I’ve been reading more about the Confederate monument in Madison County, Alabama and the events that led to it being removed and the Attorney General suing the county. What I’ve read solidifies my opinion that the county was wrong to remove the statue and deserves to be sued.
A few random thoughts:
On August 5, 2020 the monument was vandalized with red paint. This alone is enough reason not to remove the statue. To vandalize any monument is unacceptable, and the absolute last thing that should be done in such a case is to reward the culprit by giving him/her what he/she wants. Leaving the statue in place and protecting it punishes the vandal; that is reason enough to make this the right course of action.
Immediately after the vandalism, a bully named Rebecca Boggs was quoted by local news station WHNT as saying, “I’m a very strong supporter of removing a treasonous statue that doesn’t need to be there in the first place.” This statement is completely idiotic. How can a statue be “treasonous”? Confederate soldiers bravely fought to form an independent country. Anyone who calls them “traitors” or describes them as “treasonous” is an authoritarian and a bully who believes in mindless conformity and has no tolerance for diversity.
City Council candidate John Meredith said of the vandalism, “Regardless of where you stand, you know that the current situation can’t continue. We got to sit down, both sides, and come up with a solution.” He is correct that the situation of all-out war against all things related to the Confederacy, as well as of relentless attacks on statues and monuments of all types, cannot continue. But why do people of both sides need to come up with a solution together? This is a situation in which one side – those who love the Confederacy and its monuments – has done nothing wrong. The other side – those who hate the Confederacy and hate all things and people that do not conform to today’s standards of political correctness – is attacking, insulting, brutalizing, and stomping on the first side for no justifiable reason. The solution to this situation is for the latter group to simply stop attacking, insulting, brutalizing, and stomping on the former. To solve the problem of Confederate statues being vandalized, people must stop vandalizing Confederate statues. It really is that simple.
Particularly disturbing is the fact that during a protest on July 30, someone held a sign that read, “Human Decency $25,000. We have a choice. Pay the fine! Move that racist statue.” This is a reference to the Memorial Preservation Act, the Alabama law that bans cities, towns, and counties from removing historical monuments and sets the penalty for doing so at $25,000. First, of all, the sign states that the statue is racist, which it is not. Additionally, the sign seems to imply that human decency requires removing the Confederate monument. But nothing could be further from the truth. Human decency actually requires protecting and preserving the monument. Removing a monument to the losing side of a war is bullying, it is intolerance, it is bigotry, and it is stomping on the underdog. It is the exact opposite of human decency.
There is also a significant fairness issue presented by the idea of paying a $25,000 fine to have a Confederate statue removed. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for an immoral act of bullying, intolerance, bigotry, and stomping on the underdog? They shouldn’t. The fact that cities, towns, and counties can choose to simply pay the $25,000 to remove statues demonstrates that the penalty is not severe enough. Removing statues is never acceptable, and the penalty should be harsh enough to deter these immoral acts from ever happening. If a statue is removed, which should never be the case, then those who support the removal should pay 100% of the fine. Accurately determining which people support the removal and which do not would of course be tricky, because people will obviously have an incentive to lie to avoid sharing in the burden of the fine. But there should be at least some attempt made to ensure that only those people who advocate for and support the removal of statues are penalized, as opposed to innocent people who might be opposed to the removal.