Popular opinion: Removal of Confederate statues across the country


Founder of ‘Take Back Cheapside’ DeBraun Thomas speaks during the council meeting held to vote on the removal of two Confederate statues in downtown Lexington. The two statues include one of John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate general, and another, John C. Breckinridge, the last Confederate Secretary of War. The final, unanimous vote was taken on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

After the violence that shook Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, Aug. 12, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray decided to announce the removal of two Confederate statues in Lexington. Gray wants to remove the two statues from the old Fayette Courthouse and move them to Veterans Park near a War Memorial, so the statues can be represented appropriately.

All across the country, mayors are considering removing Confederate statues from their cities, which has stirred up a heated debate. Many people are in support of removing the Confederate statues, because they think the statues represent racist values and that those values have no place in society. Many people also think that by removing those statues, we are erasing our history.

Statues are not made to show history; they are made to honor someone or something. By keeping statues of Confederate soldiers and generals in a public area, what message are we sending to our black brothers and sisters? That “representing history” is more important than their rights?

There should be no debate as to whether slavery was a reason for the Civil War. In fact, every southern state that seceded issued an Article of Secession, in which every state provided a clear-cut defense of slavery.

State’s rights are also touted as reason for the Civil War. While that technically is true, the Confederacy fought for state’s rights to hold slaves. The Confederate State’s Constitution, however, does not guarantee those same state rights to its own states, for it says “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” No state in the Confederacy could make slavery illegal.

Despite the fact that most of the Confederate Army was made up of non-slave holders, some of whom were against slavery, those men were still complicit in trying to uphold a repugnant system of human ownership.

Unfortunately, many key structures in our history were built by slaves, including the White House and the Washington Monument. Many ask, should those be torn down as well? No, because those were not made to represent racist values and currently no such connotation exists for them.

Many of our founding fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, also owned slaves. Should we stop celebrating them too? The key to this is understanding nuance. We must acknowledge that the Founding Fathers did incredible things for the formation of our country, but at the same time must realize they did some questionable things, like owning slaves, as well.       

How does this all relate back to the Confederate statues? Arguments of keeping the statues because the Civil War was not about slavery are invalidated; Confederate states explicitly said that was a reason for secession. State’s rights were just an excuse touted in defense of slavery, and their hypocrisy showed in their constitution.

The Confederacy, unlike our Founding Fathers, did nothing good for the United States. Its sole purpose was to maintain slavery and keep white people in power. Mayors around the nation should make the right decision and take down Confederate statues, putting them in a museum, where people can learn about our history correctly.