On Monday, Baltimore’s City Council voted unanimously to remove its multitude of Confederate monuments from the public eye, leading to its inevitable overnight removal the following day. Consequently, Donald Trump responded with his presidential twitter fingers, denouncing the removal of the Confederate monuments as the destruction of America’s rich history and culture. While Trump’s response has some semblances of truth, The removal of the Confederate monuments signifies a step in the right direction coming for America coming to terms with its brutal history of slavery.
A fine line exists between preserving the reminders of the history of slavery and glorifying the figures who preserved slavery. Keeping historical artifacts that glorify the individuals who fought to preserve the peculiar institution only further exacerbates the controversy behind the history of slavery and in effect worsening racial tensions in America. Baltimore didn’t erect monuments in Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee’s name to remind its people of the brutal history of slavery;rather, the creator, J. Henry Ferguson, saw the generals as good role models for the Maryland’s youth. Likewise, spearheaded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Baltimore erected the Confederate Women’s Monument to acknowledge the sacrifices of the Confederate women during the Civil War. While the Confederate Women and notorious generals of the Confederacy did display honorable qualities during the Civil War, they used their qualities towards an evil cause, a cause that nearly failed to physically split America apart but still in some respects divides America today both politically and socially.
As previously stated, Donald Trump’s response had some truth to it: removing any historical monument poses the risk of whitewashing history. However, the state can deal with these risks by moving the monuments to more appropriate settings like Confederate cemeteries or private museums and creating new monuments that honor those who fought valiantly against the Confederacy. Part of rectifying America’s history of slavery means condemning those who aided in creating that abominable history in the first place, not celebrating them in tax funded public institutions.