Art is never neutral. History is never apolitical. We must remember that before we let fears of burned cities and broken monuments divide us.
From the earliest days of the Roman Republic to the ancient civilization of Egypt, statues have been created and memorialized to honor various causes. From the domain of certain kings, to symbolic walls to keep the barbarians out. Functionally, these art pieces are representations of whatever/whoever they mirror. If that representation is an Emperor, then depending on if it was made to be ugly or beautiful it fulfills a specific purpose. Maybe the Emperor funded it, or maybe it was a random citizen showing his or her appreciation (or hatred if it was particularly ugly or shocking.)
This is a cycle of history and we live in historical times. Confederate statues were made primarily between 1890-1950 — lining up exactly with the era of Jim Crow segregation.
Confederate statues are made in the representation of Confederate leaders who had specific political agendas. And those specific political agendas? Vice President Alexander H. Stephens sums it up in his Cornerstone Speech (1861): “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.”
It’s time to stop fooling yourselves that Confederate statues are just celebrations of an apolitical history. They are celebrations of a traitor nation that fought for the right to own slaves.