I have been pokey in writing the response to Hyman’s commentary regarding the removal of Confederate statues, but the events of this last weekend shed new light on this issue. It almost seems beyond arguing how corrosive an effect these statues have on our nation now. Having said that, here’s my attempt to address Hyman’s pre-Charlottesville arguments.
The thesis of his commentary is there is a “fashionable” trend to remove of “Civil War monuments” (i.e. statues celebrating Confederate leaders/soldiers, although he intentionally phrases his remarks to make it seem like there is a move afoot to turn the Bloody Angle into a Chuck E. Cheese). This, Hyman argues, is to “ignore history.” Sure, that history has ugly aspects, but removing the statues will not change that. Rather, we should learn from our past.
Hyman’s claims are wrongheaded in any number of ways, not least of which is that he claims that by removing statues to Confederate leaders, there is an attempt to destroy or change history. But that’s simply false. No one is suggesting the name of Robert E. Lee or any other Confederate be stricken from history. Quite the contrary. The claim is that these statues themselves pervert history by holding up traitors as being worthy of communal respect and admiration as those who built the nation rather than ripping it apart.