Should Statues Stay or Go?

Photo%3A+Mike+Lynaugh+from+flickr.com
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Should Statues Stay or Go?

Photo: Mike Lynaugh from flickr.com

Photo: Mike Lynaugh from flickr.com

Photo: Mike Lynaugh from flickr.com

Photo: Mike Lynaugh from flickr.com

Alex Broening and Larry Jia

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Question: Do you believe that the statues of Confederate generals on Monument Avenue should be taken down?

 

Yes, the statues should be removed from Monument Avenue:

By Alex Broening

While the question of what to do with the statues of Confederate generals in Richmond has been ongoing, only recently has the option of removal been added to the table. Across the country, the potential solutions have been examined and discussed, and in some cases, action has been taken. The debate over the statues has become a rallying cry for many southern conservatives, and even a surprising number of liberals object to their removal as well. While these opinions are all valid and of worth, the majority of people overlook the real meaning of the statues, and the message they spread.

Many believe the statues should remain because they believe that the statues don’t contribute to racism in any way. While that is hard to prove one way or another, that line of argument overlooks a central component of the discussion: what the statues actually mean.

The context in which the statues were erected is quite often ignored. The statues were not put up directly following the civil war. The majority of the statues were erected between 1900 and 1930, not directly following the war. They were not put up by the generals’ friends and relatives, in order to celebrate their bravery and honor; to their creators, the statues commemorated an old way of life that relied on repression and the exploitation of others. They were intended to demonstrate white dominance, celebrate the system of discrimination, and essentially to frighten African Americans into submission.

Whether we like it or not, that was the context for their creation, and that is the message they continue to spread. Regardless of how individuals view the statues, the reason for their creation is central to the message they send to the outside world. We have to ask ourselves the question: are these the values we want to represent Richmond?

I believe that the statues don’t represent the Richmond of today and its values, and while the lessons of history should not be forgotten, the statues of Confederate generals do not serve as reminders of the lessons we have learned, or of the bravery they demonstrated. The statues, representing a certain view in an important part of our history, should not disappear entirely. However, they simply cannot be allowed to remain as a symbol of Richmond and its citizens.

 

No, the statues on Monument Avenue should stay:

By Bikal Sharma

In 20th Century America, a mass removal of Confederate statues in any southern city would have been met with outrage and disbelief. In 2017, many of those sentiments continue to surface in the southern population and political sphere. Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia has become a hotbed of political and racial discourse concerning its very prominent display of Confederate Generals immortalized in stone. Many see the statues as a disgrace to the state’s extensive black history and pride. However, from the perspective of a Virginian, patriot, and person of color, there is no question to be asked. No matter how much injustice was done at the hands of the Confederacy, those tall and imposing monuments of Confederate Generals must remain exactly where they are.

The removal of Confederate Statues on Monument Avenue is erasure of history, plain and simple. The notion that the monuments themselves inspire racial discrimination is completely misguided. Racism exists as a result of complex historical and social factors. History itself contains horrible and unjustifiable institutions, such as slavery, but it is still our history. Destroying and censuring the history of our nation, state, and city dooms us to forget it. So, let those Confederate statues stand tall on Monument Avenue. Let them stand, not for racism or the modern alt-right, but for the countless people killed when brother turned against brother, the innumerable people of color enslaved and segregated, and the unbreakable bonds that hold us together as one people of the United States of America. The Confederate Statues on Monument Avenue, as well as the monuments all around the nation, must continue to stand and remind of us of our past. We must never destroy, censure, or forget the story of racism, injustice, and blood that stained our nation for centuries, lest the day we erase history becomes the day we repeat it.

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