Restricted What is the rationale behind the current wave to remove Confederate statues and Monuments?

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CMWinkler

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With all the recent talk of removing all reminders of the Confederacy, Confederate statues and Monuments seem to be threatened. I am curious as to the rationale for this movement and the criteria for removal. This is intended to be simply that discussion without modern politics or distractions to other topics.
 

marinegrunt

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I thinks it's as simple as a section of the population has gotten big enough to put it on the nation's front burner. From what I gather, there's always been vandalism against Confederate monuments; seems with the tragedy in Charleston it's gained steam.
 

Pat Young

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Thanks for starting this thread. I hope everyone who posts here abides by the intent of CM Winkler's OP.
 

marinegrunt

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Having said that, I will expand a bit on CM's post. Although he asks what the rationale for the removal is, I think it is equally important to understand the rationale for the placement of the statues and monuments.
Good point. Many of them were placed by organizations like the UDC. But I think the government allowed it in the spirit of sectional reconciliation.
 

Pat Young

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Monuments have a number of purposes. It is common to think that a statue, let us say of Robert E. Lee, has been placed in, let us say, New Orleans to honor a great man. This is no doubt part of the story, but there are typically other purposes at work as well.

I recently visited the Lafayette monument in Prospect Part in Brooklyn. I asked my girlfriend why it was there and she responded with the common reply that the Battle of Long Island was fought there and this was part of the commemoration of it. I told her to look at the year of erection, 1917. The statue did have a purpose of remembering Lafayette, but it also reminded Americans that we owed France and that it was fighting for its life against Germany.
 

NedBaldwin

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With all the recent talk of removing all reminders of the Confederacy, Confederate statues and Monuments seem to be threatened. I am curious as to the rationale for this movement and the criteria for removal. This is intended to be simply that discussion without modern politics or distractions to other topics.
First, I have trouble with the wording of the OP. I dont think there is talk of "removing all reminders of the Confederacy".

I think Pat raise a good point. For example, what was/is the rational for flying the flag over the state capital in the first place? Does that rationale make sense or have much support today?
 

marinegrunt

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Monuments have a number of purposes. It is common to think that a statue, let us say of Robert E. Lee, has been placed in, let us say, New Orleans to honor a great man. This is no doubt part of the story, but there are typically other purposes at work as well.

I recently visited the Lafayette monument in Prospect Part in Brooklyn. I asked my girlfriend why it was there and she responded with the common reply that the Battle of Long Island was fought there and this was part of the commemoration of it. I told her to look at the year of erection, 1917. The statue did have a purpose of remembering Lafayette, but it also reminded Americans that we owed France and that it was fighting for its life against Germany.
That makes sense. But what would be the purpose of a monument to Lee?
 

Pat Young

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That makes sense. But what would be the purpose of a monument to Lee?
Let us think of what purposes any statue might serve. None of these are novel reasons, nor is my list exclusive of other reasons which I invite folks to add to.

1. To recall a specific event-these monuments tend to be on the site of the event. Think of them as elaborate markers. I think of the Minuteman monument near the "rude bridge that arched the flood" is a good example. It symbolizes both an ideal, the selfless citizen soldier called from his plow to fight for freedom and then expected to return to civilian life at war's end.

2. To recall a specific person and associate him or her with a particular place-The statue of General Warren on Little Round Top is a well-known example of this. It associates him with the site and presumable with saving the Army of the Potomac. There is also a statue of Warren in Brooklyn with none of these associations. The Little Round Top statue also serves a purpose of interpreting the site on Little Round Top and helps us imagine Warren there on July 2, 1863. The Brooklyn statue does not do that.

3. Some statues and monuments are for purposes of mourning. We see these all over the South. Here in New York, the waterfalls at the World Trade Center serve that purpose.

Unfortunately, my break is over and I have to get back to work, but I'll revisit this thread later to add more.
 
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James N.

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Good point. Many of them were placed by organizations like the UDC. But I think the government allowed it in the spirit of sectional reconciliation.

