AUSTIN, TX -
The President of the UT Austin Republicans offered an official exclusive statement regarding the removal of Confederate statues on campus:
"After the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, students launched a petition to remove the Confederate statues from UT’s campus. I understand why students would want to remove these statues. Although the statues can serve as a constant reminder of how far we’ve come, they can be perceived as celebrating these individuals instead. We should not be celebrating figures who fought for slavery. While I am concerned that the decision took place unilaterally and without much notice, this decision does take place after years of controversy over the statues. There were protests to remove the statues, particularly the Jefferson Davis statue, in 1989. Although this may be the right decision, I would rather have had a university wide discussion about their removal than removing them in the middle of the night.
I am thankful the statues will be relocated to the Briscoe Center where they can be seen in a larger historical context. History should not be forgotten and it is important we keep these statues in a museum. This helps to preserve our history-even the shameful portions- and they will serve as a reminder to not repeat previous mistakes. The removal of the statues will not stop racism but removing them for the sake of healing our nation’s scars is worth it. However, the scope of these removals should remain narrowly focused to those in the Confederacy that rebelled against the Union. I’m concerned about a growing movement among UT students to rename buildings that were named after those who significantly contributed to the university but hold views that do not meet modern societal standards.
It is one thing to oppose statues of individuals who have not contributed to the university, or even our country, in a positive way but a completely different thing to oppose the current names of buildings and fountains (i.e. Littlefield Fountain and Robert Lee Moore Hall) because their namesakes had views that modern society disagrees with. You will be hard pressed to find historical figures who contributed greatly to our nation’s history who did not also hold despicable views. George Washington owned slaves. Woodrow Wilson was openly racist. We cannot go on a witch hunt to remove symbols of historical figures like these because we don’t like ALL of their views.
As the movement to remove Confederate symbols and other offensive symbols grows, we must ask ourselves: at what point do we stop removing offensive symbols? We should remove Confederate symbols but we should not remove everything that could be deemed offensive. It can lead to a form of radicalism that opposes differing viewpoints and shuts down discussion. I believe the university and the public should focus on education, rather than removing symbols, to bring about an end to racism. Putting pressure on the Texas Legislature to require curriculum teach that the Civil War was fought over slavery and not states’ rights will help educate our youth about the evil of the Confederacy and will promote views of equality. Nobody is born racist and educating people about evils in our history will help prevent us from repeating it again."