Should statues of Washington, Jefferson, and Grant be removed?

In recent days, statues of Washington, Jefferson, and Grant have been defaced and torn down (Example, Example, , Example)

Is it morally right to get rid of these monuments because they owned slaves?

That is not the reason the confederate statues are getting removed. The c. statues were put in place specifically to glorify those who fought to split the nation over the issue of keeping slaves.

So, no. There’s no reason to remove the Founding Fathers’ statues.

But Washington and Jefferson still kept slaves. Jefferson famously raped his slaves, too. If you’re a black person and you have to walk past a monument to a guy who did that every day to go to school or whatever, mightn’t that make you feel like you didn’t really belong? Wouldn’t you feel safer if the statue were gone? I’m not saying I agree, but that seems to be the argument being advanced.

43 of 56 signers of Declaration of Independence owned slaves, pretty much all the southern men. Most of those guys were not famous so there are probably few or no statues of them.

I don’t see a reason to take down Washington, Jefferson, etc

There’s a difference between doing something bad that was common at the time and being known for doing that bad thing or trying to perpetuate it. The statues of Washington, etc., are because they founded this nation or fought hard to keep it together. They aren’t famous because of their defense of slavery; rather, they’re famous for other things in spite of owning slaves.

So, I don’t think they need to be removed.

The good things they did don’t erase the fact they kept, raped, tortured, and brutalised black human beings their entire lives. Who can blame a black person if that’s the first thing they think of when they see one of their statues? And if we’re OK with them feeling that, aren’t we implicitly sending them the message they don’t belong? The protesters seem to think so. Again, not saying I agree but that’s their argument.

It’s just the logical conclusion of what has started, so no progressives should be against removing the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, etc. This is what you wanted.

No, and I can’t believe this is even being discussed but here we are. I said this would be a thing years ago and was scoffed at.

In a word, no.

I draw the line at the Framers and other historical figures because the statues were put up for different reasons. These weren’t erected to memorialize the cause of slavery and to promote a race-based caste system, the way that many confederate statues were - even hundreds of miles outside the confederacy’s borders.

It’s fair to criticize the fact that the Framers and other American heroes owned slaves or were otherwise racist, and perhaps we could put informational plaques near these displays to educate people in the future.

Why Grant?

The protesters aren’t stupid. They know all that. Their argument is that none of it matters. They kept slaves. The End. And since it’s impossible for black people to be truly equal in a society which memorializes slave holders in any capacity, the statues need to go. That’s their argument as best I understand it.

Again, they aren’t being celebrated for being slave owners, but for founding the country (or protecting it). MLK was a womanizer and had other flaws, but we don’t celebrate his womanizing, we celebrate his vision for a more equal society.

I disagree with those protesters that having been a slave-holder back when it was so common disqualifies someone from being respected and celebrated for other reasons.

Those are big, but the real big ticket item is Mount Rushmore.

Can you flesh this out a little bit? Is it your position that progressives have no room for nuance in their world view? Can you cite some prominent progressives that want the Lincoln Memorial removed?

No there is no room for nuance, only “wokeness”,

This assumes founding the country is a positive to them.

This is a leaderless movement. Prominent progressives are completely irrelevant.

The protester’s argument is a bit more nuanced than that. They’re making two claims:

  1. They’re saying that Washington, Jefferson etc… don’t deserve to be memorialised because they kept slaves, and that outweighs any good they might have done.

  2. They’re saying the statues are an insult to black people in the present day. A black person living in a white supremacist society is right to think of them as slavers first and Founders second, because black people are still living with the consequences of slavery. Therefore, keeping the statues up is a big middle-finger to black people. It makes them feel alienated from, and unsafe within, their own country. That harm outweighs any good which could possibly come from having the statues up in the first place, so the statues have to go. Otherwise, the message is that the statues are more important than black lives, which they aren’t.

Please provide a cite for this claim. As a counter-cite, I submit asahi post – (s)he’s a pretty progressive poster here who disagrees with you.

ETA: In response to this by pool:

No there is no room for nuance, only “wokeness”,

OK, I disagree with those claims for the reasons I mentioned. What do you think about the counterarguments here?