Charlottesville was never about preserving history and if you’re one of the people trying to make that argument you are completely missing what’s happening here. All you have to do is look at who showed up to defend this statue of Robert E. Lee. Was it a bunch history professors or some little old ladies whose granddaddy served under the General? No, it was a bunch of neo-Nazis and KKK members. That is who views Lee as a hero – racists. This isn’t about remembering an important event in our nation’s history; its about memorializing men who went to war to preserve the very idea of White Supremacy. These current day Nazis and Klan members view themselves in the same light, they are willing to “stand up” for their misguided belief system just like the Confederates did.
This is exactly why these monuments need to go, because of the message they send, because they embolden ignorance, they empower hate. Erecting a 20 foot icon of a military commander in a public park is to lionize that man and his achievements. It says to the citizens who walk through that park every day: “Here is a noble person whom you should try to emulate.” The bigots in our country got the message loud and clear which is why they showed up in Charlottesville armed and ready to do battle, just like Robert E. did 156 years ago when his White Power was threatened.
No one is forgetting the Civil War anytime soon. No one is trying to erase history. But this is America, where we celebrate Freedom and those who choose to defend it. We have no place for idolizing enemies of Liberty, no stomach for any reverence of subjugation and oppression.