Presently, there has been a surge in debates on the destruction of historical monuments. Since the murder of George Floyd, protesters have destroyed most of the statues in the United States. Proponents of such acts claim that monuments associated with slavery and other actions of discrimination in America’s past should be destroyed to allow for the end of segregation and discrimination. In one instance, a monument commemorating the soldiers that fought during World War II was destroyed when protesters spray painted it with words reading, “Do Black Lives Matter?” (Stone n.p). Similarly, in 2015, a group of students and activists removed a monument commemorating Cecil Rhodes with claims that Rhodes was a symbol of past oppression (Stone n.p). However, such acts disregarded the efforts of the soldiers who fought for America at the time. Destroying historic monuments leads to the loss of a memorable touch. People learn of their origins and past through the pillars. Besides, the destruction of these sites does not signify an end in segregation and other acts of impunity. For America and other states to see the desired change, they must understand and appreciate the mistakes made in the past and avoid such mishaps when making future decisions. Therefore, this analysis argues against the destruction of historical monuments because it disregards the history while the past could guide present choices.
Destroying historic monuments does not change the past. Most of these destructions are done on the basis that it would foster healing and make people forget the traumatizing past. However, one cannot change the past, whether bad or good and remains a significant part of history. According to Schädler-Saub, monuments and statues are erected for historical figures in history (3). The people advocating for their destruction should understand that the historical persons were not perfect, and the monuments were not erected for them to be worshipped. Destroying historic sites is similar to the destruction of history. History is a source of knowledge and education. Studying history is essential in fostering the development of a better understanding of the world. The historical monuments and sites serve as a reminder of past successes and failures. Such an understanding is critical for the enhanced appreciation of the world. More so, people learn from the failures and avoid such misdeeds in the future. From this, historical monuments, both good and bad, are essential in enabling citizens and residents to learn and act accordingly.
Further, the destruction of historical monuments seemingly decides the historical figures to commemorate. The damage targets individuals with flaws and favors those with extraordinary feats that made the world a better place to reside. However, even the supposed ‘good’ people had some faults that most people disregard. The individuals with perceived bad qualities and indulged in slavery practices did so since America was a country that supported slavery. Failing to study such people and destroying monuments related to them is a form of deprivation of inspirational sources. In addition to that, Schädler-Saub argued that the destruction of the monuments based on ‘good and bad’ past practices is based on politics instead of merit (3). The vice practiced by historical figures prevailed in the country at the time. For instance, slavery was a frequent and usual practice in America in the 17th century. Racism and discrimination prevailed then, and failing to commemorate such people on these grounds is baseless since they were fulfilling their duties in a country supporting these vices.
Consequently, historical preservation and restoration have a cultural role. Old buildings and monuments teach on what happened before hence promoting respect for those that lived in different times and societies. Architectural monuments cultivate the pride of the past, and heritage makes people unique. Historical structures bring charm and character to the neighborhood that people reside. Although some ancient structures may not be deemed fit to the current values adhered to in society, it is critical to reflect on the relationship between the present and the past. Removing a statue such as that of Rhodes does not signify that he is erased from history.
Notably, proponents of the removal of historical monuments that depict slavery, discrimination, and other vices in society argue that such values would significantly lead to social issues. However, these claims are false since people can opt to study historical sites and monuments positively. Removing the structures does not signify an end to racial injustices. If those vices are enrooted in society, they cannot be eradicated simply by removing the historical statues. Instead of engaging in the politics of removing monuments, it is critical to participate in the politics required to enhance real change (Wilentz n.p). It is worth noting that understanding history entails recognizing the past, which informs the present instead of editing the parts that the society does not like. Primarily, this means that the events of the past are real parts of history. When monuments such as those of Rhodes stand, a community does not intend to praise and legitimize those views, but such actions should be perceived as a process of confronting and challenging history. Debating moral questions requires confronting the past head-on rather than ignoring.
People would regret their actions of destroying historical monuments in the future. The destructions are an act of anger as people demand equality. However, most individuals have not contemplated how their present actions could affect them in the future. History is critical in shaping and determining one’s thoughts. More so, people, through the account, get to understand how the world and their countries came into being. In the future, individuals would not know the origin of black rights, whose history dates back to slavery. Slavery yielded various fruits for America, including aiding and facilitating the construction of the white house. If monuments that trigger commemoration on slavery are currently being destroyed, the white house should fall on the same category. According to Schädler-Saub, enslaved persons were involved in constructing the white house (4). Still, it is unnecessary to cause these destructions for the sake of future generations since rebuilding the structure would be expensive and damaging to the economy. The people need to understand their origin in-depth, appreciate, and learn from it to prevent any adoption of unwanted past values to the present-day societies. Although proponents of the destruction claim that the individuals represent actions and legacies that should not be memorialized, such structures can be used to teach principles that should not resurface in the society presently.
In conclusion, the destruction of statues and monuments has been ongoing in the United States. Some advocates of these destructions claim that monuments symbolize heinous values such as slavery, discrimination, and segregation should be destroyed to avoid any effects they may pose on present social values. However, they fail to understand that history exists for people to learn from it. It should be appreciated and accepted as it is without having to discriminate between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ since they were all part of a country’s history. The conclusion derived from the analysis is that destroying the historical monuments does not eradicate the past. Other than destruction , the structures should serve as a lesson and a reminder of why such values are immoral and should not be tolerated in society.
Schädler-Saub, Ursula. “Please: Don’t spruce up built heritage but preserve it as an authentic historic document!” CeROArt, no. HS, 10 June 2015, doi: 10.4000/ceroart.4744.
Stone, Peter. “Destroying Cultural Heritage Is an Attack on Humanity’s Past and Present – It Must Be Prevented.” The Conversation, 10 January 2020, http://www.theconversation.com/destroying-cultural-heritage-is-an-attack-on-humanitys-past-and-present-it-must-be-prevented-129412.
Wilentz, Sean. “Monuments to a Complicated Past.” The Wall Street Journal, 25 June 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/monuments-to-a-complicated-past-11593092992
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