Last year I had the pleasure of visiting Stone Mountain. If you have never heard of Stone Mountain (in which case you are really missing out!), it is a mountain in Georgia featuring a huge carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. According to Stone Mountain’s official website, the Confederate Memorial Carving measures 90 by 190 feet, is recessed 42 feet into the mountain, and is 400 feet above the ground, making it the largest high relief sculpture in the world. The idea for the carving originated with Helen Plane of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Construction began in 1923 but ran into funding problems and disagreements between artists, organizers, and the land owners. In 1958, the mountain and surrounding land were purchased by the state of Georgia. Walter Kirkland Hancock was chosen as the new sculptor, and work resumed on the stone carving in 1964. Using thermo-jet torches, workers labored to complete the likenesses of the three Confederate leaders and their horses. A dedication ceremony was held in 1970, and finishing touches were completed in 1972.
It is a truly amazing work of art, and seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.
So, naturally, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are demanding that it be destroyed.
On June 16, the local branch of the NAACP organized a protest against the Memorial Carving. The president of the NAACP branch, Teresa Hardy, said: “We’re going to Stone Mountain where all of the white supremacy, racial bigotry, all of that is hidden in that mountain, so why not march there to let them know we’re not going to take it anymore.”
More recently, this past weekend, a large group of armed militia marched through Stone Mountain Park demanding the removal of the carving.
First of all, depictions of Confederate leaders are not the same thing as white supremacy or racial bigotry. But more importantly, what does Hardy mean by “we’re not going to take it anymore?” What, exactly, is her organization not going to take? The existence of a magnificent, amazing work of art? The fact that people who cherish the Confederacy have a beautiful memorial to visit? The fact that the brave heroes who fought for the Confederacy get to be remembered and honored by those who admire them? This choice of words implies that Stone Mountain’s existence causes pain or suffering somehow. But this is simply false. For anyone who has a soul, Stone Mountain and its Memorial Carving bring tremendous joy and awe, just as all beautiful works of art do. The carving’s existence inherently makes the world a better place. How a person could dislike Stone Mountain is incomprehensible to me. But if this is the case for you, then simply don’t go there! Problem solved.
What makes supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement think that they have the right to order the destruction of anything in the world that they do not like? They are not the only people in the world; other people’s wishes and preferences matter, too. Has anyone considered the feelings of people who love Stone Mountain and would be deprived of a unique and wonderful place to enjoy nature and history? Has anyone considered the decades of painstaking work that artists, designers, carvers, and other craftsmen put into this work of art? Has anyone considered the feelings of people who admire the Confederacy and would be deprived of this beautiful and moving memorial? Has anyone considered the thousands of people who died fighting for the South’s independence, and the possibility that they deserve to be remembered and honored?
It’s almost as if this movement is determined to obliterate every beautiful, magnificent, glorious, unique, different, interesting, cool, and good thing from the world. It’s as if they are striving to create as bland, homogeneous, mundane, and conformist a society as possible, a place where all cities and towns are the same and all people are alike. In short, they seem to be determined to make the world as bad a place as they possibly can. I can think of no other reason why someone would want Stone Mountain’s carving to be destroyed. There are no words in the English language that can fully capture how strongly opposed I am to this idea.
Fortunately, Georgia law protects the Memorial Carving, meaning that the law would need to be changed in order for it to be destroyed. Hopefully this never, ever happens, because the world would be immeasurably worse for it.