Our History… The Statues… Our Checkered Past
There’s been a lot of animosity surrounding statues lately. And in many cases rightfully so.
Christopher Columbus statues across the country are coming down or being boxed up, in a case of Philadelphia.
It is a time of reckoning about our past in this country. Symbols of oppression and hate need to come down.
But this is where I have trouble. I’m a history buff. I was a history major in college, along with journalism. I grew up going to see Civil War battlefields with my dad. I grew up amongst the remnants of the American Revolution.
Our past is spotty. There is no arguing that. I agree with taking down statues whose only reason is to remind people of white power and racism.
But I get concerned when history gets erased.
Being Jewish the Holocaust is burned into my brain at an early age. There are many who want to erase that past, but there are many reasons why we should not and cannot. But this post isn’t about that past. It’s about America’s history.
Today in the New York Times there was an excellent article about the statues coming down across the country. The author made a good point. Put many the statues in museums with documents detailing why they’re not erected outside anymore and about the history of these people. So that we can learn from the past, not erase it.
When some people in Philadelphia turned up with bats and firearms to protect a Christopher Columbus statue, we know we’ve got a problem. That’s taking your heritage way too far.
It’s a statue. If anyone knows a good Italian family, you know you can’t take that culture away from them. Nor would you want to.
Yet I’m the same breath, I struggle with taking down statues especially at historic places, like Gettysburg and other battlefields. I feel like the statues help explain what happened on these hallowed grounds. But having a Robert E. Lee statue from the 1950s in downtown Richmond is inappropriate.
Having Confederate statues in our nation’s capital building is ridiculous.
I’m not saying destroy these monuments. I’m saying put them somewhere where we can learn about the history behind the people depicted.
I guess where I stand is, take down these monuments, but preserve them so we can learn from them — our past.