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Trump’s Idea of Uniting the Country: Complaining About Removal of Confederate Memorials

But guess what happens whenever art gets in the way of one of his developments?

Another Twitter flare-up from President Donald Trump this morning is going to command the news cycle for the day. Trump began ranting about Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Jeff Flake (Arizona), consistent critics of Trump's behavior. Trump called Graham a publicity seeker and expressed happiness that Flake was facing a primary opponent.

And then Trump decided to wade back into the Confederate monument debate, after having been blasted on all sides yesterday. A trio of tweets to get your morning started:

Trump knows all about removing art that will be missed and cannot be replaced. When Trump was building his tower in New York City he had destroyed art deco friezes a museum wanted to preserve because it delayed the demolition of a skyscraper that needed to come down.

Trump also has a monument to a civil war battle that never happened at his golf club in Virginia.

As for the slippery slope contention—that this will lead to the tearing down of non-Confederate memorials because people are offended—Eric Boehm and Ronald Bailey have both explained effectively here at Reason how easy it is to draw a line between American historical figures who have owned slaves or have done other bad things versus those who waged war with the United States in order to preserve slavery.

It is worth noting that Trump is hardly an outlier in not wanting monuments to come down. An NPR poll released this week showed that 62 percent of Americans want these statues to remain "as a historical symbol." A remarkable nugget from the poll: Even more African Americans (44 percent) want them to remain than want them removed (40 percent). Unsurprisingly, more African Americans were unsure what to do with them (16 percent) than white people (8 percent) or Latino people (11 percent) polled.

There are many ways to interpret these results that have nothing to do with support for the Confederacy. The results may say more about the unease of many Americans with what appears to be censorship (even when it's not actually censorship).

Perhaps it would be easier if these statues were not in the hands of government, and the social cost of the controversy shouldered by private individuals. And as an added bonus, it wouldn't cost taxpayers to deal with it. I joked on Twitter that cities should sell the Confederate statues to people who care so much about preserving them and redistribute the money back to its citizens.

In Los Angeles, a memorial for Confederate soldiers at Hollywood Forever Cemetery was just removed at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group who placed the marker there at the 1920s. Yes, there was some social pressure to remove it, obviously, but private people making the decision about whether to display such a memorial is preferable to government officials deciding the correct way to remember our Confederate history and Civil War.

Photo Credit: Erin Scott CreditErin Scott/Polaris/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is there any uniting the country on this?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Not having anymore progressives would unite the country. They're the problem. Now we just need a plan to divest America of them.

  • BambiB||

    There is such a plan. It's called "civil war".

  • Rhywun||

    I don't know about Trump or other knuckle-draggers but my main feeling is that taking down statues, renaming streets, and other forms of whitewashing are completely meaningless, empty gestures that will do absolutely nothing in the long run to help America "heal".

  • Zeb||

    The world is full of statues of tyrants and kings and killers.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god."

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I save dozens of lives every day. By sparing the lives of denizens of morons, progtards, and other assorted shitbags I encounter throughout my day.

    Pretty fucking generous of me if you think about it.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

  • Cynical Asshole||

  • Juice||

    Buddha?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Probably. And Jesus too.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's not meant to help America "heal." It's meant to punish people who engage in wrongthink.

  • John C. Randolph||

    More like, it's meant to bait them so that the "antifa" kiddies can feel powerful by screaming at them or getting into a fistfight with them.

    -jcr

  • Tony||

    I find it best to ask the actual people affected what they think. In most cases that would be black people.

    Would you like it if every day on your way to work you had to cross a street whose name essentially means "I shit on you personally because you're different"?

  • NoVaNick||

    completely meaningless, empty gestures that will do absolutely nothing in the long run to help America "heal".

    Those were my almost exact words to my wife, who is pretty upset about the statues/street names. I tried to tell her that there are more important social problems that need our attention and removing statues won't solve a single one, but she didn't want to hear it and said "they are offensive to many people and need to go".

    Some bozo on NPR was convinced that this is only happening now because Trump is president. Excuse me? Dylan Roof shot those people 2 years ago, before he was even a candidate.

    This is all about feelings-nothing more than feelings...

  • Tony||

    And feelings are completely irrelevant?

    Tell that to the many people here with infinite butthurt over this.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I guess you won't be butthurt when MLK, JFK, and FDR statues and historical markers are taken down.

