Over 100 busts, statues, columns, and other memorials to the Confederacy and Confederate general and politicians have been removed around the country. Some were unlawfully torn down, defaced, or damaged by mobs. Others have been removed officially by state and local governments. A statue of Robert E. Lee was recently removed from the U.S. Capitol building’s National Statuary Hall, where each state is invited to present statues of two notable persons from the state.

The Senate has passed a bill that would change the names of military bases (mostly Army installations) like Ft Bragg, Ft Hood, and Ft Benning, each named after Confederate generals. A poll in June conducted by ABC News and Ipsos found public opinion was firmly (56 percent) on the side of not making name changes. Yet, two-thirds of black Americans favored these bases being renamed.

Discussing the issue ourselves here at SOFREP we find similar divisions about whether the names of the bases ought to be changed and Confederate monuments be removed. One thing we all agreed on is that lawless mobs are not the way to remove monuments. The Civil War was fought over fundamental civil rights and the rule of law. Violent, howling mobs looting, burning, and destroying both private and public property aren’t about any of that.

What follows below are arguments both for and against the name changes to the bases and the removal of these monuments. The arguments are offered to inform our readers and invite their comments. Where do you stand on this issue? We want to know.

We Should Retain the Confederate Monuments and Leave the Base Names Unchanged

There are several popular arguments for keeping these monuments and base names as they are. But while the Left and the Right attempt to club each other into political submission with alternating arguments about history, American values, and our responsibility to future generations, the American people are caught awkwardly in the balance as little more than spectators. Whether at the statehouse or the White House, our politicians seem intent on pinning all that ails us from the last 200 years of American history on some hunks of granite.

Of course, these monuments represent a great deal to many people. But whether they represent the last bastions of bigotry (or outright racism) in our country or, conversely, the last bulwark against a rising tide of Leftist iconoclasm is not really the point. We’ve transferred all of our angst, hope, pain, pride, and dissatisfaction onto these monuments. They’ve become tokens, tangible markers of the status of the battle between good and evil. The irony is that the casualty of this vogue is the very thing that our nation needs in the first place: dialogue.

The Case for History

Supporters of leaving these monuments in place have cited a wide array of arguments. The most benign of their supporters seem to cherish their historic nature. In keeping these monuments in place, we preserve a kind of American through-line from where we’ve come to where we’re headed. In so doing, they argue, we also protect ourselves from repeating our misdeeds. Because keeping a statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson will help people recall slavery and therefore cause them to be more open-minded — or rather, less racist — in their day-to-day lives? Unlikely. 

Still, as a people, we seem to have extremely short memories, or at the very least, don’t readily consult our history when thinking about the now (or God forbid, the future). Could these monuments elicit some sort of light-bulb moment in some dark hour yet to be seen? Perhaps. But the likelihood of some politician or general crying “Eureka!” after gazing upon a statue of a long-dead general is unrealistically small.