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Charlottesville's Legacy Shaping Up As Exact Opposite of What Alt-Right Wanted

After this weekend's white-supremacist rally in Virginia, more Southern cities announce plans to take down Confederate monuments.

Jacob Langston/TNS/NewscomJacob Langston/TNS/NewscomBefore last weekend's "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville devolved into violence and tragedy, the gathering's ostensible goal was to preserve a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Earlier this year, city officials announced plans to remove the statue, erected in 1924, from the park once named in Lee's honor and recently rechristened Emancipation Park. An ongoing lawsuit has left the future of Charlottesville's Lee statue unclear at the moment.

But this weekend's rally was hardly a boon for the statute-keepers' cause more broadly. The only thing the U.S. right seems to have united on is condemnation of protesters playing "patriots" while wearing the insignia of two entities—the Confederacy and Nazi Germany—that declared war on the United States. Meanwhile, mayors of several Southern cities have declared an intent to remove memorials to Confederate generals from their city centers.

On Monday, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she has reached out to contractors about removing four Confederate-era monuments from central Baltimore and transferring them to Confederate soldier cemeteries around Maryland.

In Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray has announced plans to move two Confederate monuments from an area on the city's Main Street to a cemetery for Confederate veterans.

Another Kentucky mayor, Louisville's Greg Fischer*, said Sunday that the city's Commission on Public Art would review pieces throughout the city that could be interpreted as honoring racism and slavery. "I recognize that some people say all these monuments should be left alone, because they are part of our history," said Fischer. "But we need to discuss and interpret our history from multiple perspectives and from different viewpoints. That's why a community conversation is crucial."

Commenting on a statue of Confederate officer John B. Castleman that was vandalized Saturday, Fischer added that, "for many, this statue is a beloved neighborhood landmark, but for others, it's a symbol of a painful, tragic and divisive time in our history—which gets at the complexity of this conversation. I believe this is community conversation worth having."

In the wake of this weekend's events in Charlottesville, even some prominent GOP figureheads have spoken out in support of plans to remove Confederate monuments.

"We are the Party of Lincoln and a party that stands against divisive and hurtful symbols," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told BuzzFeed yesterday. "As Americans we can find ways to preserve our history but only if we are working toward an inclusive future that separates us from a hateful past."

Critics of moves like these tend to warn of slippery slopes—once we start judging historical figures by today's moral standards, most will come up wanting. Where does the call to remove relics of racism, sexism, and bigotry end? Many of the founding fathers were slaveowners, after all. Generations of Very Important Dudes didn't have such great views of women. And so on.

But we should also beware reflexively embracing the status quo just because there may be some merit to slippery-slope fears. It's not an all or nothing proposition here—one can support, say, Charlottesville removing this statue in this instance and still oppose broader calls to censor historical monuments or artifacts. One can support removing a particular figure's statue from a particular place of honor while still believing there is some place for the display of that work, such as a museum or a cemetery.

And one can oppose the social-justice-ification of popular politics while remembering that cities are dynamic places, which can and should evolve to meet the demands and preferences of their populaces.

Those calling for blanket bans on removing Confederate monuments are guilty of exactly the kind of authoritarianism they accuse their opponents of promoting. Ultimately, these decisions should be left to the people and elected officials of the individual places affected by such controversies.

Correction: Greg Fischer is the mayor of Louisville, not Lexington, Kentucky.

Photo Credit: Jacob Langston/TNS/Newscom

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  • damikesc||

    But we should also beware reflexively embracing the status quo just because there may be some merit to slippery-slope fears. It's not an all or nothing proposition here—one can support, say, Charlottesville removing this statue in this instance and still oppose broader calls to censor historical monuments or artifacts.

    You definitely can.

    It's just that your reasons for why it's OK here will be the same reasons why it's OK in other situations that you claim you don't want to see statues removed for. Your arguments will be used for stuff you don't like.

    Remember, libertarians swore that gay marriage wouldn't impact anybody. Florists, bakers, et al tend to disagree.

    And it is ironic that cities, in pursuit of doing what the voters want, seem to have few problems stifling those that the majority don't like. Everybody supports minority rights and all...until they're the majority.

  • Hugh Akston||

    States issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples doesn't negatively affect anyone. Completely distinct anti-discrimination laws, on the other hand, can negatively impact people who want to discriminate against people they don't like.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You mean like the completely distinct tax code and inheritance laws and visitation laws that required a change to marriage laws?

  • WakaWaka||

    Absolutely. The solution to big government is more government, of course. Genius

  • ||

    Isn't making laws the same for everyone actually LESS government?

  • WakaWaka||

    Isn't eliminating laws what libertarianism use to be about? Now it's just virtue signalling and that's about it.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    What? No. Libertarianism is not about eliminating laws, necessarily, but about eliminating violations of individual liberty. Sometimes a law upholds liberty, and sometimes a law violates liberty. There is no strict relationship.

  • WakaWaka||

    So then would you say that the government dictating who can marry is proper or not? Adding gay marriage as an acceptable form of marriage does not correct the limitations imposed by the state on human relationships. Marriage between relatives is still forbidden in every state (with varying degrees), not to mention multiple spouse marriages. How is this best resolved? More government or less?

