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Historical Statues: Should They Stay or Go?

Protesters try to tear down monuments – what effect will this have on the U.S.?

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It is impossible to separate the death of George Floyd from the cries for justice in America over the last few weeks. The push against monuments dedicated to Confederate figures isn’t new, but it has resurfaced at a time when the debate over racism is at a peak in America. While some Confederate statues have been removed over the years, the focus then was on taking the monuments down through legal action. Now, statues have been toppled by angry mobs.

The Argument to Remove Statues

Talk about the legacy of Confederate statues in America did not begin in 2020. Black Lives Matter has pushed to erase all references to the Confederacy in public spaces for years. They claim that the history of slavery in America is shameful and that its legacy lives on today. Therefore, statues honoring these historical events and figures is to continue in racial discrimination.

The Argument to Keep Statues

There are various positions held by those who want to keep these monuments. Some suggest that to remove the statues would disguise America’s past and erase a significant aspect of Southern people’s history and ancestry.

More broadly, a common argument against removing historical monuments is that they do not necessarily honor the figures, but simply help us to remember them. Some claim that by keeping the past alive around us, we can better learn the lessons that history teaches, and avoid making the same mistakes again.

It’s No Longer Just About the Confederacy

George Washington

Some also argue that it’s a slippery slope from tearing down Confederate statues to destroying other monuments. This has proven true, as monuments of 18th president Ulysses S. Grant, renowned Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, and even America’s founding president, George Washington, have all been torn down or vandalized. Even the Washington, D.C. monument to Abraham Lincoln – the president who ended slavery in the U.S. – was defaced during recent protests.

Some also question what this does to achieve justice for the victims of racial injustice, such as Floyd.

Is the effort to remove historical statues going to bring positive change between the police and black Americans? Or do the protesters seeking to remove these monuments want to delete American history?

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Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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