An Easy Litmus Test For Monuments

The Forward written by Seffi Kogan

Monuments are not mere markers of history; they are instruments of memory. Whom we choose to memorialize says a great deal about who we are as a people. Addressing Amherst College in 1963, President John F. Kennedy said: “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” Choosing to remove offensive monuments is a decision that should not be made lightly. But leaving them standing is also a decision.

Contemporary scholarship has done a great deal to clear up the revisionist history that prevailed from the post-Reconstruction era through the 20th century. In lieu of a full history lesson, here is a simple fact: every one of the Southern states cited the preservation of slavery as the reason for secession. Slavery, not states’ rights, was the foundational idea of the South. The Confederacy and its political and military leaders—including Robert E. Lee—do not deserve to be memorialized.

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