Restricted Why is it wrong to move monuments?

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18thVirginia

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I think it's a testament to a time in history people should not forget, and instead of seeing it as a negative thing, it should be used to teach the children, white and black, about the horrors of bigotry, and what racial tensions can lead to. Like all tragic parts of history, we can learn from it or repeat it. Let it stay as a monument to the dead, that people can remember why.

Well yes, what could be better to teach children than a monument where there's no thinly veiled racism--it just says it right there on the plaque?

And what better than a monument so steeped in a history of hate and a center for the gathering of white supremacists and anti-semites to let people remember....hate.

Personally, I think the thing should be ground into gravel, which they always have a use for in New Orleans.

I do think that we have to look individually at monuments, what their history is, what they were directed at, how people have tried, as with this one, to change the tone of the monument. And it seems that some, like this one, probably should at least go back in a warehouse. A monument to killing police just doesn't seem acceptable in the 21st Century.

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/reconstruction-150-the-liberty-place-monument-in-new-orleans.115809/
 
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unionblue

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I've got a great idea. Let's have a Confederate rememberance park in the swamps far outside of Charleston. They can move every monument ever made in rememberance of people who fought for what they thought was right - no matter what their version if right was. Then gradually the monuments will slowly sink into the muck! You like? Anyone? Class... Class...?

Instead of contributing to the hysterics of actions that are not about to take place, how about something serious, like taking each monument on a case-by-case basis and see why each was put in place, by who, and for what purpose, history, honor, or just crowing about how "we are in charge and there ain't nothing you can say about OUR monument."

Case-by-case, instead of a blanket demand to return to the early 20th century when large segments of the nation's population couldn't have any kind of voice in where and what type of monument was placed or have input on its actual meaning.

What say you? Instead of venting, how about a serious suggestion?

Unionblue
 

unionblue

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These are mostly monuments to US Veterans yes US Veterans !!! so we are to remove monuments to US Veterans ?????

distantinlaw,

You have got to take the time and read the very US Public Law 810 you yourself have posted on another related thread. What does it address? It is about the tombstones in cemeteries PERIOD.

You simply cannot give the blanket of "US VETERANS" over all of these monuments at all these locations. It won't work under the precept you are attempting to make.

Again, read the law, better yet, post it here in its entirety, so that all can see if you are correct in your view or not.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

Pat Young

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Some here have said that they do not think that monuments to Confederate veterans or the Confederate dead should be moved. Does that mean that you would be open to moving monuments to political figures like Jefferson Davis?
 

James B White

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I'll ask once again if people think that New Orleanians have a reasonable rationale for removing the Liberty Place monument. I've asked the question several times and have watched people "dance a little sidestep" rather than answer.
Just read the other thread about it. Of course the people of New Orleans have a good reason for removing it. It's a reminder of a time when whites openly intimidated blacks and other "undesirables" to keep them in their place. That kind of thing needs remembered, like all history, but a photo of the old inscription and monument in a museum can do that job just like old photos of Klansmen marching in the streets. We don't need real Klansmen marching to keep alive the memory of reconstruction, anymore than we need real monuments like Liberty Place.

It's surprising how recently white supremists still worshipped it.
 

tonijustine

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My definition of a monument and yours must be different. I view a monument as honoring. The statues at Gettysburg pay homage to those they represent. Both Northern and Southern. I believe history should be preserved and taught as close to the actual fact of what happened as possible. We need to study the evidence left to us. Right and wrong are both parts of history. The confederacy is more than history in the south. It's their heritage and in many cases their lineage. If you add heritage and lineage together the equation equals Identity. The victor and the defeated live on the same continent, we share many of the same things. The confederacy accomplished much beyond it's means in the fight for it's independence. Men such as Lee and Jackson became Southern hero's. In America its not just simply history its heritage. Now that being said lets look at atrocity, should monuments be constructed to atrocities that occurred or the people that facilitated them. Of course not, one would not expect to see a statue of John Brown in Kansas unless the display was located at a site where Brown committed one of his atrocities. Then if it were there, along with the proper education information, it is not honoring, it is reporting history. It happened you can't erase it. If we remove them all who's to stop the teachings of history in what ever version suits the teachers fancy.

I think even those monuments that honor someone can be seen as educational. Because the interpretation they highlight of a particular person or event speaks to the social values, and the power structure, when they were erected.

To link in another discussion on this thread, history shouldn't be about opinion (though because it is more than just a recitation of facts and requires interpretation, opinion can't be eliminated from the study of history) and those of us who are serious students understand that the best history available to study is primary documents. So here are the primary documents of the journey from the Civil War to Civil Rights. Were I asked my opinion (let's pretend I was), I would probably say that I really believe that these aren't Civil War monuments at all and removal of them severs the link between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement.

