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How do we think about removing controversial statues in the US? Show more Show less

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 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.
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These statues were intended to promote white supremacy and racial terror.

The people who created these statues intended for them to be re-enforcing agents of white supremacy.
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Context

The Argument

Confederate monuments comprise a significant portion of the statues facing backlash. Although many claim that controversial, Confederate memorials were intended to serve as innocent reminders of our history, the circumstances surrounding these statues' establishment say otherwise. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "The dedication of Confederate monuments and the use of Confederate names and other iconography began shortly after the Civil War ended in 1865. But two distinct periods saw significant spikes."[1] These two spikes coincided with the enaction of Jim Crow laws in the early 1900s, and the civil rights movement of the mid-1950s. [1] This correlation speaks to the intentions of the people who built these statues. When people strived to protect white supremacy by law, these monuments became common. They were also built rapidly in a time that featured threats to white supremacy. Given these links, it is difficult to deny that the people who constructed these statues had racist intentions. They wanted to reinforce white supremacy and promote racial subordination. For this reason, we should remove these statues.

Counter arguments

The original intentions behind some statues were terrible. However, we should preserve them as reminders of history. Removing these statues erases reminders of our society's previous racism. Our communities must remember this part of our history- the terror efforts of the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras- in order to prevent this sort of intimidation in the future.

Framing

Premises

[P1] The people who set up controversial statues intended for them to be a means of reinforcing white supremacy, not memorials or simple reminders of history. [P2] For this reason, we should remove these statues.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.splcenter.org/20190201/whose-heritage-public-symbols-confederacy

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This page was last edited on Monday, 6 Jul 2020 at 16:58 UTC