Take them down

it’s time to remove Confederate statues


Kahlil Oatis, Op-Ed writer

On Thursday August, 17, the City Council of Helena, Montana voted to remove a Confederate memorial fountain after receiving a petition from Native American lawmakers expressing their wishes to have the memorial taken down.

A few days later, a small group of protesters, who were against the city’s decision, stood watch and guarded the statue overnight.

When I first heard of this news, I was confused as to what a confederate memorial was doing in the capital of Montana- a state that wasn’t part of the Union nor the Confederacy.

It didn’t even join the United States until two decades after the end of the Civil War.

This is just one of several monuments that has been called for removal in the weeks following the deadly protest in Charlottesville.

There has been a national outcry to remove all Confederate monuments from public display as they symbolize: racism, segregation, slavery, and secession.

The removal of such statutes has sparked controversy as white supremacists believe The Confederacy is a part of history that should be preserved.

President Donald Trump further reaffirmed their argument. At his Phoenix rally he stated, “They are trying to take away our history…to take away our culture.”

Trump giving a voice to a group of people whose views are deemed socially unacceptable, could force this country to take 50 steps backward in racial progress.

Normally, I would dismiss Trump’s outrageous comments, as I do with most of his foolishness, but I found some truth to what he said.

There was a time-less than 50 years ago-where it was not frowned upon to be blatantly racist, and being in the Klu Klux Klan was mainstream and part of American culture.

The act of erasing history itself is much more difficult than simply dismantling a statue.

Removing a statute will not erase hundreds of years of oppression and slavery, and it certainly will not remove the feelings of racism and bigotry held by white supremacists.

The Civil War has been fought. The Confederacy lost. I find it ironic that people use The Confederacy as symbol of patriotism considering it sought independence from the

United States, and the very generals these monuments are dedicated to fought to maintain its independence.

A statue is meant to literally place someone on a pedestal and honor their memory, and the individual usually has a positive image about themselves. Call me crazy, but I don’t think slaveholders, segregationists, or Klansman have portray anything positive we should be preserving for everyone to see.

I can’t even begin to imagine the feeling of discomfort felt by minorities who live in communities that have these statues. How would you feel if you had to look at a 10 foot tall sculpture of someone like Robert E. Lee who fought to oppress your ancestors on a regular basis?

A statue is just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger issue. I’m not expecting racism to vanish just because there’s one less statue of Robert E. Lee.

But it would speak volumes about what this country is willing to stand for, and the direction it’s headed in.