Confederacy, to the museums

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Attribution: C. Bedford Crenshaw

History is better appreciated and valued in museums; this is especially true for confederate history. Confederacy, and the U.S. Civil War itself, was a tragic period of time that people have many different opinions about. Some people have acknowledged that side of U.S. history and have learned from it, while others prefer to ignore that side of history in order to see only the good side of the U.S. However, in a study conducted in 2011 by The Pew Research Center, they found that 48 percent of Americans think that the main cause of the civil war was primarily about states’ rights and only 38 percent think it was mainly about slavery.

That’s where ignorance and misinformation starts. Many people aren’t aware of the whole story and the actual facts about the Civil War and that it was about keeping laws regarding slavery untouched and protected from being abolished in the future. People who support the confederacy base their opinions on misinformation that may have passed from one generation to another. Furthermore, many people have relatives who fought in the Civil War, specifically for the Confederate side, and even though personal motivations may have varied from person to person at that time, they fought on the wrong side of history and for values that couldn’t possibly be imagined in this century. So, why should we commemorate generals or high-ranking individuals that fought for the oppression of others?

Statues and memorials named after a person are one of the most respectful ways one can remember influential figures. Those who have a statue or a memorial named after them usually accomplished something that’s worth remembering. People like Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Amelia Earhart are a few of the many important figures in U.S. history that are worth remembering for all the courage and their contributions to history. Many would argue that Washington owned slaves, and in fact he did. However, he expressed reservations about slavery during his career. He’s remembered for being the first president of the U.S. and commander-in-chief of the colonial armies during the American Revolution. With this perspective, I can name many people who deserve a statue rather than a confederate general.

One of the most controversial statues that has sparked public interest in recent months is Robert E. Lee’s statue located in Charlottesville, Va. When the city’s counsel decided to remove the statue, many Alt-right people organized the famous “Unite the Right” as a way to protect the monument from being taken down. Regarding this statue, there are several factors worth considering about the controversial decision of removing it. Robert E. Lee himself said in a proposal that “… the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; [and] of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.” In short, he said erecting a monument would be detrimental to their pride and ultimate goal. I can totally agree with his own words regarding this issue. As of now, the fate of this confederate statue, among others, is in legal disputes.

In the end, statues should be built and exposed in public view for those that had a positive impact in history. The remaining confederate statues should all be displayed in an exhibition about the confederacy. That way the value these monuments hold and what they represent could be better appreciated and seen as a teaching tool to learn from our past in every way possible.

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