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Government should stay out of marriage. However, if that is not an option, government should allow anyone to marry. Even relatives or mutiple spouses. I have no problem with that, if age of consent is not violated.

  • Teddy Pump||

    In a truly free & liberated society, private property owners & private business owners should have the right to serve whom they want, hire whom they want & rent to whom they want & not even have to explain themselves & not be forced to do so by Big Govt.....The Civil Rights Laws of the 60's, however well intended, should've been rules Unconstitutional, for they have ended up CRUSHING Freedom of Speech, Religion, Association & Conscience in many cases!.... Let the Free Markets decide!

    "Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism."
    -Barry Goldwater

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    If you like your florist, you can keep him -- even against his will.

  • JWatts||

    "If you like your florist, you can keep him -- even against his will."

    Well duh, you can't have the local florist deciding how to run his business on his own can we? sarcasm

  • ||

    Remember, libertarians swore that gay marriage wouldn't impact anybody.

    Except, well, gay people, but obviously they don't count in your equation.

    Handful of florists and bakers > gay people who want to get married.

  • WakaWaka||

    Principles > principals

    If you want to go play identity politics go read The Nation or just join the Libertarian Party at this point

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    If you define "impact" as "give a piece of paper to", then yeah.

  • ||

    There are certain legal rights that come with marriage, such as the treatment of inheritances and the taxes associated with inheritances.

    United_States_v._Windsor

    Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same-sex couple residing in New York, were lawfully married in Toronto, Canada, in 2007. Later in 2008, New York recognized their marriage following a court decision. Spyer died at the age of 77 in 2009, leaving her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. She was barred from doing so by Section 3 of DOMA (codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7), which provided that the term "spouse" only applied to marriages between a man and woman. The Internal Revenue Service found that the exemption did not apply to same-sex marriages, denied Windsor's claim, and compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes.

  • Zeb||

    How about cities can take down whatever statues they want that are on city property and I won't give a crap one way or another?

    Personally, I'm not a fan of celebrating Confederate heroes. But I'm not a fan of celebrating FDR or Woodrow Wilson either, yet here we are.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Most statues celebrate some asshole. Except for the few made of scientists and such, that actually improved on the human condition.

  • Zeb||

    It was a bad sign for this country when we started putting presidents on money and building grand monuments to them. Even with people like Washington and Jefferson should be respected for the good ideas they had, but not elevated to some god-like status.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Unfortunately, ancestor worship is embedded deep in the wiring of the human brain. It goes back to when people would hallucinate the voices of their dead superiors to maintain pack cohesion and build figurines with giant eyes to stimulate such voices. Now we put dead leaders on money and carve them into mountains.

  • mortiscrum||

    If it's a holiday where I don't have to work I mind it less xD

  • BambiB||

    When it comes to celebrating turds, you don't get much stinkier than Abraham Lincoln.

    Lincoln's War of Northern Aggression killed 2% of the population - North and South - purely to maintain control of the Southern States. Lincoln was willing to free all, some or none of the slaves to "preserve the union" (maintain control of the Southern States). Trashing habeas corpus, gunning down war protesters in the streets, instructing his generals (not just Sherman) to burn the homes of civilians to the ground, kill their livestock, rip out fence posts, even break their mill wheels - would be recognized as the acts of a War Criminal today. Locking up newspaper editors for disapproving of the war, using government money to pay off political benefactors. If you want to see a monument to a real piece of shit - look in your pocket.

    So once every Lincoln statue is eradicated, THEN we can talk about the Confederacy.

  • Hugh Akston||

    This is why cities should build monuments that the whole community can rally around.

  • creech||

    I'd question whether "saving the statue" was really what the alt-right wanted. Seems to me it was more like getting white nationalists "woke" and building hate club membership.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There's power in victimhood, and before the calls to remove Confederate memorabilia (or whatever you call it) these things were mostly ignored. Now it's a possible rally point. As usual, counter protesters play their part dutifully.

  • JFree||

    Don't underestimate the power of Confederate/slavery symbolism to those who want to keep the one-drop rule - and racial exclusivism as the definition of citizenship - and 'Lost Cause' revisionism as the way to interpret US history. These statues weren't erected right after the civil war. They were erected in the Lost Cause/Jim Crow era. And that symbolism never just disappears over time. Rather, the longer the symbols/mythologies remain visible, the more it reinforces a 'normal' traditionalist/conservative view of history.

  • Neolith80||

    Learn something new all the time. For instance, I didn't know Lexington KY had two mayors.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Everything works better with two heads of it.

    Where would be without the Popes.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Yoy know who else fancied himself a KY official?

  • BambiB||

    Luey De Lube?

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    Should be Louisville the second time! Thanks for pointing out; fixed now

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Meanwhile, mayors of several Southern cities have declared an intent to remove memorials to Confederate generals from their city centers.
    On Monday, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she has reached out to contractors about removing four Confederate-era monuments from central Baltimore and transferring them to Confederate soldier cemeteries around Maryland."

