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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?

"We must remove these statues!" Show more Show less

These monuments support white supremacy and racial terror. They propagate a false version of our nation's history by romanticizing slavery, the Confederacy, and colonialism.
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These statues honor individuals who harmed indigenous people.

We should not venerate historical figures who drove indigenous people away from their homes. Honoring these figures is insensitive to native peoples' feelings and romanticizes colonialism.

The Argument

We should remove statues of certain historical figures because of their treatment of indigenous people. The cases of Christopher Columbus and Andrew Jackson illustrate this point well. Although some historians question this, Columbus is often credited with discovering America. Regardless of whether he was really the land's first explorer, Columbus contributed significantly to the colonization of North and South America. For indigenous people, these colonization efforts resulted in hundreds of years of suffering. He also personally treated native people cruelly, enslaving or killing many of the West Indies' indigenous people. [1] Andrew Jackson was America's seventh president and an avid supporter of "Indian removal." [2] During his presidency, Native Americans were forced to leave their land, walking over 5,000 miles on what is now called "The Trail of Tears." Many did not survive this journey, and those who did were eventually deprived of what the federal government had promised them as "Indian territory." [3] [2] Obviously, these two historical figures, and others like them, contributed to the suffering of indigenous people. Praising them as heroes is insensitive to Native Americans and promotes a sanitized view of colonialism. For these reasons, we should remove their statues from public spaces.

Counter arguments

Although these historical figures made grievous mistakes, they also contributed to America in positive ways. Columbus championed the exploration that eventually led to America's first European settlements. After becoming an orphan at fourteen, Jackson became the most powerful figure in the United States. During his presidency, he advocated zealously for democracy and the common man. [4] Both of these people made poor decisions, but their stories are complex and cannot be dismissed as simply negative. We should preserve these statues as celebrations of their contributions to America because even imperfect historical figures deserve recognition for their good work.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] These statues depict individuals with strong ties to colonialism and "Indian removal." [P2] These efforts harmed indigenous people. [P3] We should not honor figures who harmed other people.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.history.com/news/columbus-day-controversy
  2. https://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/trail-of-tears
  3. https://www.ushistory.org/us/24f.asp
  4. https://thehermitage.com/learn/andrew-jackson/president/
This page was last edited on Saturday, 11 Jul 2020 at 06:28 UTC

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