Apparently this needs to be spelled out for people.
States and cities across the country are reevaluating their Confederate monuments and considering how to best contextualize them: with plaques, in museums, spray painting smiley faces on them, etc. While statues get the spotlight, “monuments” include more than bronzed idols, but also school names, street names, and any areas in which public celebrations of the Confederacy — a failed attempt to cement the chains of slavery for perpetuity — remain a part of everyday life.
Let us be clear: we are in no danger of the history of the Civil War being erased. There are at least 70,000 Civil War books published (as of 2002!!). There seems to be at least one new biography on Lincoln every year. Let alone the countless biographies of Lee, Grant, Longstreet, McClellan. Glory and Gettysburg are two of the greatest war movies ever made. Their racist cousins Gone With the Wind and The Birth of a Nation are pretty well-known, too.
Every town with a Civil War past celebrates it in some way — whether through street names or public parks or school mascots. And being that this was a “civil war,” that list of towns is quite extensive. In a hilarious “exception that proves the rule” situation, Donald Trump found the only place in Virginia that wasn’t a Civil War battlefield and pretends it was!
Unless the United States is hit by a massive Men in Black neuralyzer (or we start massive book-burning festivals), there is no chance of the history of the Civil War being erased by taking down statues or renaming elementary schools.
Let’s look at one small piece of a huge picture: Hampton Roads, Virginia.
What is the purpose of celebrating “Prince John” Magruder, whose claim to fame is stopping the army of the United States from asserting control over the Chesapeake? What is being celebrated on Lee-Jackson Day, held less than a week away from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Should children, raised in the shadow of Hampton University’s Emancipation Oak have to attend Jefferson Davis Middle School or Lee Elementary?