Rod Dreher, over at The American Conservative (article here):
Right now, the City of New Orleans, which has been removing statues of Confederate generals, will is taking down the last one: a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that has stood over Lee Circle, near the French Quarter, since 1884.
As a general rule, I am against taking down monuments. To me, it’s about erasing history, and that is not something we should do, even if the history is painful. I believe we should look upon our monuments, and contemplate their meaning. Why did people once revere this man, or this event? Why was this monument built? Were the people wrong to build it? What does it say about our collective history? How have we changed? Who are we, anyway?
Taking down the monuments in New Orleans will help erase cultural memory of the Confederacy. But it will not change history. For better or worse.
But I do not have a lot of emotion about these particular monuments. The city of New Orleans began by removing a monument to a white supremacist rebellion, and that was an unambiguously good thing, in my estimation. Then they took down a statue of Jefferson Davis, and one of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. I would not have done that. Davis and Beauregard fought for the wrong cause, but that doesn’t make them non-persons. Still, I can live with their exile from public view.
The removal of the Lee statue, though, strikes me as a serious and unnecessary wound. I think it a blessing that the Confederacy lost the war. Lee fought for a bad cause. But Lee, for all his sins, was a complex figure, one worthy of honor — again, despite his sins. Very few men we honor with statuary are saints. I would have left the Lee statue alone, had it been up to me. He is a tragic figure who represents an unforgettable part of American history. For over 100 years, the statue of Lee, and his name, have been part of the city’s fabric. Until today. This is all on Mayor Mitch Landrieu.