The Gen. Robert E. Lee Monument is located on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. The large equestrian statue, which depicts the Confederate commander on his horse, Traveller, was created by French sculptor Jean Antonin Merci+?, and unveiled on May 29, 1890.  (Photo by Chuck Myers/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)


By Richard Ray:


There is so much discussion about the removal (or not) of Confederacy symbols throughout the United States. I have weighed in a few times now, and felt the need to do so once again, because quite frankly the different and dissenting opinions against the removal of the symbols is really quite confounding at this point.

One of the biggest arguments against the removal of Confederate monuments, statutes, flags and other symbols from public spaces is that they are an important part of the “South’s” history as well as the United States overall. There is absolutely no denying how important the Confederacy is in retelling the story of the “South” and US History.

However, all one has to do is look at the visceral reaction that White Supremacists/Nationalists have to their removal to understand that the Confederate symbols are absolutely tied in to ideology more than any purely historical relevance. The calls that the the Confederate symbols also represent tradition are as equally offensive to any argument that glosses over the proper historical content and ideology associated with any of those so-called traditions.

The Confederacy represented a group that wanted to secede from the United States almost primarily because of the declaration to abolish slavery. There is no way to romanticize this point, no matter how good you are at revisionist history telling. This is not about glorifying the valiancy of those that fought in a war… this is about glorifying and celebrating the ideology that they fought so hard to try and maintain. That ideology was racist… That ideology was by definition one of hatred and de-humanization. By all means the story should be told. It is a significant part of this country’s history… But, in no way should this continued to be celebrated and the emotional significance and attachment that hate groups place on these Confederate symbols (in the same way some attach to Swastikas) are a true reflection that it is not history that groups want memorialized, but the symbols of the ideology and remembrance and reminder of the way America was when Whites dominance was not only unquestioned but unrivaled.

Put these symbols in museums. Teach the history properly and fairly. History must be told and taught, but stop celebrating the ideology that these symbols glorify. You cannot hold onto symbols of racism, hatred and White Supremacy and then claim to be victims when people are no longer tolerant of the ideology that continues to be celebrated by the symbols. It is time for their removal from public spaces and put into venues where their history can be truly appreciated and told.




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