Following last weekend’s domestic terror attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, debate about Confederate statues and their place in society has taken center stage. Should the monuments stand or be torn down? Should they be placed in museums or destroyed completely?
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) answered those questions Tuesday when he announced that he is seeking the removal of all Confederate statues located on state property.
Cooper’s comments came less than one day after a group of protesters made national headlines for toppling a Confederate monument in Durham, which is near the capital city of Raleigh.
In a blog post on Medium, the first-term governor wrote: “Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down."
He added: "Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums — not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds. And our history must tell the full story, including the subjugation of humans created in God’s image to provide the back-breaking labor that drove the South’s agrarian economy."
Cooper also said he wants the state legislature to defeat a bill that seeks to provide drivers immunity if they run over protesters blocking public roadways. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the state Senate.
First things first
Cooper can’t simply declare the statues be removed or torn down. That’s because his predecessor, Pat McRory (R), signed a law in 2015 that prevents the removal or relocation of Confederate monuments to preserve their historicity.
But Cooper is seeking to change that and wrote that he will ask the state assembly to repeal the law.
"Cities, counties and the state must have the authority and opportunity to make these decisions," Cooper wrote.
Simply doing what’s right
Confederate monuments glorify the deepest sins of our country and nothing more. They represent a time when an overwhelming number of people believed that people with a dark skin color weren't made in God's image and were mere property.
Not only do the monuments glorify oppression and subjugation, but Confederate symbols placed prominently in the public square serve as constant reminders to people of color that the sentiments behind the Confederacy are still alive and well. If they weren't, what other reason is there to build a monument — whose only purpose is glorification — to honor the Confederacy, and therefore its values?
That’s a question we all have to consider.