Editorial: On Confederate monuments


The ISD Editorial Board argues all Confederate monuments need to be taken down because it does not accurately reflect American values.

Editorial Board

For the past few weeks, there have been more and more calls to tear down statues and monuments of Confederate leaders from the Civil War. Here is a list of all the monuments taken down — or that are about to be taken down — so far. 

Many argue that taking these monuments down is erasing history, but monuments aren’t history. They are meant to honor and glorify the people that they depict. That’s the purpose of a statue or a monument. Taking down a statue that glorifies an un-American cause won’t erase history, but it will send the message that the values represented by these statues are not welcome in America today.

Let’s not forget the people these statues are honoring are people who fought a war against the United States — and lost. They fought to leave the Union and were defeated. 

They were Americans, yes, but they didn’t want to be. It’s also important to note these are not memorials to the thousands of ordinary soldiers who died for the Confederacy; instead, they are monuments that glorify the architects and leaders of the Confederacy. Instead of memorializing the dead, these monuments honor those who actively betrayed their country.

They were traitors.

The context that these statues were put up in also matters. Many of them were erected in the late 19th and early 20th century — as a reminder to African Americans in the South that white people still held the power. Monuments were built at the same time Jim Crow laws were enacted and enforced. In the 1950s, many Southern schools were renamed after Confederate soldiers as a protest against the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which stated that segregation in schools was unconstitutional.  

Monuments to Confederate leaders are also glorifying white supremacy. It’s why so many of them were put up in the first place. They are symbols of oppression and give legitimacy to the cause of the Confederacy, which was to preserve the right of states to enslave people and expand slavery into Western territories.

Take down the monuments and place them in museums, where they can be given the proper context. Losing these monuments is not erasing history. We have books, films, classes, records, primary sources, historic battlegrounds, cemeteries, art and museums where we can learn about the Civil War. We will always remember what took place during this time.