I see in the news that the city of New Orleans has begun to remove some of the statues commemorating the Confederate states–by night, and under guard. Here’s a background piece on the lengthy efforts of citizens and government officials to get the statues removed. Not much in there on what the city plans to do with the statues, but I have read–and am comforted by the thought–that the statues will be stored and ultimately displayed somewhere.
That is as it should be. Symbols of white supremacy though they may be, the statues also stand as symbols of a shared, painful past. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can erase that past by simply removing those statues and destroying them; nor can we teach future generations lessons from that past if there are not tangible objects to point to from that actual past.
There is one thing that cannot be removed with the statues: the pain and degradation and suffering caused by the centuries-long folly of our ancestors. That will remain as long as there are any of us with a knowledge of our history, as long as there are any of us with a conscience.