Should We Remove Monuments of Unpopular Historical Figures?

There has been a lot of debate recently around the presence of the confederate flag at various government buildings along with war memorials to Confederate figures. Below are a couple of recent articles on the topic. These raise issues about how we should treat the past through these memorials and whether we should remove or edit them once the figures, or the ideas they represent, become unpopular.

Baltimore City commission recommends removal of two Confederate monuments

New Orleans votes to remove Confederate, Civil War monuments

Richmond mayor vows to confront tributes to Southern Civil War figures

In England, a similar debate is happening over a statue of Cecil Rhodes.

  1. ‘Black lives are cheap at Oxford’: Furor follows decision to keep Cecil Rhodes statue
  2. Over one third of Oxford students want Cecil Rhodes statue removed
  3. Removing visual reminders of unsavoury history is not the best way to confront the past.

Podcast: The Falling of the Lenins

“The same protests that brought down that Lenin statue eventually brought about a new government in Ukraine, which sought to eliminate all physical reminders of communism and Russia.  But it hasn’t been easy, logistically or politically, because removing these things erases history that is still important to some Ukrainians. Furthermore, communist symbols are very pervasive in the built environment — they can be found on buildings, bridges and other infrastructure.”



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