They’re on the news every week, getting toppled from pedestals and crushed by crowds — destroying monuments and statues has become a new pastime for some.
The trend has spread from college campuses and protest rallies to Washington – Congress just passed a bill to remove some statues from display entirely, declaring them to be symbols of oppression and racism.
Last week, the House voted to remove statues of prominent historic figures, those now seen (accurately or not) as racist. Their goal in doing so is to remove these lasting reminders of racism from public places. The vote was 305 to 113, with some republicans crossing the aisle and agreeing to the removal. The decision, however, is not without a strong sense of irony.
The Media Ignores History
The statues of historic figures like John C. Calhoun and Confederate soldiers have been labeled as “Republican” or “conservative” in the news. Of the 15 statues Congress agreed were problematic enough to remove, 13 of the individuals were actually Democrats.
“These painful symbols of bigotry and racism — they have no place in our society, and certainly should not be enshrined in the United States Capitol,” said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California and a co-sponsor of the bill. “It’s past time that we end the glorification of men who committed treason against the United States in a concerted effort to keep African-Americans in chains.”
Who Are These Racist Democrats?
The new law removes all statues of anyone who served in the Confederacy. It also mentions some specific statues by name. Among those slated for removal is a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who gave the majority opinion on the Dred Scott case (that Supreme Court case found that slaves were not allowed to file lawsuits because they were not American citizens). Taney’s bust will be replaced with one of Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Other statues slated for removal include:
- Democrat John C. Calhoun of South Carolina (a pro-slavery advocate and former Vice President)
- Democrat John C Brekenridge, who left the US senate to serve as the Secretary of War for the Confederacy
- Democrat Charles Aycock, an active and open white supremecist and the Governor of North Carolina.
- Democrat Governer of Arkansas James Paul Clarke, who considered it his mission to “preserve the white standards of civilization.”
Who Owns the Statues?
There are hundreds of sculptures, busts, and portraits on display in Washington, DC’s federal buildings. Many have been commissioned by or belong to the states that the person represented is from. The bill to begin removing and replacing statues passed the House with flying colors. It next must go to the Senate.
The odds of approval by the Republican led senate are more slim; experts predict it is unlikely that Senate Republicans will stand with the House on the removal of these predominantly Democrat statues.
Featured Image by Ron Cogswell