The protests in Charlottesville following the city council’s decision to remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the consequent violence that led to the death of three people show how Confederate symbols are still fueling racism in this country.
Many white nationalist organizations are under the impression that the current administration will fight for their cause. This has also led them to take President Donald Trump’s silence in these issues to mean support for their cause.
Trump’s initial refusal to condemn the white nationalists led many of them to believe he was condoning this rally, which was deemed unlawful by the Charlottesville police. Thus, when he finally did speak out against the actions of the white nationalists, David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, made a statement “reminding” Trump that it was the “white Americans” who elected him president.
The fact that these protests were led by prominent neo-Nazis, white nationalist groups like the KKK and the Traditional Workers Party shows exactly what these monuments represent to them.
Protesters were heard shouting anti-Semitic slogans like “Jews will not replace us.”
Some of these statues and monuments have served as an inspiration for domestic terrorists like Dylan Roof, who killed nine people in an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
The problem is that instead of looking at the Confederacy as a thing of the past, we have placed it in a position to be glorified. White supremacist groups take advantage of this fact and push an agenda of ethnic superiority that is against the ideals of the United States.
Even the Trump administration has been vague on where it stands. The nation’s leaders should condemn these organizations and the vile agenda they advocate.
More importantly, we need to ensure that we do not foster an atmosphere that allows for racist agendas to flourish. Confederate monuments wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that they still inspire thousands to racism. Removing them is about eradicating the ideals they represent.
History needs to be remembered, and we need to have a conversation on how we can do so without fueling racial tensions. Idolizing individuals who rebelled against the Union for a cause like slavery, which dug one of the deepest scars in the history of the United States, and upholding the ideals of racism and intolerance while doing so are not the way to do it.