Most Confederate monuments and memorials occur in the South where it was hardly necessary for "the government" to "allow" their erection. In NPS parks, it would be hard to deny them since there were Union ones.
 

NedBaldwin

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That makes sense. But what would be the purpose of a monument to Lee?
With the Statue of Lafayette in NY, Pat saw significance in the date it was placed.
The Lee statue in N.O. was placed in 1877, the year Louisiana was "redeemed" -- former Confederates triumphantly taking over the State from blacks and republicans -- in what some have called a coup.

Eit: Want to clarify something. Statue wasnt completed and dedicted until the 1880s; what happened in 1877 was that the City Council voted to put a statue of Lee on that spot.
 
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Capt. Glasgow

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I think that many people are misinformed about history, and unfortunately there is an enormous amount of pressure to remove lots of Confederate related items (flags, monuments, etc...) People seem to want to "fit" in with what society wants, good or bad. I would say that there is a problem, but when NPS and other historical related sites are asked to remove Confederate relics and such, then we REALLY have a problem. It may happen. Hopefully not.
 

Pat Young

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Some more reasons for
Let us think of what purposes any statue might serve. None of these are novel reasons, nor is my list exclusive of other reasons which I invite folks to add to.

1. To recall a specific event-these monuments tend to be on the site of the event. Think of them as elaborate markers. I think of the Minuteman monument near the "rude bridge that arched the flood" is a good example. It symbolizes both an ideal, the selfless citizen soldier called from his plow to fight for freedom and then expected to return to civilian life at war's end.

2. To recall a specific person and associate him or her with a particular place-The statue of General Warren on Little Round Top is a well-known example of this. It associates him with the site and presumable with saving the Army of the Potomac. There is also a statue of Warren in Brooklyn with none of these associations. The Little Round Top statue also serves a purpose of interpreting the site on Little Round Top and helps us imagine Warren there on July 2, 1863. The Brooklyn statue does not do that.

3. Some statues and monuments are for purposes of mourning. We see these all over the South. Here in New York, the waterfalls at the World Trade Center serve that purpose.

Unfortunately, my break is over and I have to get back to work, but I'll revisit this thread later to add more.

4. Statues are often erected to show that the city that erected them has a past worth memorializing.

5. A statue can be part of a contemporary political campaign. The Charleston Calhoun statue was begun three years before secession and was supported by the fire eaters.

What are other reasons?
 

diane

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About 40 years after the war there was a veritable blitz of monument building, especially - and almost exclusively - in the South. There were a number of reasons for this - it took years more to raise sufficient money there, for one thing - but I think it's also that many Confederate widows had raised their grandchildren. As we know, a lot of them were fierce defenders of their dead husbands, and there was a strong campaign after the war to discourage hero worship. This had a reverse effect. My particular interest is the Forrest statue in Memphis, and what prompted it to be erected and Willie, Forrest's son, to agree to remove his parents from where his father specifically wished to be laid to rest. Forrest was the target of a great deal of mud slinging during and after the war, even the obituaries in the Northern papers portrayed him as another Bloody Bill Anderson. In the Southern papers, he was St. Bedford of Forrest, the noblest of all the sons of the South. There was a sting of defeat - my grandfather was a good man, not a rebel. He fought for the true principles of this country, not against them. We know who these men really were, not the Yankees. We will give them the honor they deserve. I think that was a lot of the motivation, especially for the women of the South.
 

unionblue

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With all the recent talk of removing all reminders of the Confederacy, Confederate statues and Monuments seem to be threatened. I am curious as to the rationale for this movement and the criteria for removal. This is intended to be simply that discussion without modern politics or distractions to other topics.

