The American Historical Association (AHA) has released a statement calling for the removal of Confederate statues, saying that “to remove a monument, or to change the name of a school or street, is not to erase history, but rather to alter or call attention to a previous interpretation of history.”
“A monument is not history itself; a monument commemorates an aspect of history, representing a moment in the past when a public or private decision defined who would be honored in a community’s public spaces.”
— AHA (@AHAhistorians) August 30, 2017
In the wake of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., to protest the removal of a memorial to Gen. Robert E. Lee, a number of cities have already removed or have accelerated their plans to remove statues of Confederate figures from their parks and public spaces.
“Confederate monuments are ‘imperative to informed public debate,’ ” the AHA said, noting their history of racial intimidation.
“To remove such monuments is neither to ‘change’ history nor ‘erase’ it.”
The AHA criticized President Trump’s comments that the removal of Confederate statues would lead to the removal of statues of America’s founding fathers.
…can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
“Decisions to remove memorials to Confederate generals and officials who have no other major historical accomplishment does not necessarily create a slippery slope towards removing the nation’s founders, former presidents, or other historical figures whose flaws have received substantial publicity in recent years,” the association said.
The AHA also noted that “nearly all monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders were erected without anything resembling a democratic process.”
“Regardless of their representation in the actual population in any given constituency, African Americans had no voice and no opportunity to raise questions about the purposes or likely impact of the honor accorded to the builders of the Confederate States of America,” the AHA added.
“The American Historical Association recommends that it’s time to reconsider these decisions.”