LEXINGTON, KY - The recent events in Chatlottesville, Virginia presented a side of American culture and history that many choose to ignore. The idea of White Nationalists- be they Neo-Nazis or members of the KKK- marching openly in American cities is not an image that modern Americans ever expect to face.
In response to these actions, people are asking to remove statues celebrating the Confederacy. Supporters of this movement claim Confederate statues are a symbol of pride and stand to protect the groups that use them as idols. The same claim can be made about flying the Confederate flag, or in more recent events, wearing and displaying Nazi paraphernalia. These items, in a museum, are history. They are representative of ideas and events that should not be forgotten so they may be studied and educate future generations.
Following the events in Virginia, Lexington, KY. Mayor, Jim Gray, announced he was moving up the vote on his proposal to remove Confederate statues from the historic Lexington courthouse. When asked for comment, Mayor Jim Gray explains that this is not a new project “We’ve actually been working on this for two years.
On August 15th the Council voted to put on the docket a resolution supporting the move of the statues. We did not ask for approval for a location today. The Council gave us 30 days to continue to explore an alternative site.” Lexington’s city council voted unanimously to relocate the town’s two Confederate statues from their downtown location.
Two years ago, in 2015, there was a similar push to ban Confederate flags. This push followed the shooting at a South Carolina church by a similar White Nationalist group. There was also discussion of removing the Statue of Jefferson Davis, former Confederate president, from the Kentucky Capitol. They are seen as symbols of hate and oppression, not pride and heritage as those wielding them claimed. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin stated that this relocation is “sanitization of history.” Bevin, when running for election in 2015, openly supported the removal of the statue of Jefferson Davis from the Kentucky capitol.
United States history is in no danger of being forgotten. 152 years ago, the Civil War came to an end and is the subject of countless books, college courses, and documentaries. Both sides of the conflict are clearly represented in history. So far, six cities- Charlottesville, VA., Lexington, KY., Tampa and Gainsville, FL., Durham, NC.- have voted on the removal and relocation of Confederate statues. Relocating these statues will not fix the problem. However, these statues are offensive to many and they are inspiring violent and intolerant behavior.
The relocation of the statues makes a clear statement: this community will not stand for these acts of violence and intolerance against American citizens. In 1945, following the horrific events of World War II, Karl Popper introduced the Paradox of Tolerance. He stated that “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” If we, as a society, don’t stop the intolerant, we will destroy the tolerant society. Almost 75 years later, the United States is faced with a similar dilemma.
This piece was published originally by College Reaction on Collegereaction.com