accomplishment.
While Confederate values may still be present in some parts of the country, they do not represent the country now. They believed in states’ rights, but also fought to keep the institution of slavery – an atrocity the U.S. is still trying to accept as part of its past.
The U.S. shouldn’t fight to forget this part of history. The nation needs to understand the past and how it is still affecting the country today.
However, if we completely remove these monuments from existence, I believe we would put history at risk and open the door to potentially forgetting the past.
The altercations in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue showed that this nation’s history is still at war with itself.
Destroying the monuments completely would ruffle many feathers.
These monuments represent many different things to many different people, and whether they truly represent or go against those beliefs and values depends on whom you ask. The only thing the two sides have in common is that this is a part of U.S. history and should be understood and treated as such.
The dispute over the removal of Confederate monuments has spread nationwide.
Perhaps by preserving them in museums, tensions could be eased on both sides of the issue. It’s almost as if the U.S. has two histories; the one written by the northern victors who say the Civil War was a quest to end slavery, and the one of the Southerners, who say they were fighting for states’ rights and less federal intervention.
Both sides were fighting for their beliefs and values. Despite differing reasons, they both believed in what they were fighting for, and those beliefs should be acknowledged. It’s the reason for this controversy, people feel as if these monuments represent or go against those values fought for long ago.
By putting them in museums, the monuments could be understood for their part in U.S. history. Future generations could learn how they sparked issues 150 years after the Civil War’s end.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE PAST
I believe by doing so, the two histories of this nation can finally merge and reach the consensus that a united nation that understands its history is strongest. The nation, once divided by war, never healed from that division. This division festered to a tipping point and still requires mending 150 years later.
According to Snopes, Peter Carmichael, a history professor at Gettysburg College, said: “This is a moment to acknowledge the incredible change that we have seen among American people when they look at their past. They’re not trying to sweep things under the rug. There are no saints and there are no sinners back in 1861. Everyone was to blame, except for the slaves.”
A general agreement in American history needs to be met to cease division in the U.S. This would be by taking down the monuments because they are historically signifigant. The monuments’ removal will have to be taught and explained over and over again. Though, it won’t be something either side will truly be happy with right away, it will be a compromise.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Mayor Mike Rawlings assigned a task force to decide how to take down the city’s Confederate monuments and wants city council-officials to take action by Nov. 8.
The removal will undoubtedly spark more controversy and open the door for protests, just as the nation saw in Charlottesville.
There is no telling how large a protest in Dallas would be. Living here my whole life, I know Texans hold their heritage in high regard. Though, how much of the Confederacy is a part of that regard? I do not know, but it is something to consider as the city pushes for the monuments’ removal.
However, by removing them from these public areas, they won’t be celebrated figureheads of a complicated time in U.S. history.
Only time will tell how the statues’ removal will affect the future, but if done properly, this issue could go down in history as a compromise for both sides.