As part of the nationwide trend to get rid of everything that has anything to do with the Confederate States of America, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding that 11 statues in the Capitol building be removed.
In a letter to the Architect of the Capitol and the Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, Pelosi wrote:
The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation. Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to those ideals. These statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed. While I believe it is imperative that we never forget out history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country.
The statues that Pelosi is criticizing are part of Statuary Hall, a chamber in the Capitol that displays 100 statues of historical figures, two from each state. The list is as follows: Jefferson Davis (Mississippi), James Zachariah George (Mississippi), Wade Hampton (S. Carolina), John E. Kenna (W. Virginia), Robert E. Lee (Virginia), Uriah Milton Rose (Arkansas), Edmund Kirby Smith (Florida), Alexander Stephens (Georgia), Zebulon Vance (N. Carolina) Joseph Wheeler (Alabama), and Edward White (Louisiana). More details about these individuals can be found here. In her letter, Pelosi also made a point of mentioning that Davis and Stephens were charged with treason against the United States.
By demanding the removal of these statues, Pelosi is the true bigot in this situation.
First of all, contrary to Pelosi’s claims, Confederate statues do embody the highest American ideals. The Confederacy fought for the right to secede from the Unites States and establish itself as an independent nation. Resistance to government authority is the ideal that America was founded upon; arguably the Confederacy and not the Union is the true heir to the philosophy of the American Revolution. Even if you believe that the existence of slavery in the Confederacy outweighs this, and therefore do not admire the Confederacy, that does not give you the right to demand that Confederate statues be removed. The rights of those who admire the Confederacy need to be respected, because in addition to resistance to government authority, diversity is also one of the highest American ideals. And a key part of diversity is ideological diversity.
The whole point of Statuary Hall is to showcase a diverse collection of statues representing all 50 states. I have not seen Statuary Hall in person, but when looking at photos of it, I am struck by the variations among the statues. Not only are they physically different, made of a variety of different materials, but they represent a wide range of historical figures from different time periods, backgrounds, and walks of life. They represent historical figures with a wide range of viewpoints, beliefs, and ideologies. But Pelosi is essentially saying that only historical figures with mainstream, moderate, politically correct views deserve to be honored. In other words, only those historical figures who conform to what happen to be the prevailing beliefs in 2020 deserve to be celebrated.
Contrary to Pelosi’s claim, Confederate statues do represent heritage. The fact that Pelosi does not share or value this heritage does not change this.
To call the inclusion of 11 statues of Confederate-leaning historical figures among a collection of 100 a “grotesque affront” to American ideals is, ironically, the ultimate in intolerance and bigotry. And to pointedly mention that two of the statues’ subjects were charged with treason is the ultimate in authoritarianism. It is Pelosi who is being cruel, barbaric, and hateful by declaring that there is “no room for celebrating” those who fought bravely on the losing side of a war. Demanding the removal of Confederate statues is the action of a bully with no tolerance for any views or values that differ from hers. A homogeneous collection of statues representing mainstream ideologies is the exact opposite of what America as a nation should aspire towards. But that is exactly what Pelosi is advocating. This type of mindless conformism is truly a grotesque affront to American ideals.