In the wake of nationwide protests against racial discrimination by the police, politicians and activists in a number of American cities have called for the removal of monuments to Confederate leaders from public spaces. The U.S. military even expressed its willingness to rename military bases named after Confederate generals. Some activists took matters into their own hands, toppling statues or defacing them with red-painted slogans and symbols.
Supporters of removal argue that Confederate monuments harm people of color by conveying messages of support for white supremacy. Critics allege that there is a slippery slope from Confederate figures to the Founding Fathers or Abraham Lincoln. They also claim that removing monuments is tantamount to an Orwellian erasure of history, the sort of practice one would expect in totalitarian regimes, not democracies. So, what should we do with the statues?