Repealing a bad, high-handed law that requires permission of the N.C. Historical Commission to remove, relocate or alter state-owned monuments doesn’t mean, as some proponents will claim, that all Confederate statues will be torn down or moved to distant locations in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., tragedy.
Yes, the Charlottesville incident has started an overdue dialogue regarding some Confederate monuments (there are three on North Carolina’s Capitol grounds) and whether they are more about the Jim Crow period when many were erected or history. Southern states are having discussions about the monuments and there are movements to have them taken down or relocated. The increased diversity of our society and the refreshing disinterest on the part of younger people in these monuments and the glorification of the Lost Cause have stirred up a good dialogue.
Monuments are entirely appropriate in some locations — the magnificent structures honoring both sides in Gettysburg, for example. But the plethora of monuments in many Southern states, including North Carolina, reflect in some cases a sort of defiance of civil rights in the Jim Crow era. And many are hardly iconic. Rather, they were mass-produced, many in the North.
North Carolina lawmakers need to have this discussion, and they need to have it without the current, ridiculous law that makes the state seem resistant to change and disinterested in the views of minority residents.