Statues don’t teach history
Gov. Matt Bevin and other defenders of Confederate monuments espouse a slippery slope theory about the dangers of erasing history. Do not confuse a responsibly interpreted historic site, such as Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, with a static monument. Do not use such sites as shields for statues that romanticize Confederate leaders as heroes.
Responsible historic sites interpret artifacts to illuminate a full history, both celebrating achievement and acknowledging the errors of the past. Visitors to Ashland hear the story of a man who spent his life in public service and sought unity between the divided states, but also hear the ways in which he failed to achieve his goals and fully live up to his own ideals.
A room of the mansion is devoted to information on Clay’s nuanced views about slavery, his struggle with the issue, and acknowledgement that Clay profited by enslaved labor. Visitors also hear the story of Charlotte Dupuy, the enslaved African American woman who sued Henry Clay in court for freedom, and the unfortunate price she paid for losing her suit.
Learn from history. Preserve and visit historic sites, but remove these offensive monuments. They do not instruct. I would not want them to inspire.
Move them to cemetery
Certainly, we must be able to tell the story of our history, but we must be able to do it without a distraction that causes division and pain, and serves to honor what must surely be remembered, but not celebrated.
As a servant to the interfaith community, I understand reconciliation to be the hallmark of our activity. To that end, I submit:
▪ That the hallowed ground at Cheapside, sanctified by the lives of those bought and sold — sisters and brothers of a common Creator who shared our dignity but not our good fortune — be allowed to remain hallowed in memory and in fact by relocating the monuments.
▪ That we, as a community, entreat the Lexington Cemetery board of directors to decide to serve the Lexington community by allowing the statues/monuments to be erected on ground already dedicated to the Confederate dead in Lexington Cemetery. There is no need to dedicate a different space for these Confederate personalities when one already exists.
Lexington Cemetery can assist our city, its citizens and its legacy, and perform outstanding civic duty by accepting these statues once the decision has been made to move them.
In this scenario, there seems to be the capacity for reconciliation and a path forward with hallowed memory intact and worthily served.
Stan “JR” Zerkowski
An insult to WWII vets
My father risked his life in England doing emergency surgeries in the basement of a blacked-out church by candlelight trying to save injured servicemen as German bombs dropped. Medical personnel had to make immediate decisions on who to let die and who to try to save by surgery. My father risked his life fighting against Nazi forces.
President Donald Trump said that neo-Nazi, white supremacists and white nationalists have the moral equivalence of those counter-protesting the Charlottesville, Va., Robert E. Lee display. Friday night, footage after footage showed outraged, hateful men with torches chanting, making Nazi remarks and signs.
Lee was a traitor to the U.S. government. He now stands for white Southern privilege. His statues weren’t erected out of historical relevance after the Civil War in 1865 but mostly in the 1920s when whites, mainly KKK, tried deconstructing the government from Civil War changes. Lee statutes are of historical value and deserve to be erected in historical places like battlefields and cemeteries.
If you had to tear down statues of everyone who owned slaves, almost every old statue would have to be brought down. This isn’t about slaves. It’s about neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists. Anyone not disavowing their actions is agreeing with them and shunning every American who fought in World War II.
Beginning a revolution
In 2001, Taliban terrorists blew up 1,700-year-old carvings of the Buddha in Afghanistan because they found the carvings offensive.
The Bolsheviks toppled and decapitated statues of Alexander III after the abdication of Russian Czar Nicholas II in 1918 because they found the statues offensive.
Iraqis destroyed statues of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad following the invasion of U.S. forces because they found the statues offensive.
The destruction of statues and monuments is commonly a part of the overthrow of dynasties. That’s because new dynasties must remove all reminders of the old before the new dynasties can rewrite history. Rewriting history is part of the new dynasties entrenching themselves in power.
The violence in Charlottesville, Va., was more than a protest that got out of control. It was the opening salvo of a revolution. The removal of statues is eventually followed by the removal of persons who dissent.
We must remember the past
I have always understood that there are some things that we cannot change. History, for example, cannot be changed, and even though we may not agree with what has happened in the past, we can learn from it. Taking down statues or pieces of art does not change history.
In Europe, the Jews were persecuted for centuries, and this was the precursor to the Holocaust of World War II. Has the statuary changed there or the artwork? Not at all, instead memorials at the sites of these devastating events have been erected to remind us all: “Never again.” When we remove history, we remove knowledge and understanding of a past we do not want to repeat.
This country has gone overboard in the name of political correctness. Are we going to destroy every monument or reference of the Confederacy just to keep the peace?
History cannot be rewritten and demolishing reminders of our history will not erase it. Are we going to tear down the Washington Monument? George Washington owned slaves, as did multiple presidents and the majority of them continued to own them while in office. The Civil War was fought over states rights and not slavery. Many courageous men were lost on both sides and deserve recognition.
Wasn’t a monument erected to Vietnam War veterans even though the war was largely unpopular with the citizens of this country?
Our elected officials need to man up and say no to the destruction of our history. After all the United States is a culmination of all of our proud and sometimes not-so-proud history, not just selective events.
Mayor Jim Gray and the council’s decision to remove the Confederate statues is shameful. We cannot change history, but we can learn from it. John Hunt Morgan was a citizen of Lexington. Will the mayor tear his house down, as well?
Statues sanitized history
Gov. Matt Bevin is mistaken to characterize removing Confederate symbols and monuments from government property as the “sanitization of history.” The ultimate revision and sanitization of history was decades after the end of the Civil War when people erected these glorifying statues and symbols. We must never forget the Civil War, but those who fought to enslave other humans should not be honored atop the pedestals of our public spaces.