    Maryland is not the South.

  • Charles Easterly||

    I think Elizabeth had in mind the Mason Dixon Line when writing her article.

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    As a Cincinnati girl, everything south of us (and the Mason Dixon Line) is "the South" to me

  • loveconstitution1789||

    How dare you Ma'am!!! We in the South don't even get to control what consists of the "South"?

    Damn northern states like Vermont or South Carolina.
    SNL Buford Callaway

  • Roger Wilco||

    What's life without being able to look down on other people?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The only reason Maryland didn't join the CSA was Lincoln's occupying army.

  • JFree||

    That's pretty much crap. The border slave states (MD, MO, KY, DE) didn't want secession because the second they seceded, they would have no ability to have the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 enforced. Slavery requires that slaveowners be able to coerce others nearby into returning their runaway slaves. Yes their military position was also untenable but that is mostly a question of how much are white slaveowners willing to actually risk for economic slavery?

    Even VA/TN voted against secession early on - and only later (after Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for all troops in the Union to put down the rebellion) voted to secede because they didn't want to fight other Southerners. As it was, staying in the Union meant that MD and DE were almost irrelevant in the number of war casualties. Only the Deep South could make a purely ideological decision about secession/slavery based on the Fire Eaters delusions about victory.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    And suspension of habeas corpus.

  • mica||

    Depends on who you ask. It was South enough for pro-southern Baltimoreans to shoot at Massachusetts troops heading south before the war started. It was South enough for Lincoln to arrest officials in MD that were pro-south and place federal troops on a hill with cannons aimed at the harbor to prevent any southern uprising.

    However it is a border state so it could have gone either way. Nowadays, the 'southern' has been beaten out of it.

  • BambiB||

    Yah. Just one of the slave-holding states of the Union! (One specifically exempted by the "Emancipation" proclamation.)

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    OH GOD NO OUR HERITAGE

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    As if the majority of either side even knows when FDR defeated the russians at the battle of shiloh...

    THE WOKENESS.

  • Charles Easterly||

    As if the majority of either side even knows when FDR defeated the russians at the battle of shiloh.

    I agree.
    If I were a wagering man, I would put good money on the bet that most of us don't know that it was President Wilson who defeated Fascism and made the World Safe for Democracy ™ when he intervened in the French and Indian Wars.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    I didn't even know France and India went to war. It was about cheese, wasn't it.

  • ||

    Well - look at French cheese, and look at Indian cheese. The situation explains itself, really.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The French refused to put curry in their cheese!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    No, you're right. We should tear down all statutes of FDR and remove his name from all public signs and schools.

    He put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps, so giving him some credit for his leading us in WWII should be completely ignored.

    He was a racist too.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    In Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray has announced plans to move two Confederate monuments from an area on the city's Main Street to a cemetery for Confederate veterans.

    Another Kentucky mayor, Lexington's Greg Fischer...

    Are there 2 Lexington, KYs or does Lexington, KY have two mayors?

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    Second one should be Louisville; fixed now. Thanks!

  • ||

    I've not paid much attention to the particulars of the ideology of the original rallyers. I did find it quite amusing that they were presenting themselves as victims ("white lives matter!"). So much for white "power". Oh you poor helpless healthy male white 25 year-olds.

    Of course, this is exactly what Identity Politics preaches. Identify yourself within a group based on an external characteristic. Claim victimhood. Whine loudly about your victimhood.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Well, yes. But that kind of thinking is celebrated among minority groups while it is condemned for white males. That contradiction cannot remain standing, it is an inherently unstable philosophy.

  • Don't look at me.||

    We are all, each and every one of us, victims.

  • JWatts||

    "Well, yes. But that kind of thinking is celebrated among minority groups while it is condemned for white males. That contradiction cannot remain standing, it is an inherently unstable philosophy."

    Absolutely, but the correct fix is NOT to make male white 25 year olds into an identity group.

  • Zeb||

    It's pretty interesting to see how close the white nationalists (or whatever they are) are to any other identity politics group. If you listen to the more well-spoken and less overtly racist promoters of that stuff, it's pretty much the same collectivist bullcrap you get from all kinds of identity groups.

  • WakaWaka||

    They're all racist, Zeb. And none of them are particularly all that well spoken.

  • Zeb||

    I heard one extended interview with a self-identified white nationalist who was pretty articulate and good at presenting his ideas. It was all awful race-based collectivism and utopian nonsense, but he presented it in a calm and superficially rational way.

  • ||

    Except one is more prone to attack and shut down 'wrong think'.

    I think we know who they are.

    But according to Cocktail Libertarianism both are equally as bad!

    Nope.

    The left are worse.

    Far and away more detrimental to liberty than a sad sack bunch of white nationalists could ever be. Call me when they go to campuses shutting down people or acting out violently.

    Until then, I completely reject this argument of 'they're both bad'.

  • Zeb||

    Well, they are both bad. It's apples to oranges, so I won't make a claim that (as an ideology, not a practical danger) they are equal or one is worse than another. You are right about which one is more of a danger, though. There is no danger of white nationalists taking over the country. My comment was really just an observation about how similar they are.