I wonder if some of the heat would be turned down if we (not specific to on this forum or historians in general, but we as in the public) could view these monuments this way. That makes them a very materially expensive version of things like the Mississippi Declaration of Causes, the Cornerstone Speech, even the Confederate Constitution (if the original documents still exist)....documents that contain offensive statements, but that have historical value in placing the acts of the people of that time in context.

Of course, that does require the populace to be more educated on historical method and the importance of primary documents than I think the general public is at this time, but I am NOT getting on my soapbox about that. And I wonder if there would be a very vocal minority asking for the destruction of these documents that claim, in essence, that African Americans were created inferior, because the historical documents represent values not shared by the majority of society today.

In any event, moving monuments is less distasteful to me than completely destroying them, but I think that motive behind the move is important. That means that there is no one size fits all solution and we are going to have to rely on common sense (*sigh*) which seems to be in short supply in general these days.
 

NedBaldwin

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To link in another discussion on this thread, history shouldn't be about opinion....
And then you go on to give lots of opinion.


I think even those monuments that honor someone can be seen as educational. Because the interpretation they highlight of a particular person or event speaks to the social values, and the power structure, when they were erected.

As societal values and power structures evolve, so should the ways of expressing them.
 

Henry Whitworth

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I think even those monuments that honor someone can be seen as educational. Because the interpretation they highlight of a particular person or event speaks to the social values, and the power structure, when they were erected.

To link in another discussion on this thread, history shouldn't be about opinion (though because it is more than just a recitation of facts and requires interpretation, opinion can't be eliminated from the study of history) and those of us who are serious students understand that the best history available to study is primary documents. So here are the primary documents of the journey from the Civil War to Civil Rights. Were I asked my opinion (let's pretend I was), I would probably say that I really believe that these aren't Civil War monuments at all and removal of them severs the link between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement.

I wonder if some of the heat would be turned down if we (not specific to on this forum or historians in general, but we as in the public) could view these monuments this way. That makes them a very materially expensive version of things like the Mississippi Declaration of Causes, the Cornerstone Speech, even the Confederate Constitution (if the original documents still exist)....documents that contain offensive statements, but that have historical value in placing the acts of the people of that time in context.

Of course, that does require the populace to be more educated on historical method and the importance of primary documents than I think the general public is at this time, but I am NOT getting on my soapbox about that. And I wonder if there would be a very vocal minority asking for the destruction of these documents that claim, in essence, that African Americans were created inferior, because the historical documents represent values not shared by the majority of society today.

In any event, moving monuments is less distasteful to me than completely destroying them, but I think that motive behind the move is important. That means that there is no one size fits all solution and we are going to have to rely on common sense (*sigh*) which seems to be in short supply in general these days.

I don't buy the "educational" rationale for things that loom over our public spaces in obvious positions of honor. There's just no rational comparison between the meaning and affect of an heroic statue in a park and an old document in a museum.

There's no way around the fact that, generations after the war, the white people of some regions built these things to glorify the Confederacy. In what nation would there ever be such an enormous amount of building to honor the heroes of a defeated rebellion? And it was still going on 60 or 70 years afterwards. It happened here because following generations were still fighting for white supremacy and the rebel generation became their martyrs.

It was never appropriate to hoist these things up so why should we be so afraid of taking them down?
 
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tonijustine

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And then you go on to give lots of opinion.




As societal values and power structures evolve, so should the ways of expressing them.

I sure do give opinions. But that is OK. Because nowhere did I even remotely imply that my opinions were to be considered historical study. I am not publishing a book proclaiming to have authority on a subject. No reason to be argumentative just to be argumentative.

Also, yes, our societal values change. Which we should see in our marking of history. Unless of course, we remove a link in that chain. Think of it as a conjunction. It links thoughts together to tell a coherent story and provide a complete thought.
 
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Many of the statues were not site specific. They were made along a common model and dozens are essentially the same statue. This allowed villages to purchase relatively cheap monuments. In the case of these mass produced statues, would you not object to moving them if the local community wanted to?

Some here have said that they do not think that monuments to Confederate veterans or the Confederate dead should be moved. Does that mean that you would be open to moving monuments to political figures like Jefferson Davis?

