Throughout the U.S., activists are calling for the removal of controversial statues, which most often depict individuals with slavery era ties or who expressed racist opinions. Although the presence of these statues has long been a subject of debate, 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 history. Although this is a heinous aspect of our past, removing these statues would be an attempt to whitewash America’s history. So, how should we think about 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 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.  These figures were also all from the South.
Although protesters claim that their anger is due to these figures' racist opinions, the movement has targeted people that did not support racist institutions. For example, a statue of the Union general Ulysses S. Grant was recently toppled by a group of protesters. Why remove the statue of a man who fought for slavery's abolition?
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.