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< Back to question How do we think about removing controversial statues in the US? Show more Show less

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?

We should remove some statues, but this movement has gone too far. Show more Show less

Although this movement started as a good attempt to remove symbols of white supremacy from public spaces, it now targets statues that should not be removed.
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This movement might threaten all historical statues.

If we begin removing the monuments of all controversial figures, we will be forced to remove statues entirely, because every historical person is controversial in some way.
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The Argument

The statue removal movement started as a positive cause. It questioned the presence of statues that honor racism and white supremacy in our public spaces. However, it has gone too far, because activists are now calling for the removal of all statues that depict individuals with any sort of problematic ties. As a result, the statues of all historical figures will soon be in danger, because there is no completely blameless historical figure. Like us, they were fallible human beings who were guilty of wrongdoing. For example, a statue of George Washington was recently toppled in Portland, Oregon.[1] If a statue of America's first president is in danger because of Washington's mistakes, it is likely that all historical monuments will face the same fate. In order to prevent this, this movement's supporters must do a better job of distinguishing between statues that honor racist ideologies, and those that honor individuals who made positive contributions to society but happened to make mistakes. There is a big difference between statues that honor treasonous Confederate generals and those that honor our nation's founders.

Counter arguments

This argument wrongly assumes that the most extreme opinions on statue removal represent those of most activists. If protestors were calling for the removal of every imperfect figure's statue, they would all be removed. However, the majority are not calling for such dramatic action. They understand the situation's nuance and are only calling for the removal of statues that blatantly support racism.


[P1] No historical figure was perfect- they all held problematic views. [P2] If we strive to take down the monuments of all figures who held wrong opinions, we will be forced to remove all monuments.

Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Monday, 13 Jul 2020 at 01:10 UTC