Take the Monuments Down

There is a difference between acknowledging history and celebrating it.


by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Writer

The vandalized “United Daughters of the Confederacy” monument taken down on Ward Parkway. (Eric Smith/KCTV)

Most, if not all of us, are aware of what recently happened in Charlottesville. If not, I will sum it up for you: All across our nation, there are statues commemorating Confederate soldiers. Just as most state governments have taken down their Confederate flags, there is a movement afoot for the removal of many statues dedicated to people who fought for the same cause.

Let me be clear: There are not “many sides” to this issue; there are racist, fascist bigots, who like to ignore the centuries of oppression slavery imposed, and there are those who fight to right the wrongs of the past. It is abundantly obvious which side these statues represent. America is supposed to represent freedom, and these monuments only promote bondage, and marginalization of black people across the United States. If you look at the timeline as shown by NPR, these monuments were not erected following a large anniversary of the Confederacy, but when white nationalists felt that black people needed to essentially be put in their place. This is blatant racism, and saying that these actions are condonable is saying that disenfranchising people for their skin color is condonable as well.

It is absolutely important that we do not erase or ignore history, but keeping up statues of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee does very little to condemn their actions. Robert E. Lee himself actually condemned Confederate monuments post-Civil War. To be frank, supporting and commemorating the Confederacy isn’t patriotism. It was a failed attempt to leave the United States, and as far as I’m concerned, failure and seceding from the country has very little to do with all America stands for. I consider myself to be a patriot, in that I believe in and stand for, what America can be. However, its dark past of treating others with cruelty is not something we should be proud of.

The only way to achieve any semblance of equality is progress. By holding onto our less-than-desirable past, we are stunting our potential growth as a nation. These monuments preserve an ideology that people have fought and died to end. Keeping them up tells people across America that their voices, and the voices of those before them, do not matter at all; that the struggle that began centuries ago is irrelevant. I, like many others, should not feel unwelcome in my own home. These monuments only make me feel like an outsider in a land I was born and raised in, and that is not okay.

So yes, take them all down. That’s making new, better history: one we should all be proud of.