By Christine Todd Whitman
July 10, 2017
In response to “KKK rally in Virginia leads to rival protests and clashes” on BBC News:
I abhor the KKK and all that it represents. The removal of confederate statues from states across the South, in many ways, however, bolsters their very cause. By denying or hiding our history, we allow the myths to flourish. We are a great nation, but we have had periods of which we should be ashamed: slavery and the internment of the Japanese during WWII to mention just two. We need to remember these periods and what led to them, so we can avoid repeating them.
Those who revere General Lee will always revere him – taking down his statue won’t change that. In fact, it only gives the supporters of the cause of slavery and bigotry a chance to get media coverage. Leaving it in place, however, can provide a lesson about our history and ourselves to those willing to learn. Robert E. Lee was an outstanding general who fought for what he believed. That a part of that belief was upholding the abhorrent institution of slavery cannot, nor should it, be forgotten.
No country on earth has done more, or better, at absorbing people from all different walks of life into a nation. That we still fall far short of where we should be is no secret. We need to acknowledge that – only then can we progress further. Removing historic figures from our sight can make it easier for many to remove them from our consciousness. We need to remember them – both the good and the bad – because, after all, like us, they were just human.