Columns » Max Brantley

Save the statues!

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The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.

My initial reactions was one of sympathy. But after recent events, I've reconsidered.

Don't touch those statues! Their symbolism is as important as defenders claim. My thinking:

The Civil War was fought to preserve slavery.

The Confederates were losers.

Most Confederate statuary was erected about a half-century after the war as a public relations drive to create heroes out of losers and to inspire the campaign to take rights from black people, including the vote.

A second wave of Confederate statue erection came in the 1960s, in response to the civil rights movement.

The Confederate flag has become a worldwide symbol for neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gun nuts and other losers.

The Republican Party of Arkansas, from Governor Hutchinson on down, says we should preserve the Confederate memorials because they are an important part of our heritage.

Heritage? They are rich symbols of Arkansas today. Vote suppression, limitation of human rights and segregation by class and race are regularly endorsed by official action in local and state government.

So. Take down the statues? Hell, no. They tell the world about the values of modern-day Arkansas. My only complaint is that they aren't adorned by a sufficient number of Confederate battle flags.

I don't think the Arkansas monuments are in great danger of assault, by the way. But just in case, I encourage modern-day Dixie Defenders to establish round-the-clock pickets to be sure not a square inch of the mass-produced flimsy statuary is harmed. Extremism in defense of the Lost Cause is no vice.

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