Not All Historically Significant Events Need Their Symbols Preserved
They are an ineffective way to teach history.
Last updated on December 4, 2020
The symbols of the Confederacy are not in and of themselves significant, because symbols do not necessarily teach the history they represent. Statues in particular are not an effective way of teaching history, because a few lines on a plaque underneath a statue do not give enough context to convey a complex conflict. When the primary purpose of an object is to glorify something or someone, it cannot objectively teach anything. That cuts to the heart of any argument of keeping Confederate symbols "for history's sake." To take another example, everyone can agree that the rise of Hitler and the ensuing World War II were historically significant events. They caused the deaths of millions of people, reshaping both European and transatlantic politics along the way. But that does not mean swastikas and Nazi memorabilia need to be preserved or put in public places in order to remember that history. Germany has no Nazi memorials or monuments. There are numerous monuments to remember the Holocaust as a way of not forgetting the true cost of the violence inflicted by the Nazis, such as memorials to the Jewish people killed, or statues honoring the soldiers that fought to liberate them. Memorials to slaves, for instance, could serve the same purpose.