The Harbinger Online

Confederate Statues Debate

The controversial debate on the removal of Confederate statues and monuments is the topic of this story. On one side, Reser Hall argues that they should stay and Liddy Stallard argues that they should go.

For Keeping the Statues

HALL ReserWith the current climate of minimal dialogue from opposing sides on anything politics, there needs to be a discussion on the removal of Confederate statues. There are solutions to this matter that don’t involve vandalism or killing people. It’s time to talk. This issue should not be based on party lines. There is no connection between either party and the Confederate States of America.

The removal of Confederate statues isn’t just the removal of a portion of America’s heritage but all of America’s history. I’m not saying that because I’m racist or support the Confederacy, but with hopes that the terrible events in the Civil War never happen in our country again.

The majority of Confederate statues should stay because they keep the Civil War fresh in the minds of people, reminding them of the horrific conflict. If all of the statues are brought down, a significant chunk of American history goes with them. As a nation, we need to use the statues as a teaching point to prevent another Civil War. I do not agree, however, that all statues need to stay. I believe we need to take a comprehensive look at the history of the statues before blindly taking down monuments left and right.

What I mean by this is if there is a statue of Robert E. Lee at the University of Texas, even though he never fought a battle in that state, it has no reason to be there. That could be a candidate for being taken down simply because there is no historical backing for that statue.

I advocate for keeping statues and monuments with context behind them, such as the Arlington House. While he was a slave owner, Lee graduated second in his class at West Point and was regarded as one of the greatest military minds of the time. Despite his slaveholding status, Lee’s former residence is not idolized by racists, but looked at with historical perspective. After all, it is quite hard to compare someone from another time period under the scrutiny of today’s time.

If there is a Stonewall Jackson statue memorializing the First Battle of Bull Run, where he earned the nickname ‘Stonewall,’ there is reason for the statue to stay put. Like Lee, Stonewall Jackson is more than just a slave-holder. Not only was Jackson one of the greatest military minds that the South had, he was the teacher of a class which taught slaves how to read and write, a practice considered progressive at the time.

A slow, methodical approach to the Confederate namesakes and statues debate is the way to go. Simply going around vandalizing or removing every statue without looking into the background of it is in itself wrong.

Against Keeping the Statues

STALLARD LiddyThe words “courage and fortitude” carved into the United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial hardly describe the men it stands for. This memorial sitting at 55th and Ward Parkway is dedicated to the women of the South who supported Confederacy and slavery. A memorial that was vandalized with what looked like an old Soviet symbol and removed five days later due to its idealization of a dark time in U.S. history.

I’ve grown up around this memorial. It was located right across the street from my old preschool and I walk right past it every Sunday with my mom. Over the years my mom and I had many conversations which have helped me decide that the words “courage and fortitude” are no way to describe people that supported slavery.

The Civil War shouldn’t be forgotten; it was an effort to abolish slavery and kept America a country of democracy. However, leaving these monuments of historical Confederate leaders who fought for slavery is not a way for this time period to be remembered throughout our country. We should instead remember those who fought for freedom. These plaques and monuments should be moved to museums to educate people about the past, and allow the US to rid the reputation of idolizing these figures and prevent further protests and damage.

A statue of General Stonewall Jackson, one of the most famous Confederate commanders, sits on the south lawn of the West Virginia state capitol. Most students took a field trip in elementary school to our state capitol in Topeka. How could I forget my excitement as a 5th grader, climbing to the top of the dome and eating my sack lunch on the front lawn?

I picture the African American students who live in West Virginia visiting their own capital building, having to reconcile the fact they are eating their peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the shadows of a monument of a man who fought for the enslavement of their ancestors. I believe the prominence of a public monument shows honor and respect to the historical figure being remembered. The thought of Jackson being honored for his fight for slavery sickens me.

In an open letter to the Richmond mayor Levar Stoney, Jackson’s great-great grandsons expressed their approval for the statue’s removal. If ancestors of people who fought in the confederacy are able to recognize the difference between memorializing and remembering, then the rest of America should let go of the desire to leave these monuments standing.

Slavery was abolished 152 years ago, but racial discrimination is still an obstacle the United States is working to overcome. As Jackson’s great-great grandsons stated, it’s time to end the suffering by placing Confederate symbols as public memorials. Let’s move this part of our American history to museums and celebrate the people who worked and are working to uphold our constitution, which famously states, “all men are created equal.”

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Reser Hall

Reser Hall is a senior at SME and is the co-editor of the Harbinger Online. He is also a copy editor and on the editorial board. In addition to Harbinger, Reser is the Vice President of the Young Republicans Club, member of DECA, Student Court Committee Chair on Student Council and is a member of the golf team. When Reser is not in the J-room, he can be found on the golf course or at the Village Chipotle. Read Full »

Liddy Stallard

Liddy Stallard is a junior at Shawnee Mission East and is a co-A&E-print-editor. When not basking in the sun of the open window sill in room 521, Stallard can be found practicing with the varsity Lancer Dancers in the basement or attending STUCO meetings. Liddy is excited to interact with many new people thanks to Harbinger and grow as staff member through every issue. Read Full »

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