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How do we think about removing controversial statues in the US? Show more Show less
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Throughout the US, activists are calling for the removal of controversial statues, which most often depict individuals with slavery or colonization ties. These statues have long been a subject of debate, but the American public’s renewed attention to systemic, racially-motivated violence has brought this conversation into the forefront of public discourse. According to those in favor of removal, these monuments glorify individuals who supported racist institutions. They stand as relics to white supremacy and racial terror. Others argue that these statues must remain because they are a part of our story. Although this is a heinous aspect of our past, removing these statues would be an attempt to whitewash America’s history. So, what are the opinions around this debate?

"Individual states should make the call. A universal consensus is not necessary." Show more Show less

Any decision to remove controversial statues should reflect the voters' opinions. For this reason, it is best to allow states to make this decision independently.
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We should allow states to make this decision independently

The U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment protects states' right to make some decisions independently. We must follow this guideline and allow states to decide the fate of controversial statues.

The Argument

According to the US Constitution's 10th Amendment, "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."[1] As a founding principle of our nation, this amendment ensures that states can make some decisions independently, without intervention from the federal government. States have made independent decisions about the removal of symbols in the past. After the horrific mass church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, state officials chose to remove the Confederate flag from their Statehouse lawn. [2]Recently, they removed a statue of John C. Calhoun from Marion Square. [3] These decisions prove that states are entirely capable of assessing the merit of statues and then choosing to remove or preserve them. Our nation's founders knew this and trusted that state officials would use this power wisely, listening to the voices of their constituents and acting on their behalf. States' rights are an essential aspect of our government: we must not weaken them because of this issue. For this reason, we must allow states and local governments to make this decision independently.

Counter arguments

In years past, citizens have repeatedly asked their local governing officials to remove certain monuments. For the most part, these requests have been ignored. In light of this, it is clear that meaningful change regarding these statues will have to come from a higher level. If activists wait for their elected officials to make decisions regarding statue removal, they will lose the support of the wider community, which was sparked by the death of George Floyd. The movement will lose momentum and these statues will never be removed. It would also be much more time-efficient for the federal government to issue a statement about the removal of controversial statues, and it would save local governments hours of debate over this issue.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Because of the US government's structure, individual states have the right to make decisions independently. The Constitution's 10th Amendment ensures this arrangement. [P2] In the past, states have made decisions about controversial statues on their own, without intervention from the federal government. [P3] For this reason, we should leave decisions about controversial statues up to individual states.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-x
  2. https://abcnews.go.com/US/110-confederate-tributes-removed-2015-mass-killing-1700/story?id=55632449
  3. https://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/defying-law-charleston-remove-statue-slavery-advocate/QB2PYAUE3VHQJCHDFZ7F3QR3GE/

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This page was last edited on Saturday, 11 Jul 2020 at 06:26 UTC