Faceoff: Confederate Statues

Madeline Bierfass and Cecilia Taylor

Confederate Statues: Monuments to Slavery

By: Madeline Bierfass

Should there be a statue of Adolf Hitler in Germany for all to see? Obviously not, because it would be extremely disrespectful to Holocaust survivors as well as many people all over the world. A debate similar to this is taking place in the United States right now: should the country keep monuments of Confederate leaders standing, or should they be taken down? The United States has a duty to the African American community to take down these monuments because they memorialize the hate and racism that was all too prevalent during a time when slavery was considered normal.

In US History I, students learn about the causes and effects of the Civil War, and the mistreatment of slaves and African Americans in the South. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army tore the country apart in an effort to keep their slaves and preserve their racist ways of life. The Confederate statues, such as the one of Robert E. Lee, represent a group willing to sacrifice their men to maintain their racist practices and to abuse, as well as torture, an entire race. An African American walking past these statutes would see their ancestor’s abusers glorified.

An argument I hear from people in support of the statues is that they are part of our history; but are they really? When the South seceded from the United States, also referred to the Union during this time, they considered themselves a new country called the Confederate States of America. Robert E. Lee and other Confederates that are memorialized fought for that country, not the United States. These statues are not a part of United States history, but the history of a country that no longer exists. Besides the moral reasons for taking down the statues, why should we keep statues of leaders from a country that we defeated over 150 years ago?

To put it simply, Confederate statues do not belong in this country. They symbolize a place and society that was oppressive and cruel, the complete opposite of what the United States strives for. We have become known as a country that is accepting and full of opportunity for every race and religion. The Confederate statues of the past should not be present in current-day America.

Confederate Statues: Reminders of the Past

By: Cecilia Taylor

Recently there has been some controversy surrounding the issue of confederate monuments. Namely, whether these monuments should be allowed to stay where they are, or whether they should be taken down and replaced with unoffensive sculptural works. While it is a given that these monuments were not constructed with pure intentions, I think that they should be allowed to stand, despite what they once stood for.

History needs to be remembered as those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it. This is applicable in the case of these confederate monuments, especially in the current political climate, where the nation is divided as it has not been since the Civil War. Although the issues today are politically based rather than based in general ideology like in the case of the Civil War, the monuments should stand as reminders of what once happened nonetheless.

It is the consensus today that the Union was the morally correct body in the Civil War, and I do not believe that leaving the Confederate monuments standing opposes this point. Instead, I believe that leaving the Confederate monuments where they are serves as a potent reminder to the nation that America was once divided to a point where a bloody battle was fought to determine whether or not people should be allowed to be seen as property, as opposed to people, based purely on the color of their skin. The people in the monuments, despite their racist and incorrect views, should nonetheless be humanized, as this will allow for the rest of the nation to further understand that there were numerous motives behind the Civil War, from economic issues, to sectional tension, to slavery.

To take down the monuments would be to hide and cover up the flaws that comprise an integral part of American history. Memory is powerful, and leaving the Confederate statues standing would provide a powerful reminder of the atrocities once committed in the name of what the Confederacy believed was right. The people of America should never forget the Civil War, the motivations behind it, and how it ended. They should never forget the plight that the slaves faced when they were brought to America, and how America’s economies, both north and south, depended largely on the slave trade. Leaving confederate monuments where they are provides a powerful reminder to the people in America of the violence and racism that once, and, to an extent, currently, divided the nation.