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‘Richmond Is No Longer the Capital of the Confederacy’: Virginia Will Remove Robert E. Lee Statue, Four Other Confederate Monuments

Illustration for article titled ‘Richmond Is No Longer the Capital of the Confederacy’: Virginia Will Remove Robert E. Lee Statue, Four Other Confederate Monuments
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

A common argument made by racist-memorabilia-loving white people who still swear to white Jesus that they aren’t racist is that the tearing down of Confederate monuments is an attempt at erasing history.

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People with the ability to think critically, on the other hand, understand that monuments are erected to honor and immortalize people and events, not simply to record them in history—that’s literally what history books are for. So the “but...but...but muh heritage” crowd might be disappointed to hear that the state of Virginia is officially removing its iconic statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, but for the rest of us, it’s a long-overdue move.

NBC News reports that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the statue of Lee—which has stood along Richmond’s Monument Avenue since 1890—will be removed along with four other Confederate monuments celebrating Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Matthew Fontaine Maury and J.E.B. Stuart who were all prominent leaders of the Confederacy.

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“Today, we’re here to be honest about our past and talk about our future,” Northam said in a news conference. “I’m no historian, but I strongly believe we have to confront where we’ve been in order to get where we’re going.

“When a young child looks up and sees something that big and prominent, she knows it must be important,” he continued. “When it’s the biggest thing around, it sends a clear message: This is what we value the most. That’s not true anymore.”

Listen: It may very well be that Northam is doing all this in an effort to work off the shame that has followed him since last year when a college photo was unearthed showing him in blackface next to someone in full Klan attire, but that doesn’t change the significance of his decision.

From NBC:

The weight of Northam’s decision is significant: Monument Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark District, it’s home to celebrations in honor of Lee’s birthday and to Confederate-themed events, and is a local attraction for tourists and history buffs.

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney joined Northam in lauding the decision and touting it as a sign of racial progress.

“Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy,” he said.

According to NBC, Stoney previously commented that “We have two pandemics in our country right now: COVID-19 and racism. One is six months old, the other is 400 years old. Both are lethal especially for black and brown people.”

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It’s unclear when exactly the removal of these statues will begin, but NBC reports that it will be happening in “the coming weeks.” The statues will be placed in storage and, according to Northam, decisions are still being made regarding what will replace them or whether they’ll be replaced by anything at all.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

bassguitarhero
bassguitarhero

A friend of mine posted about this earlier on Facebook and felt pretty conflicted, so I gave him my opinion:

The Civil War actually kicked off under James Buchanan, the President with the most “expertise” ever before taking the White House (and a great example of why having lots of qualifications doesn’t make you qualified). He didn’t have much of an answer to the Civil War, and he let it fester, until Abraham Lincoln took over, the first Republican President with a Republican Vice President.

As we all know, Lincoln won the war, called off General Sherman before he burned Atlanta to the ground, and then, after the war, replaced his Vice President, fellow Republican Hannibal Hamlin with a “favorite son” from the south, Democrat Andrew Johnson in 1864, as a way to reach out to the south during Reconstruction.

Because a Democrat (and a southern, racist one at that) was Vice President, this was why John Wilkes Booth murdered Abraham Lincoln. Booth’s belief was, correctly, that Johnson would suspend Reconstruction, and hand political power back to the southern whites who had been locked out of power while black and white politicians who were favorable to the United States as a whole were getting elected and working to build a fairer region.

After Reconstruction ended, those white politicians came back, instituted segregation and Jim Crow, running black politicians out of power and spending decades terrorizing them and their families, and to this day still disenfranchising black voters and, in many places, ruling with the minority of the vote due to gerrymandering and political/police violence.

So, in short, FUCK those statues and all the people they represent. Abraham Lincoln saved the confederacy from being completely razed to the ground and brought on a southerner as Vice President to reach out to the south, and all it got him was assassinated, and got the rest of us decades of political violence and hatred throughout the south.

Robert E Lee’s name should be removed from any and everything, his name only in history books to be remembered by AP History students before the tests, and forgotten, like all of the evil that those people inspired.

But that’s just my opinion. 

I trimmed those last three paragraphs for the sake of friendship, but I post them here because they’re still true.