  • Ra's al Gore||

    You CAN draw a line, but that doesn't mean the left will. What is sillier, removing Jefferson and Washington statues (with the 'benefit' of delegitimizing the BOR and written Constitution), or claiming there are 67 genders?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    What's sillier: this meaningless controversy, or people who believe Deep Impact is superior to Armageddon?

  • sarcasmic||

    Anything is superior to Armageddon.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I'd tell you to eat my dirty underwear if I didn't think you'd do it.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Life is silly and meaningless.

    And Leelee Sobieski > Liv Tyler

  • Pompey:何 Class Mothersmucker||

  • CE||

    Are you from some other universe?

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Don't flatter me.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You go too far sir. I for one think we should replace all of the Confederate statues with statues of President Morgan Freeman.

  • CE||

    Since Baltimore took down the Taney statue yesterday, maybe they can put one up to Clarence Thomas, the great African-American Supreme Court Justice in its place.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The American flag should be replaced by a painting of Morgan Freeman's face, and each state will be represented by one of his adorable freckles.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Or maybe a statue of president Bill Pullman giving his great inspirational speech in the back of that pickup truck.

  • Tony||

    Do you think the aliens would even debate destroying such a statue if they had won that war?

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    [...] but private people making the decision about whether to display such a memorial is preferable to government officials deciding the correct way to remember our Confederate history and Civil War.


    "You libertarians just want to privatize everything! You wouod privatize your own mothet if it suited you!"

    /statist derp on the left and Trumpista sides, both to blame equally.

  • Reality||

    Your garbage poster and no one will miss you when you finally die .

  • μ Aggressor||

    you're

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Looks like you've got an admirer.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I joked on Twitter that cities should sell the Confederate statues to people who care so much about preserving them and redistribute the money back to its citizens.

    That is what should happen.

    You need to work on your jokes, Shackie.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    He gets so close to being a real libertarian, but turns out it was just a joke. SIGH

  • Rhywun||

    there was some social pressure to remove it

    A private plaque was taken down this week in NYC. "Some social pressure", indeed. They did it to prevent vandals from doing it - or worse - for them.

  • sarcasmic||

    ...those who waged war with the United States in order to preserve slavery.

    The South seceded to preserve slavery. The war was waged by the federal government to preserve the Union. Why is that so hard to understand?

  • Memory Hole||

    And if you're too stupid to figure that out you it really calls into question your ability to reason.

  • Zeb||

    Does "waging war" necessarily imply that the one doing the waging was the initial aggressor?

  • Reality||

    Yes.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Seeing as the Confederate States fired the first shots, I'm not sure the question matters.

  • sarcasmic||

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe those first shots were fired to get Union troops off of land claimed by the Confederacy. It's not like the South tried to take over the North. The tried to push the North off of their land, and in return the North waged a war of aggression to stop the South from exiting the Union.

  • JFree||

    SC sold that land in perpetuity to the USA in 1827 in order to have the forts built there and get their pork. And by that act of SC and the Constitution (Congress shall exercise exclusive legislation over all places purchased by the consent of the state legislature to erect forts/etc), it no longer became a SC decision or a SC territorial claim.

    Legally SC's act of war was identical to Cuba trying to take over Guantanamo or the US shelling the UN building or any country invading an embassy. It wasn't THEIR land any more. It was an 'enclave' under American jurisdiction. And violation of those enclaves has been considered an act of war under 'international law' since at least Grotius.

  • JFree||

    Actually more serious than either the UN building examples or the embassy examples (which are both considered act of war) since SC sold the land and didn't just cede authority.

  • JFree||

    And BTW - the whole notion that secession was merely about being left alone is a fabrication of 1880's Lost Cause mythology. The actual strategy as written in contemporaneous documents was the 'King Cotton' approach. Roughly:

    1. The South could bring the entire world to its knees merely because it controlled cotton - and thus could play off one power against another and let them fight each other in order to get that precious cotton.
    2. That the South had been generous beyond the point of forbearance in the previous 50 years in keeping the US afloat. Merely withdrawing that generosity would put the US into panic.
    2. Controlling New Orleans would strangle the US west of the Appalachians and force them to come to terms with the South
    3. The East Coast textile factories and bankers (slaveowners were always in debt) would submit because of the above preeminence of cotton
    4. Ultimately in North America this was a war about which economic system worked better - the new industrial system of wage labor or the feudal/slave system of labor tied to land. The South not only believed they would win but would force the US - state by state - into submitting to joining the Confederacy on slaveowners terms.

