Since the events in Charlottesville, there has been a large push for the removal of Confederate monuments in the name of ending racism.
The idea behind it is noble, but even the well-intended ideas of people can be mistakes. The biggest reason for the removal of these Confederate monuments is mainly that they represent racism and bigotry. The argument is that if we take them down then racism won’t be publicly displayed. For example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was considered to be a compassionate president. However, people may not realize what Roosevelt did to the Japanese people during the war.
Roosevelt signed an executive order and a public law in 1942, which allowed the United States government to relocate over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children to internment camps. Today it would be considered racial profiling.
If we view something like Confederate statues as racist, why would we not consider Roosevelt’s actions racist as well? The logic is applicable to both governments discriminating against a certain group of people, for one reason or another so it would make sense to apply the logic used for Confederate monuments to the Roosevelt situation.
Confederates were not the only racists. The Northern states, many of which were not slave-owning states, upheld the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required the Northern states to return any escaped slaves back to their owners in the South. Many escaped slaves tried to find freedom in the North, and instead discovered people obeying the law.
Most people before the mid-1800s would be viewed as racist.
If anyone that owned slaves or had a dislike for blacks have a monument today, why on earth would we not take those down as well? It’s because we realize that many times, we can ignore the flaws of an important historical figure and view the good they accomplished.
Men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Marshall were all slave owners, but Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States and was involved in one of the most important land purchases ever for the United States, Benjamin Franklin created the modern Farmer’s Almanac, and John Marshall was one of the first members of the Supreme Court and started the idea of judicial review.
So why aren’t their monuments, statues and landmarks being taken down? It’s simply because we can see past that aspect of their character we don’t like. Ultimately, the “good” people of history and the “bad” people of history here in the United States were very similar in their flaws and their strengths. There wasn’t a large difference between them in terms of their character so we should view all of them in the same manner.