On Confederate Monuments and American Literature

On moral equivalency . . .

I teach African American Literature, from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. Like many people, the past few days I have found myself explaining things that I thought didn’t require explanation. Among these things is that Confederate statues are not war memorials as generally understood, but monuments intended to memorialize and romanticize the Confederacy, a nation explicitly founded to defend the right of whites to enslave black children, women, and men. We take it for granted that statuary of Nazi military leaders from the war years are better suited to museums than public squares; but statues of leaders of armies mustered to preserve slavery are somehow treated differently. Research demonstrates these Confederate monuments were erected—many during the Civil Rights era—to validate narratives of white supremacy, to commemorate not individuals but a way of life dependent upon inflicting exceptional physical and psychic violence upon black 

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2 thoughts on “On Confederate Monuments and American Literature

  1. I agree that in the interest of history statues of those men (almost always men) who were champions of slavery, Nazism, etc. are better in a museum than in a public square. We should neither forget nor forgive our past.


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