Recent debate has escalated on one of Americas less rosy side of its rich history. In 2015, Dylan Roof armed with a gun stormed a church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine people among them, women and children. Photographs of the shooter holding Confederate flags later turned up. It turned out that the gunman was a Confederate extremist and he believed in "white supremacy" (Levin).Kevin M. Levin is a historian and an expert on the American civil war and Jim Crow segregation laws and pre-modern America.
First in 2011, the statue of General Lee was vandalized and now in 2017 protests concerning the removal of Confederate monuments are rampant. The American Civil War pitted the Union North against the Confederate South. The Confederate States were pro-slavery but come 1865 they lost in the United States bloodiest war. The Confederate Flag is a symbol of the lost cause, one which we have no need (French).In the American South up to this day there are some monuments like General Lee's statue still standing, a reminder of the Jim Crow era in America.
The people who wish to have such monuments removed are mostly civil rights activists who want the future to be given more importance rather than focusing on our past. Of more importance is the opinion of residents who live in areas where these monuments have been erected. Do the residents feel like they need to be reminded of their racism-wreaked history and segregation policies? Levin argues that the contrary is true. He is one of many who feels that the monuments have been out there too long. The residents in many of these places which have these statues have always been indifferent to the monuments- in that they do not need to think about what they mean daily as they are going about their daily routines. In short, those who say that the monuments mean a lot to the local community are mistaken a lot.
Those who maintain that the monuments should be kept argue that the stark and dark history of America should be stared at in the face rather than ignore it. Experts who argue that the monuments should stay offer nationalist messages. In the National Review Magazine, Arthur Hermann speaks about Virginia statues and talks about how Abraham Lincoln pardoned the Confederate rebels in the 1860s. The author warns that extremists on both sides of the "stay" and "take down" divide should not dissuade us from the fact that Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War were all American citizens. Hence, the monuments are "not Confederate American if we think about it."
I tend to agree with the Stay side to some extent. The flags should be maintained and kept in museums, but they should not be waved in the air. This is a defiance to the constitution and the sovereignty of the United States of America. The monuments too should be protected in museums. The statue of General Lee was put up in 1924 in Lee Park decades after the Civil War had ended. Critical American monuments hence are not just reminders of the Civil War and the racial and discriminatory laws from the slavery era. These statues have direct importance to the American citizen for in history we learn how to approach the future and new forms of racism and discrimination.
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