argument top image

< 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 must not remove these statues!" Show more Show less

Although slavery was a horrific institution, it is a part of our history. We must preserve reminders of our past, trusting that "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." The historical figures facing this backlash were not completely evil and efforts to remove their statues are led by angry, violent, and irrational mobs.
< (3 of 5) Next position >

These people made morally questionable decisions but they weren't completely bad.

These statues depict people who made grievous mistakes, but they also did good. Removing their statues ignores all of the ways they improved society.
< (3 of 4) Next argument >

Vote

Not sure yet? Read more before voting ↓

Proponents


The Argument

Although these statues depict individuals who supported immoral institutions, we should not view their failures as a reason for the statues' removal. We should not allow their moral oversights to destroy their legacies, because these individuals contributed to the common good in many ways, despite having failed in some areas. The lives of two notable Civil War figures support this argument well. Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general but also served as president of Washington College, which is now known as Washington and Lee University. [1] Nathan Bedford Forrest, who oversaw the horrific Fort Pillow massacre and reportedly became the first grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, later denounced his racist past and promoted racial equality. [2] [3] Unfortunately, activists are now calling for the removal of both men's statues. Although these people obviously made huge mistakes, their monuments should remain in our public spaces. If we remove their statues, we would be demonizing them and ignoring their positive contributions to society. We should preserve their statues as symbols celebrating their acts of good, knowing that the public understands racism's evil without our condemnation of historical figures.

Counter arguments

Premises

[P1] These statues depict people who held morally wrong opinions and supported immoral institutions. [P2] However, these people were not completely evil- they contributed to the common good in other ways. [P3] We should not take down these statues, because these people deserve to be honored for the good they did.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/robert-e-lee
  2. http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/6866
  3. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/nathan-bedford-forrest

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020 at 19:40 UTC

Explore related arguments