When history crosses a line


Photo Credit: Bart Everson (Wikimedia Commons)

After the statue of Jefferson Davis was removed from its pedestal on 11 May 2017, the pedestal itself and its base was also removed. As of 12 May 2017, only this foundation remained.

by Chloe Siohan, Staff Writer

The final Confederate-era monument in New Orleans will come down today.

In late April, New Orleans began the removal of Confederate monuments during the dead of the night in effort to advocate the city’s diversity. Although most people were okay with this, this event sparked anger from others, with their main argument being that Confederate monuments are a part of Southern history and not a token of hate.

The question is simple: when does history cross a line? The answer is when it is an emblem of hate and prejudice that is celebrated by masses.

The Confederacy, a group of states in the South that sprouted during the Civil War, fought to keep slavery instated. Now, over 150 years later, its flag is appropriated as a symbol by Neo-Confederate hate groups.

Most argue that the removal of the monuments is good because they had promoted hatred, but contrariwise some argue that the removal of the monuments attempts to erase Southern history and heritage. The latter seem to forget their roots. There should be no speculation whether Confederate flags and monuments are racist or not — they most definitely are.

Confederate symbols should be treated as taboo as Nazi swastikas. Both emblems have to do with toxic ideologies that promote racism and discrimination. Germany banned Nazi flags from being displayed, so why should it still be acceptable continue raising Confederate flags and keep up Confederate monuments in America?

The most probable answer as to why Americans (specifically Southerners) are so infatuated with the Confederacy is because it reminds them of Southern glory. For most others, it is a reminder of slavery and the consequences thereof.

Additionally, since human trafficking in the United States and other countries still exists today, it shouldn’t be acceptable to put up a monument or flag celebrating a time when slavery was an accepted part of society.

The fact is that racism is still alive in America, as much as we try to completely abolish it. This leads white supremacists and other hate groups to ask themselves, how can we fuel it? The answer is simple: if the Confederate flag continues being a celebrated and praised part of Southern culture.

Although many people who visit Confederate monuments gawk with pride, ignorant to what the Confederacy truly stood for, we must stride to educate them and others about the dangers of Confederate symbols by continuing to remove monuments that celebrate and honor people who wanted to keep slavery legal. America is too progressive for toxic ideologies like this.

People also need to remember that the City of New Orleans is not just taking down the monuments and destroying them but in fact will be placing them in museums. Placing Confederate relics in museums is acceptable because it is a controlled, neutral environment to teach others about history.

Even if you argue that the Confederate flag and monuments are essential parts of Southern history that should not be removed, unfortunately the fact remains that the flag is a symbol for institutionalized racism, a bigotry we are still trying to eliminate today. Since Confederate flags still ultimately stand for racist ideologies, the best solution would still be to remove the monuments, flags, and any other form of Confederate celebration.

That’s why actions like removing Confederate monuments is essential to crackdown on racism, and should be continued in states and cities where Confederate monuments still stand and Confederate flags still hang.

Kudos to Mayor Landrieu for carrying through with these highly debated and controversial actions to create a withstanding positive effect on New Orleans, a city that celebrates its diversity and unique culture from all over of the world.