How do we think about removing controversial statues in the US?

Throughout the US, activists are calling for the removal of controversial statues, which most often depict individuals with slavery or colonization ties. These statues have long been a subject of debate, but the American public’s renewed attention to systemic, racially-motivated violence has brought this conversation into the forefront of public discourse. According to those in favor of removal, these monuments glorify individuals who supported racist institutions. They stand as relics to white supremacy and racial terror. Others argue that these statues must remain because they are a part of our story. Although this is a heinous aspect of our past, removing these statues would be an attempt to whitewash America’s history. So, what are the opinions around this debate?

"We must remove these statues!"

These monuments support white supremacy and racial terror. They propagate a false version of our nation's history by romanticizing slavery, the Confederacy, and colonialism.

These statues venerate people who supported the dehumanization of others.

These statues depict people who supported horrific institutions. We should not honor them in our public spaces.

These statues were intended to promote white supremacy and racial terror.

The people who created these statues intended for them to be re-enforcing agents of white supremacy.

These statues romanticize the Confederacy

These statues promote a false narrative about the Confederacy, ignoring its ties with slavery.

These statues honor individuals who harmed indigenous people.

We should not venerate historical figures who drove indigenous people away from their homes. Honoring these figures is insensitive to native peoples' feelings and romanticizes colonialism.

"Individual states should make the call. A universal consensus is not necessary."

Any decision to remove controversial statues should reflect the voters' opinions. For this reason, it is best to allow states to make this decision independently.

We should allow states to make this decision independently

The U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment protects states' right to make some decisions independently. We must follow this guideline and allow states to decide the fate of controversial statues.

"We must not remove these statues!"

Although slavery was a horrific institution, it is a part of our history. We must preserve reminders of our past, trusting that "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." The historical figures facing this backlash were not completely evil and efforts to remove their statues are led by angry, violent, and irrational mobs.

Removing controversial statues erases history.

We must preserve all of our nation's history, even the problematic aspects of it.

The statue removal movement is an attempt to erase white Southern history.

Since the removal movement targets statues of white Southern historical figures, it is likely that this is an attack on white Southern history.

These people made morally questionable decisions but they weren't completely bad.

These statues depict people who made grievous mistakes, but they also did good. Removing their statues ignores all of the ways they improved society.

This movement is led by violent, angry mobs.

We should not consider this movement credible, because it is led by an angry, violent mob. Protesters are not toppling statues because they want racial injustice to end. They simply want to be destructive. Another variation of this view argues that this is an intentional attempt to attack Western democracy.

This discussion is a distraction from more urgent issues.

We should focus on more urgent issues of racial justice, like police brutality and over-incarceration, instead of pursuing purely symbolic acts of reform.

There are more urgent areas that need reform

By hyper-focusing on a relatively minor issue, protestors waste time and resources that could meet more urgent needs for reform.

We should remove some statues, but this movement has gone too far.

Although this movement started as a good attempt to remove symbols of white supremacy from public spaces, it now targets statues that should not be removed.

This movement might threaten all historical statues.

If we begin removing the monuments of all controversial figures, we will be forced to remove statues entirely, because every historical person is controversial in some way.
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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 26 Aug 2020 at 11:11 UTC