  • sasob||

    Yeah, pretty much.

  • CE||

    But the people who want the statues removed weren't complaining about the "waging war" part before. They're using that line now so as not to scare the people who think Washington and Jefferson are next. Once all the "war wager" statues are down, they'll move the goalposts to "slave owners", and then on to "anti-equality" or some other label. It's naive to think otherwise.

  • JFree||

    Indeed. A strawman will always tu quoque down the slippery slope before they hit the lowered bar and miss the moving goalposts and finally fall into the pit of NIMBY.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Things we could do with old statues:

    Never clean them. Let the pigeon poop pile up. I suppose you might want to spray it with disinfectant once in a while; the resultant streaks would be a fitting memorial for government art. Maybe they could get yellow disinfectant.

    Dress them up in frilly pink costumes on Valentine's day.

    Have monthly contests on the best paint schemes. People would enter by standing in line for their preferred statue; first one in line on contest day wins, and all previous entrants must stand in the back of the line in following years, to favor the new guys. You could end up with French Musketeers riding zebras.

    But tear them down? What a waste.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I have a dream... a dream of a country... without statues of assholes... or at least black assholes... and white assholes... with statues dedicated to their assholiness... together.

    Stop hating, haters!

  • sasob||

    You're dreaming of the Peoples Republic of China - right?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Oh Scottie, you left out the best part of the Hollywood Forever story:

    Many Angelenos only recently learned, via an August 4 Los Angeles Times op-ed, that it was home to a Confederate memorial.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    UPROOT THE DEAD MONSTER AND BURN THEM AND SPRINKLE THEIR ASHES IN THE SEWER

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    My head hurts.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I'm with ya, brother.

  • NYC2AZ||

  • Roger Wilco||

    In Los Angeles, a memorial for Confederate soldiers at Hollywood Forever Cemetery was just removed at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group who placed the marker there at the 1920s.

    They're stopping at the memorial? Why not dig up the soldiers themselves and dump the remains in the hills?

  • Rhywun||

  • Brian||

    In a country where roughly half the people consider if a violation of their civil right to democracy if they don't shove their will down the throat of the other half, you will never have "unity", and you don't really get to pretend it's the goal.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Only half?

  • sarcasmic||

    More like two halves that want to shove their will down the other's.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Scott,
    do you think Trump's lamenting the removal of historical monuments is the keystone to his move to unite the country? Or is he just lamenting the removal of historical monuments?

  • EscherEnigma||

    I'm pretty sure he's
    (A) lashing out because he doesn't like being told what to do, and
    (B) pandering to what he thinks his base wants.

    Honestly, the idea that he actually cares about monuments, historical or otherwise, seems pretty unlikely.

  • Zeb||

    If there's a hotel or golf course to be built, he seems pretty happy to tear whatever is in the way down.

  • Memory Hole||

    If we don't build monuments to idolize the confederacy how will ever learn to dislike it? Is that Trump's argument?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Why do you thin he keeps putting his name on buildings?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

  • RG||

    I guess its fairly easy to draw that line, but do you really expect people not to cross it?

  • WakaWaka||

    If federalism can be invoked with regards to illegal immigration, it makes a lot more sense to invoke it here. ENB had the best perspective on this that basically said- "why not just leave it to the community to decide". Besides, this effort doesn't seem to be very popular (even among African Americans). If this was a movement led by African Americans than I think it would garner more sympathy, but instead, like the Democratic Party itself, it is just a rich white liberal crusade.

    Either way- move on

  • Gardenstateed||

    Finally some sanity in the asylum. Demonstrations on the left and right are NOT rooted in the reported "cause". They exist only to make political points! The unfortunate reality is our politicians and media run in to make their positions known before their opponents thereby becoming reactionary little puppy dogs. The disturbing thing about Charlottesville is not the violence that occurred there, gangs always fight, but the 24/7 coverage it's been getting about a non-issue. Both sides went there to incite trouble and they did. Can't feel sorry for them.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, it really doesn't need to be a national issue.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    FAKE MEDIA KEEPS QUOTING THE STUPID SHIT TRUMP SAYS!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You got the fake media part right.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Start tearing down other statues and historical markers like those for MLK, FDR, JFK.