  • SIV||

    It's quite the reach to call Lexington, KY and Baltimore, MD "southern cities". Their aspirations to the moniker were crushed over 150 years ago.

  • Zeb||

    So, southern=former-Confederate?

  • ||

    In fairness, they themselves tend to reject the "Southern" label. Many of my in-laws are from the Lexington area, and they seem to consider themselves more Midwesterners that Southerners, and my brother and his wife lived in MD for about seven years, and people around their parts were insistent that that area is "Mid-Atlantic," not "South."

  • Zeb||

    I've met Marylanders who consider themselves southern and some who don't. It's nothing to me one way or another. I'm just amused that everyone is sure they have the proper definition. Anywhere that isn't covered in snow for most of the winter is southern to me.

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    I come from a long line of Kentucky folk, and I've always heard them refer to themselves as Southerners, not Midwesterners

  • ||

    I've been led to believe that there's something of difference between Lexington and "KY proper," but if you're actually from there you would obviously know better than I.

  • SIV||

    Southern cultural roots, not southern states. Florida is the South. KY, MO, OK and WV are not.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think people who live along the Appalachian Hills get some bumkin-type looks but they ain't southern y'all.

  • ||

    Yeah - there's definitely no transcendental category of "Southness" than can be objectively determined. I think SIV's point was merely that a sub-head saying "more Southern cities announce plans to take down Confederate monuments" creates an impression of something more dramatic like, say, Birmingham AL or Columbia SC taking down Confederate monuments, rather than states that are only "kinda-sorta" South at best and were on the Union side in the war.

  • Brandybuck||

    Hopefully the right gets woke about the scumbags in its midst. Hopefully it's a wake up call to start hosing out the dank corners of spectrum.

    Of course, the alt-right is NOT on the right. They are socialists, collectivists, and anti-propertarians. They aren't even fascists, for cripe's sake. They are wannabee Nazis, and Nazis were nation socialists, not fascists. The only reason people think Nazis were on the right was because they allied with Mussolini against Stalin, but ideologically they are squarely on the left. But... like it or not the alt-right still claims to be right, and the media keeps sticking to their talking points.

    So the right (as in every organized ideological/political group the media refers to as "right") needs to actively condemn these cretins every chance it gets,

  • Mickey Rat||

    In most aspects, Nazism is fascism. The main difference is Nazism has an ethnic superiority ethic that is not inherent to fascism.

  • Brandybuck||

    Except for the open display of militarism and a cult of the personality, Nazism doesn't share any characteristics of fascism. And in fact, Stalinism shares those characteristics as well.

    The core distinction between the left and the right, for the past century and a half, has been the attitude towards property and wealth accumulation. Nazism allowed for the nominal private ownership of property and wealth, but it was explicit that all uses of property must be subsumed to the will of the state. And despite the Hitler personality cult, Nazi rhetoric are centered about the state, people, and party, not around the leader. Italian Fascism would have withered without Mussolini, but Nazism could have kept going without Hitler.

    Again, Nazism got branded as being on the right by the leftists enamored of global socialism. To them, national socialism was their opposite, and thus must be on the right.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Exactly. Nazis are racist fascists who love socialism.

    Fascists are not necessarily racist nor socialist.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Collectivists and communitarians can be on 'the right.'

  • WakaWaka||

    And often are

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Then they are not on the right but socialists who are religious. There are religious people on the left too.

    Right in American means conservative. As in change happens slowly and by overwhelming support not because of revolutions or social change-of-the-day.

  • ||

    I think the effort to characterize "Left" and "Right" in a way that encompasses everyone will simply lead one in circles. The four-poled Nolan chart is a bit better, but is still too simplistic.

  • Brandybuck||

    Yes, but left and right is the language the simplistic media demands we use. Thus, racists and conservatives and Republicans and libertarians MUST be the same people because the media tells us they are all on the same side of the spectrum. A libertarian is just a more extreme version of a racist conservative religious Republican.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Libertarianism is not a racist ideology.

    Libertarians are usually too busy not giving a shit about anyone to be racist.

  • WakaWaka||

    It does seem rather odd that General Lee of all southerners is being singled-out as 'worse than Hitler'. You can make the argument with Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, but Lee was just a good general that refused to take up arms against his home state of Virginia. Local governments should be allowed to make their own decisions on this matter, but it would be nice to have some people who are not historically ignorant make a counter point about why Lee was not the demon that the PC Left has made him out to be.

    But, libertarianism now only means 'virtue signalling'. If only, they would have been so fervent in defending free speech over this past year as they've been in supporting taking monuments.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    Lee was just a good general that refused to take up arms against his home state of Virginia

    Huh, so all this time I thought Lee actually led an army I was totally wrong.

  • WakaWaka||

    So did Sherman who committed genocide by today's standards.

  • JFree||

    Yeesh. What nonsense. Unless you think 'railroad rails' and 'property' are a species of human.

  • WakaWaka||

    Do you think the people of Atlanta would have a different take on your argument?