"...Ideas about history legitimate and shape the present, and public presentations of history tell us a great deal about a society's values. As in other Southern states, statues of Confederate generals, Klansmen, and segregationists dot the South Carolina landscape. Although a statue was erected recently in Charleston to Denmark Vesey, and historic sites like Drayton Hall plantation and the National Park Service's Fort Sumter site have revised their presentations to deal directly with the black experience, South Carolina has no monument to the victims of slavery and hardly any to black leaders of Reconstruction or other eras. It took until 1998 for a portrait of Jonathan J. Wright, who served during Reconstruction as the first African-American justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, to join the paintings of all the state's white justices in the court building.

This warped public display of history confronts South Carolinians, white and black, every day with a stark message about who rules the state. South Carolina's leaders cannot abolish the hate that spews forth on the Internet. But if they are serious about changing the way the state remembers and represents its history, let them erect not only a memorial to Reverend Pinckney and the other victims but also statues of the black leaders of Reconstruction and of the courageous figures of the civil rights era such as Levi Pearson, who in 1947 filed suit against his child's school district to protest the inadequate funding of black education and saw his home attacked in retaliation..."

--Eric Foner

The entire article may be viewed at the following website:

http://www.thenation.com/article/210817/historical-roots-dylann-roofs-racism

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

ole

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Ya know? I don't care. Put up memorials or tear them down. Don't make me no nevermind. I can understand why someone is buried where he didn't want to be, but c'mon. He's been dead for a long time. The time for real resentment has passed. Go out and play ball with the kids. Do something usefull. And they don't have to be your kids. Just show them how grownups ought to act.
 

KLSDAD

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With all the recent talk of removing all reminders of the Confederacy, Confederate statues and Monuments seem to be threatened. I am curious as to the rationale for this movement and the criteria for removal. This is intended to be simply that discussion without modern politics or distractions to other topics.
Please forgive if I distract but I hope that its clear to all that modern politics is a significant rationale for many of those involved ......now carry on with the a discussion of the rationales that don't involve MP. I'm looking forward to learning of them.
 

CMWinkler

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"...Ideas about history legitimate and shape the present, and public presentations of history tell us a great deal about a society's values. As in other Southern states, statues of Confederate generals, Klansmen, and segregationists dot the South Carolina landscape. Although a statue was erected recently in Charleston to Denmark Vesey, and historic sites like Drayton Hall plantation and the National Park Service's Fort Sumter site have revised their presentations to deal directly with the black experience, South Carolina has no monument to the victims of slavery and hardly any to black leaders of Reconstruction or other eras. It took until 1998 for a portrait of Jonathan J. Wright, who served during Reconstruction as the first African-American justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, to join the paintings of all the state's white justices in the court building.

This warped public display of history confronts South Carolinians, white and black, every day with a stark message about who rules the state. South Carolina's leaders cannot abolish the hate that spews forth on the Internet. But if they are serious about changing the way the state remembers and represents its history, let them erect not only a memorial to Reverend Pinckney and the other victims but also statues of the black leaders of Reconstruction and of the courageous figures of the civil rights era such as Levi Pearson, who in 1947 filed suit against his child's school district to protest the inadequate funding of black education and saw his home attacked in retaliation..."

--Eric Foner

The entire article may be viewed at the following website:

http://www.thenation.com/article/210817/historical-roots-dylann-roofs-racism

Sincerely,
Unionblue

Dr. Foner obviously has a point. My question is, do we solve the problem he observes by removing all vestiges of the Confederacy, slavery and whites or do we try to balance by the addition of other representations? His recommendations for adding the memorials he suggested are fine with me so it will be interesting to see who steps forward to pay for them. Most of the Confederate statues were paid for privately.

In fact, in the Indiana capitol, there is a bust of Colonel Richard Owens. It was placed there in 1913. The money for this bust was raised by Sumner A. Cunningham, editor of The Confederate Veteran and given by many Confederate veterans. Colonel Owens was the first Commandant of Camp Morton where Cunningham had been held after his capture at Ft. Donnelson. Colonel Owen was noted for his care and compassion of the Confederate prisoners in his care.

As I said, I'll be interested in how all this sorts out. More monuments and memorials, not less are the answer in my view.
 
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