Tear them down

Billie Firmin, Editor

Over 150 years after the end of the Civil War, debates are still raging over how the Confederacy will be remembered.

Over the past few years, state and local governments have been grappling with the decision of removing or preserving monuments dedicated to members of the Confederate States of America.

The conversation about removing symbols of the Confederacy began with the 2015 mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where white supremacist Dylann Roof entered a Black church and murdered nine people. Roof associated himself with the Confederate flag, which caused the government of South Carolina to make the decision to take down the Confederate flag at the state capitol.

Since these events, both state and local governments primarily located in the South have questioned taking down their own Confederate monuments.

The erection of Confederate statues and other monuments should never have taken place, and the fact that the monuments are only recently coming down is frankly embarrassing.

The Confederate States of America sought to divide the United States in order to preserve the institution of slavery- one that subjected millions of people to brutal conditions for nearly 250 years. Slaves in America were tortured, raped, and murdered, and families were separated from one another. As punishment, slave owners burned, mutilated, and whipped their slaves. These horrific events were legal and seen as normal in the United States for years, and when the federal government began to talk of banning slavery, eleven states seceded from the United States to form their own country where they could continue to use slave labor.

The majority of the memorials in the United States were built not directly after the Civil War, but during the period of Jim Crow segregation. The monuments were not created to inform the public of prominent members of the Confederacy but to intimidate and frighten African Americans. Personal heritage is not an excuse for wanting the statues to remain standing. There is no reason to be proud of having slave owners or Confederate generals in a person’s family history.

Confederate monuments should be removed from public spaces and relocated to museums. The purpose of museums is to educate those who visit, and there is nothing wrong with dedicating parts of history museums to the Civil War. But having the monuments on display to the public glorifies the men who actively tried to divide the country and were responsible for countless deaths.

Personal heritage is not an excuse for wanting the statues to remain standing. There is no reason to be proud of having slave owners or Confederate generals in a person’s family history.

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