  • Zeb||

    He certainly committed some major atrocities. I wouldn't say "genocide" myself, since it didn't specifically target an ethnic or racial group.

  • Calidissident||

    Whatever you think of it, Sherman's campaign was not genocidal. He targeted property, infrastructure, etc. he didn't order civilians to be killed en masse.

  • JFree||

    Depends on whether they have watched too much Gone with the Wind or not.

    FACT however is that:
    1. Sherman ordered the evacuation of Atlanta a day or so after he entered in early Sept (and put out the fires of ammo stores started by Hood) - The city of Atlanta, being exclusively required for warlike purposes, will at once be vacated by all except the armies of the United States - reinforced by the Mayor that day who organized the actual evacuation - NOT genocide by any definition and in fact strong evidence that he wants to avoid civilian casualties.

    2. He ordered the destruction of the - now-empty - city two months later when 'garrisoning' the city was deemed too expensive so 'abandonment' was instead pursued. NOT genocide by any definition.

    3. Atlantans started returning a couple days later. And a month or so later reelected the Mayor who was by your argument complicit in genocide. Hardly believable. But hey - why let the truth get in the way of a good myth?

  • JFree||

    BTW - much of the meme of 'Union soldiers burned our town too during the Civil War' is crap. For anyone interested in genealogy, the almost complete destruction of pre-war documentation is such a shame. But outside of the obvious dozen or so well-known towns torched by armies, most of that sort of destruction was actually done by local slaveowners. They were deliberately destroying the local records of their slave ownership so that they couldn't be legally punished if the Union imposed 'forty acres and a mule' or somesuch earlier plans.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    No. Sherman's army actually did not just indiscriminately kill civilians.

    They took animals and property and burned homes and property to prevent them from supplying the Confederate Army.

  • Calidissident||

    I don't think Lee was, by the standards of the Southern plantation owner class of the 1800s, a particularly bad person (low bar and all - he still owned a bunch of slaves). That said, the reason there's so many monuments for him is specifically because of his involvement in the Confederacy, and it's the pro-Confederate sentiment behind that that people are opposed to. Advocates of the "Lost Cause" engaged in a widespread propaganda campaign to whitewash the Confederacy and Confederate monuments were a big part of that, to the point where Kentucky, a Union state, has far more monuments and memorials for Confederates than they do for the Union.

    I don't know what site you've been reading if you think Reason hasn't taken a pro-free speech stance in the past year.

  • WakaWaka||

    No, I definitely saw Reason write several articles denouncing violence against Trump supporters by arguing that 'it only emboldens Trump'. When you have to virtue signal to defend free speech- you're not defending free speech

  • Zeb||

    I think you miss the point of those arguments. It's possible to defend free speech and point out the downsides of not having free speech to those who don't support it on principle.

  • WakaWaka||

    I've had this argument with you before. I respect your point. Maybe I'm too extreme, but I long for the days when liberals (as in all those who respect individual rights) use to unequivocally defend the right of all people to speak without adding the caveat that 'to be sure, their ideas are bad' or 'if we don't let them speak than it just emboldens their argument'.

    These are all true points, but they distract from the fact that all speech should be defended without an explanation. When we provide an explanation for why we should allow socialists or fascists to speak, we are inadvertently saying that there is a rationale for letting someone speak, when the only rationale should be that they are human and endowed with the natural right to speak. This point should not be muddled with other equivocations.

  • Zeb||

    I'd like it if that were the way to convince people. But most people don't seem to be that principled about much of anything and need to be told why it's important and beneficial to have absolute protections of free speech.

    I think it is good to be careful how you use language and make sure that you are saying that no one's speech should be interfered with rather than saying that any particular speech should be permitted (which implies that someone is in a position to give permission or not).

  • Calidissident||

    Supporting free speech doesn't mean you can't criticize speech. There's no logical reason why Reason writers should have to refrain from condemning ideas they oppose just because they don't believe they should be illegal to express. Demanding that is a form of political correctness itself ironically.

  • WakaWaka||

    Nor am I saying they shouldn't criticize the speech. What I am saying is that using that criticism as justification for why they should be allowed to speak (we need to let Trump speak otherwise we embolden his supporters, etc) weakens the argument that 'speech is an inalienable right and outside of the government's purview' full stop.

  • Calidissident||

    I see your point, but people have always made pragmatic defenses of free speech along with philosophical rights-based ones. Additionally, I think the point of the practical argument is to get the people on the other side of the argument to stop and think about the consequences of their position. If you just hammer home the rights-based argument non-stop, very few are going to reconsider anything, let alone be converted. The practical argument can be more effective in getting people to see why their position is dangerous, and that can lead to an acceptance of the rights-based argument. Just my opinion.

  • ||

    I can see what you're saying about the virtue signaling in regard to certain types of speech, but I think that's being done at least in part to counteract an older negative image of Pat Buchanan/Lew Rockwell-style "libertarians" who seemed to only show up to defend free speech when it was someone saying something racist or sexist. This, I think, is the reason why reason (drink twice, suckers) feels compelled to signal their disapproval of these ideas while defending the right to express them – because otherwise they will be portrayed as Nazi sympathizers.

