01 September 2017

News Lost in the Anti-Monument Frenzy

In North Carolina, there have been more Civil War monuments erected in the last 17 years, than there were in the 50 years from 1940 to 1990. I found that fact stunning. And, of the 36 erected, the majority were Confederate monuments.
“There has been a Civil War memorial boom going on over the last 20 years,” said W. Fitzhugh Brundage, the chairman of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At least 36 have gone up in North Carolina alone since 2000, he said, as many as were put up between 1940 and 1990. Of those, 20 are to Confederates and four are to Union forces. The rest memorialize the war in general, including one dedicated in 2012 to Civil War horses. [Emphasis mine.] Source: New York Times
Though the NYT piece has a number of factual errors in it, it's still an interesting read. I suspect this trend of adding more monuments on private property will grow. And there are some good arguments being made for "privatizing" monuments and memorials, though that too is problematic; especially since the tradition of a nation honoring its military leaders is deeply entrenched and far older than the United States. Also, despite all the noise and hype over Confederate monuments, a Reuters poll reveals the majority of Americans oppose removing them.

Personally, I prefer adding new monuments, not removing old ones. 

(Also, you will notice that the historians who are most in favor of removing these monuments have,  for the most part, remained silent about the slippery slope that has led to serious efforts to remove monuments honoring everyone from Bill Clinton, to FDR to former New York Mayor Frank Rizzo. I predicted this would happen a long time ago. Where does one draw the line? I think that "drawing of the line" is now impossible and we will ultimately lose a great many works of art, as well as prominently displayed historic artifacts. They will, at best, be tucked away in a museum where few Americans will venture to view them or learn about them.)

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