(WETM) — The nation has been struggling to come to terms with both social and racial justice. Recently, there is a concerted effort to dismantle—and sometimes destroy—Confederate monuments and statues.
Proponents claim they represent a racist and intolerant past. Yet some they say they are a vital part of the nation’s history and to destroy them is to erase our past.
Our 18 News Democratic Correspondent, Dora Leland, shared her thoughts on the matter.
These Confederate monuments and statues really should never have been there in the first place. Statues and monuments memorialize and celebrate a nation’s culture and is this something that we want to stand by and say symbolizes our culture? It celebrates those who took up arms against their nation in order to protect and preserve a system that enslaved human beings. The New Orleans mayor had just the best quote, and he said ‘These monuments purposely celebrate a fictionalized and sanitized Confederacy, while ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.’ I think saying it’s a symbol of heritage and not hate ignores the entire experience and the African Americans who were universally enslaved during that time. I think it trivializes their pain, their history and their concerns, and I think the effort to remove the monuments is more than symbolism. I think it’s an important start to a conversation about our shared values and our beliefs, and it’s also acknowledging our past and justices and how we deal with the injustices we’re facing right now.Dora Leland, Democratic Correspondent
Our 18 News Republican Correspondent, Tom Santulli, also weighed in on the topic.
It’s a question that you need to give a lot of thought. I think it’s amazing if you look back, 150,000 people died in the Civil War. That is the greatest loss of Americans’ life in history—in wartime. This was Americans killing Americans. It’s unusual for a war to occur and then the loser of the war ends up building monuments to individuals who really, I mean, they succeeded from the Union. They left the United States of America and went on their own. If you go to our own national cemetery, we have Confederate soldiers that are buried there. So there is history right in this community. Elmira got the nickname ‘Hellmira’ because this was a prison camp and a lot of Confederate soldiers died here. I have no problem with the dismantling of all this. It needs to be done in a civil way where people get together and say ‘we want this to change, let’s take them down.’ Let’s not just simply run around and knock these things over and throw them on the ground. We’re a civilized nation, let’s act that way. I understand it and quite frankly, it wouldn’t bother me if they went away.Tom Santulli, Republican Correspondent
Political Talk airs every Thursday on WETM-TV.