Conservatives Should Take Protests of Confederate Statues Seriously

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As near as I can tell, the most common reaction from most high-profile, movement conservatives to the toppling of Confederate statues is . . . sarcasm. Hey, how about toppling statues of Margaret Sanger? Burn! Why aren’t we toppling statues of Marx and Engels? Burn! How about the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Burn! And your hero Lincoln was just a big ol’ racist too. Why aren’t we toppling statues of him? Burn!

Is there something in the water that prevents so many conservatives with big media platforms from taking this seriously? There is, obviously, a perfectly good case for tearing down Confederate statues but leaving nearly everything else alone.¹ I should know, since it’s pretty much my position. After all, it’s one thing to have been racist in the past, when explicit racism was all but universal, and quite another to literally fight a war of secession in defense of Black slavery.

There’s nothing non-conservative about this stance—unless you’re afraid of offending a big chunk of your white Southern readers, of course. Or if laying sick burns on liberals is more important than seriously discussing whether or not statues of Confederate soldiers have any place in modern American life. So how about killing the sarcasm and taking a serious position on this?

And since I’m taking conservatives to task for this, I should also point to this piece by Jim Geraghty about the renaming of military bases. He makes a sensible argument about the best way to go about it.

¹“Nearly” because movements to de-statue racist colonizers like Columbus and Junipero Serra are of very long standing.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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