Friday, August 18, 2017

Preservationists Seek to Remove or Even Destroy Confederate Monuments

So-called "preservationists" have advocated for the removal or even destruction of Confederate war memorials as products of an inherently racist culture.  In contrast, CPO believes we should not erase history, but learn from it.

In a blog post on the subject, Obama Cultural Property Advisory Committee Appointee Prof. Rosemary Joyce justifies her views based on the assumption that

When you remove these statues to men who fought for slavery, you’re not destroying history – you’re making it.

Surprisingly, this 180 degree departure from archeology's mantra of preservation of objects in context appears to be based on little more than reductionist reasoning, i.e., the statues must be symbols of  "white supremacy" because they were produced in a racist South.  Indeed, efforts to draw attention to the fact that their iconography is virtually identical to monuments erected in the North at around the same time when the politically powerful Civil War generation was passing from the scene elicited little more than condenscending responses. It seems furthering "white supremacy" not commemoration of sacrifices on the battlefield must be the prime motivator in the South, but not the North (despite similar racist sentiments there at the time).

In any event, justifying the removal or even destruction of historical monuments by designating them as "racist" should be even more troubling given recent events in Iraq and Syria.   Indeed, there are distinct parallels between ISIS destroying "idolatrous" statues and monuments and efforts here to topple "racist" ones, not the least the motivation to deprive certain groups of artifacts deemed important to their culture (there Shia, Assyrian Christians and Yazhdis and here poor White people (who must be racist!)).  At least here, we have processes in place to allow localities and States to make the decision what to do with our Confederate monuments.  What must be avoided at all costs is another Durham, N.C., where a mob was allowed to take matters into its own hands.   


John H said...

Blimey! That Joyce is going a bit far ain't she?

If, "So-called "preservationists" have advocated for the removal or even destruction of Confederate war memorials as products of an inherently racist culture," then here in the UK, and elsewhere possibly, we'd better start dismantling all our Roman sites and remains as the 'racist' Italians held us Britons in slavery. Do think it possible that we Brits have a case for compensation against the present day Italians?

Indeed, what about the Poles? Do you think they have a case against the Russians? Or the Czechs? Hungarians? Or any other country repressed by Soviet Socialism? What about those individuals who supported this repression? War criminals or what? Should defectors to the Soviets in the Cold War be regarded as 'slavers'?

What a tangled web some 'academics' weave. Can our common history really be left in their hands? No! Who guards the guards?

John Howland
UK Collector & Detectorist

Unknown said...

Such crazy ideas seem not to go too far away from what some people already reclaimed. I read about the Egyptian recquest for restitution of the goods, which the Egyptian slaves took with them leaving Egypt under the leadership of Moses.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Interesting analysis of dedication speeches for monuments dating from 1999 before issue became so politicized

Cultural Property Observer said...

Non-racist sentiments uttered by Nancy Peolosi's father when the Baltimore Lee Statue (now removed) was put in place: