Trump tweeted last week “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.”
I couldn’t agree more, you can learn from history, but first you have to record it. I find it the height of hypocrisy that the people who are complaining about erasing history are really only concerned with the idea of erasing certain people’s history (whites, men, soldiers who fought for the right to own slaves). Associating American history and culture with a white supremacist version of history erases women and people of color and their essential role in American life. Women and people of color have had their histories erased for centuries, and I don’t hear any complaints from the white supremacists? That’s because we have never been deemed historically worthy. We’ve had to struggle for equality since the founding of the country. To white supremacists, it’s “their country”; the rest of us aren’t real (white, male) Americans.
I don’t think all offensive monuments must be removed- they are a reminder of a part of history that we should never forget. But they should not exist in isolated, one-sided historical glory, with no context. Just as the addition of “Fearless Girl” changed the message and broadened the story of the “Charging Bull” on Wall Street, we should be allowed to erect statues and memorials to commemorate the parts of our history that have been erased, and that complete and convey the full story. We should be remembering all sides of our history. Children learn about the civil war and civil rights in school; they learn NOTHING about women’s history or the fight for women’s rights. Women’s history has been completely erased, and I don’t hear any of these “history” defenders complaining about that?
What if we put up statues of Alice Paul and Jane Addams, Sojourner Truth, Anne Hutchinson, Margaret Brent and Abigail Adams, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton….I could go on and on and on. Does anyone even know who these women are? In order to learn from history, we need to teach it. All of it, not just one narrow perspective. How about a statue honoring all the women unjustly murdered because they were accused of practicing witchcraft? The women who spent their lives fighting for women’s suffrage? For winning the right to be educated? To earn and own their own money? Or the right to own their own bodies? To be included in the U.S. Constitution- a right we are STILL fighting for today!
At least 50% of American history has been erased- where is the outrage? When I went to college, I took a class called “Women in American History”. I studied “American History” in high school and learned NOTHING about women in history. That class should really have been called “White Men in American History”. I had to take an entirely separate class to learn about what the other half of America was doing; that women existed, and that they did things that mattered.
Keep the statues and symbols of white male history; but properly explain what they’re symbolizing, and give me mine as well. The history and culture of our great country can be that much greater, and commemorate and honor us all.