by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rich Lowry presumably wrote his latest National Review Online column without knowledge of the unsanctioned effort to topple a Confederate monument in Durham. So he makes no reference to that incident while calling generally for similar monuments to be removed.
Robert E. Lee wasn’t a Nazi, and surely would have had no sympathy for the white-supremacist goons who made his statue a rallying point in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.
That doesn’t change the fact that his statue is now associated with a campaign of racist violence against the picturesque town where Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. The statue of Lee was already slated for removal by the city, but the Battle of Charlottesville should be an inflection point in the broader debate over Confederate statuary.
The monuments should go. Some of them simply should be trashed; others transmitted to museums, battlefields, and cemeteries. The heroism and losses of Confederate soldiers should be commemorated, but not in everyday public spaces where the monuments are flashpoints in poisonous racial contention, with white nationalists often mustering in their defense. …
… For supporters of the Confederate monuments, removing them from parks and avenues will be a blow against their heritage and historical memory. But the statues have often been part of an effort to whitewash the Confederacy. And it’s one thing for a statue to be merely a resting place for pigeons; it’s another for it to be a fighting cause for neo-Nazis.