Confederate statues controversy sharpens the divisions in America


Robert E Lee’s statue in Charlottesville, VA

Michael Melkonian, Staff Writer

“Traitors don’t deserve statues!” That is the rallying cry of the protesters around the nation that are for the removal of old Confederate statues. This has now become a hot button issue, due to the tragic events in Charlottesville when a white supremacist march for Confederate statues turned violent and ended with the death of a counter-protester.

This event has led to wide divisions in an already divided nation, with Democratic leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling for removal of all statues and also hinting that any national hero that had slaves should not have a statue. On the Republican side, there has been a mixed bag of opinions, with GOP Senators such as Tim Scott also asking for the removal of confederate statues, but President Trump asking for the Confederate monuments to stay in order to “preserve our history.”

The American people are very divided on this issue, especially on racial lines, with 63 percent of African Americans wanting statue removal and 88 percent of whites wanting the statues to stay as a historical symbol. However, in total, most Americans do not support the removal of the Confederate statues with the NPR/Marist poll saying that 62 percent of Americans want the statues to stay purely on the historical basis. The notion by some people that these Confederate statues should be taken down mainly because they represent treason and slavery is acceptable and personally, I would be completely fine if a community legally took them down by putting the issue on the ballot and have people vote for it.

Violence in Charlottesville over Confederate statues

Where I personally draw the line is when some say that American heroes such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington should have their statues and monuments removed just because they owned slaves. Slavery is a blight on America’s record and must always be looked at in disdain, but are we really going to completely tarnish the legacy of our founders just because their life in the 18th century didn’t apply to 21st century standards? President Trump appropriately addresses this issue last week at Trump Tower when saying, “When does this stop?” Will it be Washington this week and Jefferson the next?”

This is a very painful topic for many people, which is understandable, but rioting and taking down the statues by force will not solve the problem. What will solve this divisive problem is to use the greatest asset Americans have ever had, the vote.

Americans must make their voice heard peacefully and deliver their reasons why the Confederate statues should or should not stay and live with the results that come out of it. This is the process that made America great and is the only process that can heal a divided nation.