  • JFree||

    There is one very valid equivocation of 'free speech'. When one is using the legal protections accorded to speech in order to create a riot and remain unaccountable for that violence, then it is not 'speech' anymore. The best analogy is honestly the leaders of a lynch mob who are careful to keep their own hands off the rope but who ensure, through their speech, that others act.

    There is no question in my mind that both sides here fully intend to create violence - so that they can spin the violence to their own advantage. This has been building for these two groups for a long time at many different places and Charlottesville for them is merely the first 'successful' example of speech as a means towards political violence.

  • WakaWaka||

    Nonsense. The courts have rightfully concluded that in order for speech to be illegal it must pose an 'immediate and plausible threat'. Meaning if I shout to a crowd of people who are rabid bigots, let's go kill this guy who is nearby and then they do, I am responsible for incitement. Nothing said at those rallies (on either side) posed an immediate or plausible threat. While, the courts do not impose the limitations of a natural right, I think they've drawn the right line here.

  • JFree||

    Nothing said at those rallies (on either side) posed an immediate or plausible threat.

    Not yet. And I agree with you that that is why they are still being allowed. But the reality is that both sides are now bringing weapons (and converting everyday objects like cars into weapons) to their 'rallies'. The purpose of that is not to have some dry debate about the 2nd Amendment. The purpose is to get the cops to step back and not step into the middle of a two-front war. So that the two sides can bust heads.

    This chain of events over multiple events is not coincidence or happenstance. This is where both sides want it to go - and there comes a point where advocates of free speech will have to make our own decision about whether our personal self-preservation (because both sides will view that advocacy as 'the enemy') outweighs our advocacy of free speech.

  • WakaWaka||

    Lee was not seen as a bad person by Grant and Lincoln's standards, as well. Grant threatened to resign his command if Lee was prosecuted for insurrection. Lee denounced the KKK, spoke against guerrilla tactics to continue the war, and supported the end of slavery. You should read a book.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, Lee was an honorably guy by the standards of the time and was magnanimous in defeat.

    But I thing Calidissident's point that the statues are honoring the Confederate fight, whose purpose (among others) was to maintain slavery, is still relevant.

  • WakaWaka||

    Look, I have no special fondness for Lee or the Southern cause. I was born and raised far north of the Mason-Dixon line. I think ENB strikes the right balance by saying that these local communities should decide about what statues should stay or go. I absolutely agree, unequivocally.

    My only point, that I think I didn't make well, was that Lee is an odd choice. I also recognize that many of these statues were put up during the Civil Rights Era and not immediately after the end of the Civil War, which obviously provides some racial connotations to their construction.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, making Lee, personally, out to be a monster is silly. The motivations for putting the statues there in the first place is much more relevant.

  • Calidissident||

    I agree that Lee's far from the worst person on the side of the Confederacy, like I said above I think it has more to do with the motivation for why he's being honored.

    To draw off the comparison people draw between him and Washington - Washington was also guilty of some horrific actions that weren't as universally condemned in his day. That said, he's honored for his role in freeing the colonies from British rule and for voluntarily relinquishing power after his terms as president ended, when he probably could have become a king - an extremely unusual and revolutionary thing to do in those days. On the other hand, Lee is honored precisely because of his role in leading Confederate armies - something that most people consider to be a shitty thing because of what the Confederacy stood for and resulted in, even if you can argue that Lee's motives, actions, and character weren't as bad, as Davis or Forest. I do agree the latter are better targets btw.

    I get the slippery slope argument, but I think it goes both ways. Should the former USSR keep up all the monuments to Lenin and Stalin? Should Germany have kept all the Nazi monuments? When the Castro and Kim regimes fall, should Cuba and North Korea keep all the monuments to them? I agree it's not as simplistic as some people make it out to be, but I think that happens on both sides of the debate.

  • Calidissident||

    Grant and Lincoln weren't saints themselves, and I don't see what your point is, I'm not arguing Lee was a cartoonishly evil "worse than Hitler" figure. I'm just saying that at some point you can't entirely hand wave away crimes against humanity because of the culture of the time any more than you can because of the culture of a location or group today.

    You're misrepresenting Lee's views on slavery, btw. He did say it evil, but he also thought it was necessary to "civilize" blacks and thought it was worse for white people than it was for black people. Furthermore, he said that how long it was necessary was known only by God and thus only he could end it. He opposed abolitionists who tried to actually end it in the real world because he viewed them as essentially usurping God's role.

  • WakaWaka||

    Maybe, I jumped the gun. Read by response to Zeb above. That's all I'm trying to say

  • GroundTruth||

    t does seem rather odd that General Lee of all southerners is being singled-out as 'worse than Hitler'. You can make the argument with Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, but Lee was just a good general that refused to take up arms against his home state of Virginia. Local governments should be allowed to make their own decisions on this matter, but it would be nice to have some people who are not historically ignorant make a counter point about why Lee was not the demon that the PC Left has made him out to be.

