Offensive confederate statues spark controversy across the nation

Julia Kocsis, Assistant Editor


Hundreds of statues celebrating Confederate war generals and soldiers still stand across the U.S., although it has been 150 years since the Civil War came to an end. These statues serve as offensive reminders of the United States’ shameful history of racism, slavery and oppression.

Whether or not these Confederate statues should be taken down is a topic that has been widely debated since the horrific, racially-motivated massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina two years ago. Typically, since conservative Republicans were historically concentrated in the South, they are more likely to voice their desire to “preserve their history” and support the views of their ancestors.

August 11 and 12 of 2017, a “Unite the Right” rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally consisted of white supremacists trying to prevent the removal of a statue of the infamous Confederate war general, Robert E. Lee. The result of the violent rally was the death of one young woman and numerous injuries. The shocking events in Charlottesville accelerated the process of removing some of the statues.

Most Confederate statues were not constructed during the Civil War. They were constructed around the time the Jim Crow laws mandating segregation were enacted. Segregationists, or those who were in favor of racial segregation, commissioned more Confederate statues during the 1950’s.

President Donald J. Trump refers to these racist statues as “beautiful” on his Twitter account. Defenders of the statues, like Trump, claim that by removing the statues, history is being erased. What these defenders fail to realize, or chose to ignore, is that the statues were erected years after the Civil War ended. They were built specifically to remind citizens of white domination and superiority, not to tell stories of the war and those who lost their lives.

While many are vehemently opposed to the statues and what they represent, they are not necessarily sure of what to do with them once they are removed. One option would be to destroy them, but it may be hard to gain widespread approval for this idea without more violent protests. In that case, if supporters of the statues are so determined to keep the statues as a reminder of our history, they should be stored where most historical artifacts are stored-in a museum.

The Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, supports this plan by saying “Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums — not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds.”