On removing monuments of leading confederates

2 mins read


Victor Davis Hanson has criticized conservatives for agreeing that Confederate statutes should be taken down if local city councils authorize doing so. In an interview with Tucker Carlson, he explained:

The mob says back to them [some conservatives] “you want it gone, why waste the city council vote?” It’s sort of like the Soviet Duma has to ratify a prejudged conclusion and it’s not “let the city council come to any conclusion they want.”

This is rather facile way of getting around the distinction between a lawful removal of a statue and an unlawful removal. No conservative I know suggests that statues should be removed based the ratification of a mob’s decision. Nor should one assume that a city council that votes to remove a statue isn’t reaching the conclusion it genuinely believes is the right one.

For me the question is: Why should a monument remain in place if (1) it honors someone who took a leading role in trying to destroy the Union and (2) democratically elected city officials agree the monument should be removed?

In his interview with Carlson, Hanson’s answer was that taking the statues down spurs the destruction of American history. I don’t think it does.

The history of the Confederacy and the deeds of Confederate leaders live on without the monuments. That history and those deeds aren’t expunged. Anyone can read about them.

The historical fact that a city honored a Confederate leader with a monument also lives on. Removing the statue merely adds another chapter to history.

The history becomes this: Long ago, a city council, likely elected when African-Americans weren’t fully enfranchised, put up a monument to the Confederate. Many decades later, a more democratically elected city council decided to take it down.

Unfreezing history is not the same thing as destroying it.



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