Confederate Monument Debate Part of Larger Conversation About Civil War Legacy
Steven White is an assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University. He says the debate about Confederate monuments is really part a larger debate about the legacy of the Civil War and the meaning of Confederate military service
“The debate about Confederate monuments is really part a larger debate about the legacy of the Civil War and the meaning of Confederate military service. For a long time, the Civil War was taught in schools as a tragic battle between brothers, where both sides had valid reasons to fight. Over the past several decades, however, historians have increasingly emphasized the central role of slavery in the Confederate cause, which makes the public display of Confederate symbolism a lot harder to justify. Removing Confederate monuments from public spaces is part of this historical reckoning, but white resistance can present substantial hurdles to this process.
“This debate also has implications for state and local politics more broadly. Conservatives have generally advocated for state and local control, but tensions between cities and states highlights a wrinkle in that: When cities and states disagree, conservatives tend to side with states, while liberals tend to side with cities. In some cases, states have even prevented cities from making changes to public displays without state approval, which has generally not been granted.”
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