Pat, I'm sorry, I would neither. I like monuments, I don't want to see any of them removed.
Only a few days ago I went to a little town in our vicinity, Celle, home to Albrecht Thaer (1752-1828), the father of modern agriculture. The Thaer statue always stood where it stands now. It has seen the place change over the last 200 years, the spot was first surrounded by wheat fields (which was very appropriate, of course), then it was a park with a green and now it is the middle of a crossing of the two major thoroughfares. You could sure imagine a better place for the statue, but that was the place where it was erected. The city changes, the monument stays. I like the thought that there is continuity.

I would not want the local community to decide, because I doubt that "ordinary" people know enough and therefore are prone to listen to the loudest voice. I hope that everyone has voted for representatives in the city council whose job it is to be informed and decide.

And I would not exclude monuments of political leaders. Their reign is part of our - or in this case your - history. There may be times when these monuments might be less cared for. Or some are so ugly you would wish them to just rot away. But I would not remove them. They may still serve to remind us that there were much worse times than we live in now!
 

James B White

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I think even those monuments that honor someone can be seen as educational. Because the interpretation they highlight of a particular person or event speaks to the social values, and the power structure, when they were erected.
I think the main problem is practicality, because I agree with your premise that these are historical artifacts of their time. Every building from pre-1920 can't be preserved, for example, even though each is a unique example of historic architecture and various historic activities over time, so people tend to pick what seems most practical to preserve and explain.

A couple of examples that keep coming to mind are the old slave market in Charleston and the slave pen from Kentucky moved to the Underground Railroad museum in Cincinnati. They're preserved symbols of commerce from another era and people aren't generally upset with them, because they're so few. But imagine a preserved slave market taking up space in the downtown of most every city or large town, with the residents pressured to leave it there as a memorial of a bygone era. It would soon become uncomfortable.
 

tonijustine

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I don't buy the "educational" rationale for things that loom over our public spaces in obvious positions of honor. There's just no rational comparison between the meaning and affect of an heroic statue in a park and an old document in a museum.

There's no way around the fact that, generations after the war, the white people of some regions built these things to glorify the Confederacy. In what nation would there ever be such an enormous amount of building to honor the heroes of a defeated rebellion? And it was still going on 60 or 70 years afterwards. It happened here because following generations were still fighting for white supremacy and the rebel generation became their martyrs.

It was never appropriate to hoist these things up so why should we be so afraid of taking them down?



I don't think it is irrational to consider a monument put up by Confederate memorial groups to commemorate their ancestor's service in a time when they again had a voice and power and influence during a time period which created an environment that ultimately led to Jim Crow laws, the rise of white supremacists and ultimately the Civil Rights Movement to be a primary document.

There are other primary documents that were created by people who had a voice, power and influence and that speak even more directly to their belief in the inferiority of a particular human race and the positive good of their human bondage in words that are pretty easy to understand.

That the public doesn't know about The Mississippi Declaration of Causes, et al--which is absolutely clear as I have had to pull them out and directly quote them on any number of occasions when discussing this topic on forums with broader public appeal like Huffington Post and Yahoo--doesn't make the comparison any less appropriate.

There are a lot of irrational voices in this discussion at this time, many of them simply because they are offended about *something* (I would like to point to the Apple App debacle of last month when Apple overreacted and got caught looking foolish for their knee jerk reaction). I don't for one minute doubt that there wouldn't be some people calling for the destruction of these documents like they are for the destruction of monuments if they knew they existed (I assume they are being preserved, except for the Cornerstone Speech which never had a written original to my knowledge).

The question is when does that irrational super minority get listened to? When we stop using common sense.

The reason we should be cautious about taking them down goes back to my belief that the value of historical study is putting things in context. Facts, names, dates, places mean nothing if we don't understand what lead up to the event or what came out of it. The indiscriminate removal of these statues severs the link--interrupts the continuity-- of the story about what came from the Civil War and what eventually lead to the Civil Rights Movement.

Why were African American's so eager to face down the police and other government agents at the risk of their own life and health? Was it because they didn't get choice seats on the bus? Was it because they had to drink from separate water fountains? Was it because they were not allowed into the same schools? Not really, no. Those were simply symptoms of the underlying disease, their overall oppression by a white ruling class.

Outside of this forum, how many people have a visceral connection to a story in a book? How many more people would be reached in a meaningful way by standing at the foot of a monument and seeing that it was placed in a time when African Americans were intimidated into not voting? Were lynched because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time? How much more impactful is it to see their convictions written in stone with the implication that these things would never change?

That is why I think these statues still have value.
 

tonijustine

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I think the main problem is practicality, because I agree with your premise that these are historical artifacts of their time. Every building from pre-1920 can't be preserved, for example, even though each is a unique example of historic architecture and various historic activities over time, so people tend to pick what seems most practical to preserve and explain.

