I am at a real loss to understand the current grip of cancel culture that has been no less remarkable and confusing than in the incessant demands by so many to tear down and/or remove numerous monuments that honor controversial personalities from the Civil War period, as well as leaders in government and other areas of society whose views were at serious odds with our contemporary values and sensitivities.
I fully appreciate and agree with the need to reread the leadership records and life histories of these once celebrated leaders. But too much is being done to drive home a message that could be easily and more effectively served by other simpler means. Little, if anything, other than a momentary settling of a score, is achieved by tearing down a monument of a controversial, even repugnant, military or government leader. If anything, removing or destroying such an installation might instead serve to obscure and even deny the intended message and pressing historical lesson.
Let the monuments stand and remain in the context of the events they represent, albeit with a prominent plaque, a seriously stated caveat to what was initially posted, appended to it that puts the person and events it serves to represent in a corrected historical light.
The massive removal and, in some cases, the destruction of these painful portrayals of would-be heroes from yesteryear is a disservice to history. It is unnecessary and a case of overkill. It's also an unfortunate whitewash of the past, precisely at a time and place where we seek to tell the whole story.
Let yesterday's celebration of a given figure's military prowess and our former regard for perceived exemplary political leadership be qualified with a parallel physical portrayal of the once-denied historical facts. Let the ugliness stand in place but not without an obvious counter to the earlier narrative. It is far more effective to present the whole story than to try to make it go away. This is a short-term shallow solution to a much deeper and protracted social and moral conundrum. So much of what we hope to repair will be denied and disappear, precluding an opportunity to address and consider the evils and errors of the past.
It might seem expedient to tear down symbols of tyranny. But the hard work of healing and rebuilding; the efforts in earnest to learn from monumental mistakes is far better served by a qualified historical statement on a prominent marker than by wholesale denial of these events and their controversial cast of characters. Put their calumny up in lights. Qualify the facts but let the ugliness stand and stay, alongside its more than graphic antidote.