Are monument protests missing these memorials’ contribution to our collective memory?
Monuments become invisible. People walk among them without any idea who the people are or why there are monuments to them.
By tearing monuments down, protesters are, ironically, bringing those memories back to life and requiring the rest of us to grapple with whether these people should be admired.
Robert Zaretsky writing at The Washington Post:
Historians … worry that the bébé will be tossed out with the bath water. Alfred Brophy, a professor at the University of Alabama, has warned against the perverse consequences of removing the statues of Confederate leaders. This will, he warned, only facilitate “forgetting that there were once people in charge who celebrated the Confederacy and supported the ideas of white supremacy associated with it.” Similarly, the French historian Mona Ozouf recently cautioned that once any purging of monuments begins, it will be hard to end. What would be the fate of statues of those “immortal” heroes of republican France who were also colonialists or anti-Semites? Will Victor Hugo and Voltaire become persona non grata at the Pantheon?