A couple of examples that keep coming to mind are the old slave market in Charleston and the slave pen from Kentucky moved to the Underground Railroad museum in Cincinnati. They're preserved symbols of commerce from another era and people aren't generally upset with them, because they're so few. But imagine a preserved slave market taking up space in the downtown of most every city or large town, with the residents pressured to leave it there as a memorial of a bygone era. It would soon become uncomfortable.

I think the greater practical driving factor in those cases is more likely to be economics, though. As in, we can't preserve this much land in prime real estate area. We will get more taxes from a mini-mart or office building or new homes than an empty piece of preserved historical ground.

And ultimately, I think that many municipalities will also be swayed by the practicality of economics here, too. How much money does it take to relocate a monument? In cases where the municipalities are broke, doesn't it make more sense to commit their limited funds to projects that actually help people like job training and afterschool programs and things of that nature that have a demonstrable impact on people's lives.
 

NedBaldwin

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That the public doesn't know about The Mississippi Declaration of Causes, et al....

So should we built a temple on the Mall in Washington DC to house the Mississippi Declaration.
We could chisel its words on the outside of the building for all to see so that everyone would know of it.


The reason we should be cautious about taking them down goes back to my belief that the value of historical study is putting things in context. Facts, names, dates, places mean nothing if we don't understand what lead up to the event or what came out of it. The indiscriminate removal of these statues severs the link--interrupts the continuity-- of the story about what came from the Civil War and what eventually lead to the Civil Rights Movement.

Why were African American's so eager to face down the police and other government agents at the risk of their own life and health? Was it because they didn't get choice seats on the bus? Was it because they had to drink from separate water fountains? Was it because they were not allowed into the same schools? Not really, no. Those were simply symptoms of the underlying disease, their overall oppression by a white ruling class.

Outside of this forum, how many people have a visceral connection to a story in a book? How many more people would be reached in a meaningful way by standing at the foot of a monument and seeing that it was placed in a time when African Americans were intimidated into not voting? Were lynched because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time? How much more impactful is it to see their convictions written in stone with the implication that these things would never change?

That is why I think these statues still have value.

So should we re-institute segregation on buses so people can experience that visceral connection and the link to the past would not be broken. We could put up 'No Blacks Allowed'/'White Only' signs around town because without the lesson of the signs there is a broken link to history.
 

Lt.Drake

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I would hope that preservation of US history doesn't rest on those with vested interests in "The practicality of economics". It's those people who started the war to begin with...

And why can't we take it down a little bit with the rhetoric? There's a big difference between a marble slab commemorating the souls of those killed in a terrible racist lynching, and not allowing blacks on the bus. BIG Golf Delta difference. Only the intellectually unenlightened could draw such an inference.

I'm beginning to think we should take down ALL monuments and statues in this country. All of them. From every war and time period. And take history out of school. That way, everyone can walk around with little American Flags singing "I'm Proud to be an American" without having to worry about what that means.
 
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Instead of contributing to the hysterics of actions that are not about to take place, how about something serious, like taking each monument on a case-by-case basis and see why each was put in place, by who, and for what purpose, history, honor, or just crowing about how "we are in charge and there ain't nothing you can say about OUR monument."

Case-by-case, instead of a blanket demand to return to the early 20th century when large segments of the nation's population couldn't have any kind of voice in where and what type of monument was placed or have input on its actual meaning.

What say you? Instead of venting, how about a serious suggestion?

Unionblue
Certainly, people didn't take that comment as serious, of course it was pure sarcasm. The problem that I see with all this is that someone is always gonna be offended by something. You can't take a popular vote on something where the "offended ones" might be the minority still, because if you do, the minority generally won't get their way. That means that if something "seems" like it might be offensive to someone, a bunch of "do-gooders" from outside said community might think that the "offensive thing" should go away, create an uproar when one isn't needed and create the circus that is taking place now.

The only monument that I'm aware of that serves no purpose and is there just to be in someone's face is the cartoon Forrest monument on I-65 outside of Nashville. It is not a work of (fine) art, its location doesn't pinpoint anything and it was apparently placed there just to get a rise out of people.

There just isn't anything anyone can suggest that would be feasible for both parties - that is, supporters one way or the other. That's why I laugh at all of this mess. I have my opinion, which I think I've stated, but it's I'm pretty sure someone will re-butt my opinion shortly. Wait... that would be offensive to me. :wink:

I just can't see moving monuments for a few. If we start that precedent, then streets will be renamed, buildings will be renamed... wait - that has already happened! :cry:
 
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