Friday, August 18, 2017

One of the silliest arguments I've heard against removing Confederate statues is that doing so is an attempt to "erase" or "rewrite" history. As if statues and monuments are accurate depictions of history. There is an old saying, often attributed to Winston Churchill, that "history is written by the victors"--in other words, by those in power. I think this is especially true when history is written in the form of statues and monuments. Statues and monuments, by their very nature, tend to elevate and aggrandize their subject. 

Fortunately, if one is honestly interested in learning history, there are these amazing things called "books" which can enable one to study history in detail and from multiple perspectives.

Of course, those Confederate statues were erected decades after the Civil War--often in the Jim Crow era from 1900 to 1920 (and also in the Civil Rights era of the 1950's through 1960's) by folks who wanted to make a statement. They lost the Civil War but retained their position of civic power and clung to the ideology behind the Civil War.

Another axiom about "history" is that history is not what actually transpired but rather the stories we tell about what transpired. Each of those stories is always told from a particular perspective because humans are subjective creatures. The perspective of history told by Confederate statues and monuments is narrow and hagiographical and entrenched in racist ideology. The beautiful thing about books on history is that one can read several accounts representing different perspectives and then make up one's own mind.

So lets remove the statues and promote reading instead.


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