Debates on Confederate, Communist, and Colonial Statues

Topic: Social & Political Theories
Words: 1131 Pages: 3

Karen L Cox’s argument or main points in “Black Protestors Have Been Rallying Against Confederate Statues for Generations”

The main points that Cox emphasizes during the article are the support of black people’s retention of the racist’s historical figures. Americans, especially the parts of populations who have been oppressed through centuries, such as black, indigenous and Mexican people, perceive those historical symbols utterly different than the majority. For them, it is a constant reminder of the white supremacy’s domination when the slave traders and colonizers are being praised, and their monuments are placed all over the country. Overall, the destruction and vandalism of the monument is the expression of the frustration and anger caused by systematic racism and the public’s ignorance of the issues.

Historical and artistic evidence

The attacks on historical objects have been happening before, and the discussion about the appropriateness of one or another historical figure’s statue has been going for a long time. However, before the growth of the Black Lives Matter Movement, there was another incident in 1966 when Sammy Younge, Jr was murdered at the age of 21 by the white male who later was justified (Cox). As a response to this act of injustice and the feeling of anger and helplessness, students from the university where Younge was studying began organizing protests and marches to express their resentment. The statues that happened to be on their way resonated with the feeling of injustice, so the protestors started destroying them (Cox). In those monuments, the black population saw the representation of systematic racism, white privilege, and the ongoing violence towards black people.

Pick one quote of 1 or 2 sentences from article that is most interesting and explain what it means

One of the fascinating citations seems to be the one that refers to the events of 1966 when the upset members of the local black community reacted to the murder of Younge in 1966 by projecting their anger on the statues. “While it was too dangerous for the students to take out their frustrations on white locals, attacking the monument served as a symbolic attack on racial inequality, as well as on the man who had killed their friend” (Cox). This might be the most precise representation of the social and racial situation of that time, which can still be relevant nowadays at some points. Black people are powerless against the white population, and the least they can do is perform a symbolic act of disagreement with the system.

Pick one of the illustrations in the article that impacted the most and explain what it shows or demonstrates

From all the illustrations, the one that created the heaviest impression was the photo of the defaced monument downtown in Tuskegee, Alabama. Most of the time, when the cultural and historical monuments are being vandalized, the administration repairs them. However, in this case, they kept the statue covered with paint and words as a reminder of the reaction to the brutal murder of Sammy Younge.

Justin Jampol’s point of view in “Tearing Down Statues Won’t Undo History”

Jampol stands for the idea that statues initially were meant to be the symbols of their times. As the eras change and the perception of monuments as well, it remains a historical heritage. He believes the destroying and eliminating statues will not have much impact on the social situation in the context of racism and white supremacy (Jampol). Those historical objects should be placed in the museums, statue cemeteries or just kept at their places but with the reevaluated meaning and concept. The monuments, after some time, will become history, and for future generations, it is important to leave something to study and remember.

Historical and artistic evidence

To support his point Jampol take as an example the sites of the Holocaust. At first, they were destroyed as a painful reminder of the horrible events that had happened during the second world war, but after some time, what was left was preserved as evidence of past crimes (Jampol). Some historical moments and periods are hard to describe in words, so in the case of the Holocaust, the preserved barracks at the concentration camps visually illustrate the horrors of those days.

Select a quote of 1 or 2 more sentences that the most thought-provoking, and explain why it is interesting

There is one citation that stimulates me to think about the topic more broadly. According to the Jampol: “The irony is that if all statues fall or are destroyed, the most public reminders of systemic brutality could disappear. Erasing sculptures does not start a conversation, but it usually ends one.” This particular citation leads to the thought that the destruction of the monuments will not improve the situation, but in the future will leave no evidence or signs of the historical injustice that can serve as a lesson for future generations.

Select one of the illustrations/works of art in the article and explain what it shows or demonstrates

One fascinating picture is Symbols of the Soviet-era Szoborpark (Memento Park), a statue cemetery outside Budapest. This photograph depicts the Workers Movement Memorial, former Soviet premier Vladimir Lenin, Bela Kun, Jeno Landler, and Tibor Szamuely. (Jampol). Isolated from public places, they show the period of history without any context or interpretation, only the objects of the past times.

Karen L Cox and Justin Jampol about Mexico City replacing a statue of Columbus with a statue dedicated to indigenous women

Recent change in attitude towards monuments to Columbus, such as the Mexico City being replaced with a statue for indigenous women.

Cox and Jampol would more likely disagree on replacing a statue of Columbus with a statue of indigenous women. Cox might think that it is the right step towards recognizing the achievements of people of color and bringing diversity to the historical heritage. Jampol could be skeptical about this act, for he believes that monuments should be preserved as a reminder of past mistakes and as learning material for future generations. However, if the Columbus statue were sent to a museum or the cemetery of statues, after all, it seems that he would not be too critical about the theme.

In my opinion, the change towards Columbus monuments is the expected reaction of the risen awareness of the population on the racial topic. Although the monuments of Columbus have been debated for many years, it is impossible to deny his contribution to the genocide of native Americans (Solomon). I believe that it is crucial to popularize and show more respect and recognition to the achievements not only of white men with questionable moral values. In the first place, indigenous historical figures who have lived on this land from the beginning should be put and have their significant accomplishments that should be praised.

Works Cited

Cox, L., Karen. “Black Protestors Have Been Rallying Against Confederate Statues for Generations.: Smithsonian Magazine, 2021. Web.

Jampol, Justin. “Tearing Down Statues Won’t Undo History.” Foreign Policy, 2020. Web.

Solomon, Tessa. “Mexico City Will Replace a Controversial Christopher Columbus Statue with a Monument to Indigenous Women.” ART news, 7 Sept., 2021. Web.

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