Destruction of Historic Monuments Serves No Good Purpose
The destruction of a monument to King George III or a statue of George Washington; which is the greater villain, and who has the right to decide? English descendants living in New York believed the King was justified in his control and taxation of the colonists, American loyalists stood behind their leader and denounced the King.
In the end, the colonists won and the statue of King George that stood in Manhattan, New York was toppled and melted into musket balls back in 1776. The effect that monuments have on those that gaze upon them is varied. To some, they represent bravery, struggle and sacrifice. To others oppression, authority and injustice. This is true in every culture around the world. The question facing our country today is whether these monuments should remain in place as a reference to our unique history or should they be torn down and destroyed because they no longer represent the beliefs of certain members of our society.
There has been a rush to remove monuments in our country in recent years, especially those representing leaders of the confederate movement during the American Civil War. In August of 2017, many state and city organizations acted to remove such statues in response to a relatively small number of violent protests held in city squares and on college campuses. These actions ranged from destruction of monuments to their movement to less conspicuous locations to simply covering them from public view until more permanent solutions could be found. A list of many of these incidences can be found in an article which appeared in the NY Times in August of 2017. What purpose does this serve? Destruction of a monument does not erase history it simply permits ignorance and hatred to taint reality and truth.
The destruction of cultural heritage sites in the Middle East by terrorist groups has been condemned by world leaders. Terrorists have destroyed what were considered works of art in mosques, shrines, temples and churches in the name of their beliefs. The loss of such sites cannot be repaired and important parts of world history are now lost forever. This destruction is the result of hatred and intolerance, just as is the destruction of monuments on American soil.
Before another monument is destroyed, be it in memory of General Lee, Christopher Columbus, Mother Theresa or Ronald McDonald, perhaps we should all step back, take a breath and remember that throughout the history of mankind, one person’s villain has been another’s hero. Many times those who oppose each other on one issue will find themselves in agreement on another. Instead of tearing down references to our national history, perhaps we should be erecting more monuments and telling the story of all who have helped shape our country into what is still the greatest country on earth.
Taylor Filler is a Lead Contributor for The Daily Lead.