    Two can play at this retarded game.

  • WakaWaka||

    Two of those is not a fair comparison. There is no justification to tear down monuments to JFK or MLK. It's just a terrible comparison rooted in attacking the 'other side', because you feel 'attacked'. This is the nonsense of the era we live in

  • Tony||

    Don't blame the era, blame the moron who said the stupid thing.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You get blamed a lot don't you Tony the moron?

  • SIV||

    IYou could always retaliate here.

  • Qsl||

    JFK and MLK were both known womanizers, and you my dear shitlord want to keep those symbols of patriarchal oppression for what? Why do you hate women?

  • Henry Baker||

    So was the corrupt turd LBJ, whose "great society" bullshit did almost as much to destroy America as did the corrupt scumbag wannabe dictator FDR.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its a war, ammirite?

    Culture war is the term? If the majority of people don't want these statues taken down why were they? The lefties will do whatever it takes to further their agenda.

    If you let them bait you into what they want, you lose. The left wants violence, so they claim victimization nd probably get sympathy. Its already tough to fight for the 1st Amendment rights of lefty neo-Nazis and tougher to fight for 1st Amendment rights of neo-Nazis after people get hurt.

    Take down all statues that the left cherishes as they would not expect that and they would move on to their next stupid scheme.

    Same thing with gay marriage. Just get the government out of marriage all together.

    Shrinking the government power is the surest way to piss the left off and solve many of these problems.

  • paranoid android||

    It is worth noting that Trump is hardly an outlier in not wanting monuments to come down. An NPR poll released this week showed that 62 percent of Americans want these statues to remain "as a historical symbol."

    Just like the polls that said Hillary would win?

    Am I doing this right?

    *Sits back, self-satisfied, inhales own farts*

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Quit bogarting those farts.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I joked on Twitter that cities should sell the Confederate statues to people who care so much about preserving them and redistribute the money back to its citizens.

    Why joke? Sounds like a good idea to me.

  • SIV||

    The cities didn't pay for the monuments and memorials in the first place.

  • Zeb||

    But if they own them now, they can dispose of them as they please. Or are cities obliged to keep every piece of public decoration that is ever donated on display forever?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Who pays for the upkeep on them (cleaning, any maintenance or repairs, etc.)?

  • SIV||

    1920s. Yes, there was some social pressure to remove it, obviously,


    And by "obvious social pressure" Scott Shackford means threats, vandalism and desecration .

    On Tuesday, someone wrote "No" in black marker across the monument's bronze plaque, Cassity said...

    After the marker was vandalized, Cassity said he reached out to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which ultimately made the decision to take it down to prevent further acts of vandalism.
  • Tony||

    Trump knows all about removing art that will be missed and cannot be replaced. When Trump was building his tower in New York City he had destroyed art deco friezes a museum wanted to preserve because it delayed the demolition of a skyscraper that needed to come down.

    Ha! Nice. This guy is so good at hypocrisy and irony he might actually be the god of hypocrisy and irony. And wouldn't it be appropriate for such a being to look not like a cosmic beauty as you'd expect of a god, but a fat lumpy orange mess?

  • Ron||

    was the art deco historical significant to history that took place. no it was just art which is a separate issue and always changing just like many buildings do when their usefulness has run

  • Ken Hagler||

    "It is worth noting that Trump is hardly an outlier in not wanting monuments to come down. An NPR poll released this week showed that 62 percent of Americans want these statues to remain "as a historical symbol." A remarkable nugget from the poll: Even more African Americans (44 percent) want them to remain than want them removed (40 percent). "

    So in other words, Trumps idea of uniting the country is to take a stand held by a sizable majority of the country, including even a majority of the people who are supposed to be most offended by it. The monster!

  • SIV||

    The opinion of Black Americans don't count to white liberals like Shackford. They believe "African-Americans" are simple, child-like beings that don't know what's good for themselves and only serve to advance the progressive agenda.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its why the Democratic Party is done for.

    When the Democratic Party loses auto black votes, they will go the way of the Bull Moose Party.

  • conservativemom||

    Since 'reason's" goal is to unreasonably slander Trump at every turn, I'll sign off for good.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its TDS all the way down.

    Imagine how bad TDS will get when Trump is re-elected.

  • Henry Baker||

    "Any nation that destroys the reminders of its past evils will be condemned to repeat them."
    -Me

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