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 moreShow 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.
The statue removal movement is an attempt to erase white, Southern history. For the most part, activists are calling for the removal of statues that depict famous individuals in white history, like Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson.  What do all of these historical figures have in common? They were all white Southerners.
Although protesters claim that their anger is due to these figures' racist opinions, the movement has targeted people that did not support racist institutions. A statue of Ulysses S. Grant was recently toppled by a group of protesters. Grant was a general for the Union Army, which fought to end slavery. A monument to Abraham Lincoln has also faced significant backlash.  Abraham Lincoln signed the famous Emancipation Proclamation, which was a significant step toward freedom for slaves. If this movement is truly a crusade against racism, why remove the statues of two men who worked to abolish slavery?
In light of this, it is likely that supporters of this movement do not simply want to remove symbols of racism from our public spaces. Instead, they want to use this argument as an excuse to erase important figures of white, Southern history.
[P1] Most controversial statues depict white people and famous figures in white history.
[P2] The people who want to remove these statues want to remove them to erase white history.