Why you should care
Because what you believe is stitched together with a long history.
OZY and WGBH are bringing you a terrific new TV show, Third Rail With OZY — launching on PBS on Sept. 8. Every Wednesday, we’re debating hot topics in the lead-up to its launch. Last week, we asked: “Should Confederate symbols and statues be taken down?” You answered, and here are your thoughts, edited for clarity. Please check back tomorrow for next week’s question.
Yes, the statues should be removed and placed in museums. They are part of our history and should be preserved. I have less of a problem with the [Confederate] flag, although … [it] represents slavery and secession. No to flags on any public property. No to flags adjacent to any display of the U.S. flag, anywhere. The flag represents too many different aspects of Southern culture. And to take that away seems a stretch.
I think leaving the statues up is offensive to those who view them for what they truly mean — a dark time in our history that symbolizes oppression, slavery, lack of rights.… However, to remove them, I feel, is to deny, to pretend as if that part of history didn’t happen. The problem is much more than the statue — it’s how that symbol ties in with education, with racial profiling, with politics. [Putting them in museums] will make no difference if the education system isn’t teaching the truths of history to our newer generations.
The statue alone isn’t the issue. The ideology and the history behind it are the real issues. Removing or allowing these statues to remain will not change the history and atrocities tied to their presence.… Stop sweeping the real problems under the carpet because that only makes them grow stronger. On any other day … it would be just another hunk of metal that has no effect on anyone unless they have the knowledge of what it means.
Just a thought, maybe you should ask some white Southerners with children if they would mind sending their children to “Nathaniel Turner” high school. And [what if] in the local park where they play, there is a huge statue of him with [an] ax in his hand? Think they would mind? And exactly how would they explain who it was?
I adamantly oppose taking down any of the Confederate statues or any other statue that a group of people simply don’t like. I don’t like everything in my life either, but there comes a time when you put on your big-girl panties and realize that you are not going to like everything! These statues are all part of our history! Like it or not, we have lived it and come out way better. People need to get a life.
I can’t seem to stop going back and forth on this. When I first heard the Robert E. Lee statue in New Orleans was being taken down, I was opposed. I thought it foolish to be upset by a statue, a work of art. Then I read the speech by [Mayor] Mitch Landrieu and changed my mind. So true that the statue could be seen as representing a horrific event in our history and an insult to [Black] Americans. Then came the Charlottesville rally, which I think was an excuse [by] white supremacists to stage an event, show their strength and gain notoriety. And though I am glad it brought out protesters … it led to a horrible back-and-forth spewing of hatred by American citizens, which turned violent. And now the gates have opened, we are going to see a lot more of this — a kind of re-enactment of the Civil War, where we are violently fighting each other.
I talked with my son to get his take on it all. Though he does think Trump is guilty of not soundly rebuking white supremacists, he is anti-statue removal. “Robert E. Lee may not have been pro-slavery or pro-secession. He was just fighting to protect his home, his family and his state, so who can fault him for that?” he asked me. “He only joined the Confederacy because a family member did so. If not, he might have joined the Union.” And really, the Confederate army was made up of people who were still Americans, who went through battle and blood and injury and death. And many were not fighting for the right to own other people, but [for] the right to fight for their families and homes.
Overall, I am against all the effort and energy that is being put into this issue; for me, it doesn’t warrant it.
Confederate statues should not be removed. They are a part of our collective history. Lincoln wanted Robert E. Lee as his general, but Lee could not abandon his farm or family. Do we wipe out historical American icons because they offend some people? Ridiculous.
What I don’t understand is why all of a sudden are [the statues] becoming offensive when they have been up for years? I never thought they stood for repression. I’ve always thought they stood for American history.
It’s silly to say all of them should come down or all of them should stay up. My family was on the losing side of that war, so they should be remembered. Glorification of the leaders, especially those like Custer, is in poor taste. Remember the average people’s stories. Tell the gritty truth about history for a change. We lost an entire generation to this war.
Monuments on government grounds is a testament to what a state and country honor and revere. There is no honor or reverence for those who made treason and subjugation a critical part of their identity.