Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is standing up for Confederate monuments. He is suing Madison County, Alabama for removing a statue from its location in front of the county courthouse on October 23 and moving it to a nearby cemetery. The 24-foot tall monument featured a generic Confederate soldier and was inscribed with the words, “In memory of the heroes who fell in defence of the principles which gave birth to the confederate cause.” According to the lawsuit, the statue was erected in 1905, was destroyed in 1966, and a replica monument was installed to take its place in 1968. A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.
Alabama has a law called the Memorial Preservation Act, which was passed in 2017. “No architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument which is located on public property and has been so situated for 40 or more years may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, or otherwise disturbed,” the law states. The law covers any “statue, portrait, or marker intended at the time of dedication to be a permanent memorial to an event, a person, a group, a movement, or military service that is part of the history of the people or geography now comprising the State of Alabama.” The penalty for any person, government, or other entity that removes, relocates, renames, or alters a monument is $25,000, and Attorney General Marshall intends to make the Madison County Commission pay.
Marshall released a YouTube video in which he spoke about the illegal removal of monuments and the general tendency of elected officials to disregard the law when it is politically expedient to do so. Here is an excerpt:
“In recent months, we have witnessed a number of elected officials take it upon themselves to tear down monuments and statues protected under Alabama law… First, any elected official who removes a historic monument or statue in violation of Alabama law has broken the law. He has not simply decided to ‘pay a fee’ so that he can lawfully have the monument or statue removed. He has committed an illegal act. Second, any elected official sworn into office by taking an oath to uphold the law, who then breaks a duly enacted and constitutional law, has violated that oath. Third, despite what some newspapers might have you believe, any elected official who disregards the duties of his office in this manner has done so not out of courage, but has done so out of fear. This should not be celebrated, for disregarding the law subverts our democratic system… I urge my fellow Alabamians to take note of those casting votes and spending their tax dollars to violate a law of this state. It is now a question of when not if these same leaders will cast aside yet another law—being guided only by the political winds of the moment.”
I love this message, particularly the part where Marshall points out that removing Confederate monuments is cowardly, not courageous. He also makes a great point that it is unfair to taxpayers for $25,000 of their money to be spent on illegally removing a beautiful historic monument.
In these discouraging times where bullies have been disturbingly successful in their quest to stomp out everything good in the world in the name of political correctness, it is heartening that someone is standing up for what is right. All states need to have laws like Alabama’s Memorial Preservation Act to protect priceless works of public art against racist, intolerant mobs and the craven politicians who bow down to them. It would be even better if the fine were even higher than $25,000. Removing a Confederate statue is one of the most immoral acts a person or government could do; no penalty is too harsh for such a despicable act. Thank you, Attorney General Marshall, for defending magnificent statues that cannot defend themselves.