    I've been stewing about this exact point since this thing hit the news on Saturday. Once can concede that the PC artifact removal has some valid points on its side, but picking a statue of Lee is picking the wrong hill to die on. Lee lived in an era when one referred to "these" as opposed to "the" United States. Lee was willing to support his state, right or wrong. Would that a certain recent president had been equally willing to stand up for the United States.

  • ||

    Wouldn't Rommel be a good comparison to Lee? A highly skilled General who sympathized with the (gross) ideology of their political masters but was primarily exemplary because of their leadership on the battlefield?

  • Brandybuck||

    There is Robert E Lee the human being. And then there is Robert E Lee the symbol of the racist Confederacy. There are no statues to the former, and plenty for the latter. Where is the statue of Lee in his U.S. or pre-secession Virginia uniform? I don't see any. There are only statues of him in a Confederate uniform.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Sorta OT: Van Jones is still a disingenuous and/or lying twat

    Sometimes we act as if the only things that matter here are the words and language when you say something, that's very very important, but there is a policy implication that we haven't talked about enough, which is that you have an administration that when it comes to counterterrorism, it's been reported, is moving its resources away from these white supremacist hate groups and focusing solely on, almost exclusively on radical Islam.

    Because The Klan has a habit of getting stabby, shooty, and explody. They're totes the same... (yes, the car thing, but thats not exactly a trend, but an outlier.) And as far as (the few remaining) real white supremacists coming out of the woodwork, you can thank the racism of BLM and how it, while being a terrorist org in its own right, got legitimized by the media. Congrats guys. Bigotry begets bigotry.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Mostly OT question here:

    while wearing the insignia of two entities—the Confederacy and Nazi Germany—that declared war on the United States


    How exactly did the 1861 war start? Were there actual declarations of war from the CSA? I'm sure Lincoln did not, because a declaration of war would have recognized the CSA as a nation; but did the north ever actually declare the south in rebellion? That same logic means it might have been in the CSA's interest to declare war and imply they were equals as nation states.

  • Charles Easterly||

    Scarecrow,

    Try typing the following partial quote into a web search Whereas existing exigencies demand immediate and adequate measures for the protection of the National Constitution and the preservation of the National Union by the suppression of the insurrectionary combinations now existing in several States for opposing the laws of the Union and obstructing the execution thereof, to which end a military force in addition to that called forth by my proclamation of the 15th day of April in the present year appears to be indispensably necessary:

    I found this later quote disturbing: The COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES:

    You are engaged in suppressing an insurrection against the laws of the United States. If at any point on or in the vicinity of any military line which is now or which shall be used between the city of Philadelphia and the city of Washington you find resistance which renders it necessary to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for the public safety, you personally, or through the officer in command at the point where resistance occurs, are authorized to suspend that writ.

    Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at the city of Washington, this 27th day of April, 1861, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

    If you'd like to see where I found these it was here.

  • Rebel Scum||

    How exactly did the 1861 war start?

    Lincoln dispatched a force to reinforce the tax-collection post at Fort Sumter with the intent to enforce tariff taxes on what, then, functioned as a foreign country. The SC militia found out and decided to take the fort. A bombardment ensued. There were no casualties. The US fleet arrived during the bombardment but did not engage. The desired result had been achieved. The event somehow "justified" a full scale invasion of Virginia and all subsequent horrors.

  • JFree||

    Fort Sumter (and Moultrie) was purely a military/naval post protecting the harbor entrance. Tariffs were collected at the Customs House - the old one now called the Old Exchange and Provost - and a newer one - now called US Custom House - that was still under construction in 1860. Both those were captured in Dec 1860 and neither of them could remotely be recaptured without taking Charleston itself.

  • GroundTruth||

    See "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union".

  • ||

  • JFree||

    It started with SC attack on federal property (Fort Sumter) in their state. Technically, SC had demanded surrender of that property in Jan1861 and started a siege. But Buchanan was a lame duck, had no interest in making a decision, and prob didn't have the constitutional authority to surrender it anyway without Congress initiating that. Once Lincoln came into office, SC repeated the demand. Lincoln decided to reinforce Sumter through the siege - and SC fired on and took Sumter as those reinforcements started arriving.

    That gave both sides what they needed to start the war. The Confederacy needed to exert total sovereignty over its territorial claims in order to claim status as a 'nation'. Lincoln needed an overt act of war against the Union on his watch in order to exert CinC authority.

  • Brandybuck||

    The Confederate States of America fired the first shots in the war when they attacked Fort Sumter. Read a book.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Oh for Pete's sake. Fort Sumter is well known. I meant the legality aspect of it, if war was declared, etc.

  • SIV||

    Those calling for blanket bans on removing Confederate monuments are guilty of exactly the kind of authoritarianism they accuse their opponents of promoting. Ultimately, these decisions should be left to the people and elected officials of the individual places affected by such controversies.

    Like in Bamiyan, Ms. Taliban?

  • Jgalt1975||

    I missed the part where the Taliban was the elected government of Afghanistan....

