Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts in The Atlantic, argue that by insisting on removing Confederate monuments, we risk sanitizing the nation’s racist past.
“Historical monuments are interpretations of one era but also artifacts of another. Confederate and proslavery memorials embody, even perpetuate, deeply flawed narratives of the Old South and the Civil War. Yet they also reveal essential truths about the time during which they were erected.”
“Why, one might reasonably ask, should we take down [the Confederate flag]—which, after all, is an artifact of the state’s embrace of massive resistance to the civil-rights movement—but not Confederate monuments? … Because there are salient, if somewhat slippery, distinctions between flags and monuments … Flags by their nature are symbols of governmental authority, while monuments do not always carry the same weight.”
“But the statues also bear mute witness to the Jim Crow culture that venerated men who initiated a bloody civil war to protect an inhumane institution. If they make the public uneasy, that is because this past is uncomfortable. Taking down Confederate flags, but allowing properly contextualized Confederate monuments to stand, strikes the right balance between promoting a complete picture of the past and respecting the needs of the present.”