  • Rebel Scum||

    We are the Party of Lincoln and a party that stands against divisive and hurtful symbols,

    Lincoln illegally suspended habeus corpus, imprisoned opposition journalists (and outspoken judges), instituted military conscription, illegally imprisoned the Maryland legislature, and worked until his dying day to deport black people from the U.S. Are likenesses of Lincoln divisive?

  • Zeb||

    Maybe we should just stop making heroes out of politicians and generals.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Indeed.

  • GroundTruth||

    Reasons why he is in a three-way tie with FDR and LBJ in my list of worst presidents.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    FDR put Americans in concentration camps.

    LBJ had the USA involved in a non-defensive war his entire presidency.

    Obama had the USA involved in a non-defensive war his entire presidency.

    Johnson and Clinton were impeached by the House only.

    Nixon resigned before being impeached.

    Top 6 worst presidents eva!

  • Zeb||

    Lincoln illegally suspended habeus corpus

    I've often wondered about this assertion. Doesn't the constitution specifically permit it to be suspended in an insurrection? Is the argument that it wasn't actually an insurrection when Lincoln suspended h.c. or something else that I'm missing?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its was not unconstitutional to suspend habeas corpus but he only did in Washington to Philly and later up to NY City. Of course he suspend habeas corpus and elections so they could not vote to secede.

  • Billy Bones||

    I believe that all monuments/memorials should be removed. They are all symbols, and symbols mean different things to different people. How are monuments to Washington and Jefferson (Mt. Rushmore) different than monuments to Lee and Davis. They were all slave owners. How can a person exonerate Washington but persecute Lee when they both committed the same crime?

    I hold most Confederate symbolism dear, but not because of what the South stood for. To me, Confederate symbolism is a reminder that we are no longer a Union of states, but servants to the Federal government. We willfully "add" states to our Union (looking at you Puerto Rico), but go to war and kill those who decide they no longer wish to be part of that Union. You may join, but you may never leave. If CalExit ever takes hold, will the US Army invade and start killing Californians?

  • ||

    /spins Hotel California.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yes, lets erase all history books and burn all museums to the ground!

    Its history and try and erase it at your peril.

  • ranrod||

    Eyewitnesses: James Fields' Car Was 'Attacked,' Police Set Up Rally-Goers To Be Assaulted..
    Some cops reportedly believed that Fields struck the counter-protesters by accident while trying to escape violent attackers.
    Charlottesville police forced Unite the Right rally-goers to walk directly through mobs of un-patrolled Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters, sparking the violence that led to mayhem and destruction in the streets of Charlottesville Saturday. The police then stood down and allowed the violence to happen. Some of the protesters on the Left were paid agitators.
    "Car that hit those people drove right by us 3 mins after. Was beat all to fuck. Big rectangular square holes in rear windshield in addition to all the damage you see done to it in the photos," the eyewitness said.

  • ranrod||

    "Anyway several police officers at the station here think the guy running people down wasn't malicious. They said the driver was scared," The Hill reporter Taylor Lorenz tweeted as the case was developing. That tweet is now deleted.
    Obviously, there can be no challenge to the official media narrative pushed by Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and Democrats and establishment Republicans, which claims that Fields intentionally ran over counter-protesters in a deliberate terrorist act.
    It is unclear exactly what a second Civil War would look like in this country in 2017, and what form it would take. But it's perfectly clear, based on the events in Charlottesville and the mainstream globalist media's round-the-clock attack on Trump and his supporters, that a cold Civil War is already underway.

    http://bigleaguepolitics.com/e.....assaulted/

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Baloney. According to the videos I've seen he never even touched the brakes when he drove into the crowd. People in the street at first tried to get out of the way. And he had open road behind him to back up into if he was blocked.

  • Gezzer||

    I'm a Canadian (sorry about that) and due to this being our 150th centennial I found myself in an interesting debate about one of our own founding fathers Sir John A. Macdonald.

    It was my contention and still is that we can celebrate his accomplishments while still acknowledging his mistakes. It doesn't make him any less of a great man. Great historical figures existed in their time, not ours, and their acts reflect it. Well some facts may diminish them when viewed from a more modern light, it doesn't change who they were and what they did historically.

    The statues are a strange one though. They're symbols, and like any symbol mean different things to different people. As a group we have to remain sensitive to this fact and act accordingly. My prefered course of action? Keep the statues where they are, with a display explaining the context in which the person lived and why the statute exist. More importantly give the full context, warts and all. But I can see why moving them might be prefered.

    We just have to be careful that in our zeal to reduce the impact of offensive symbols we don't detract any meaning, good or bad, from those symbols. It's tantamount to whitewashing history and is a very dangerous direction to take for everyone, even those ultimately offended by the symbols. Those that forget their history are prone to repeat it, and we need reminders to help prevent that happening.

  • Enemy of the State||

    In the US, unpleasant or controversial past events are constantly subject to revisions and at times outright erasures so as not to serve as reminders to the people of from whence they came.

    It's all very 1984ish...

  • Enemy of the State||

    "...the Confederacy and Nazi Germany—that declared war on the United States."

    Only the Confederacy never declared war on the US...

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    I'm no CSA fan, but I don't think they declared war on the US. I guess the analogy works since most people went to public school and stuff.

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