Recent articles, columns and letters about removing public monuments suggest that monuments have educational value. While a good teacher can provide sound historical context for them, monuments are not built to educate.
Monuments are not history; they are propaganda. Propaganda is a message to support a cause. The message may be true or false, the cause just or misguided. Monuments have been propagated for reasons ranging from noble to inane.
Mount Rushmore is an impressive way to honor four presidents, but what does it teach us about them? Gettysburg has many monuments, but without knowledge of the narrative and actors of that battle, it cannot be understood by touring the monuments. The more dramatic monuments there have been erected by Southern states, most notably by South Carolina. These monuments do not pretend to explain why the South lost the battle. They’re meant to ennoble the Southern cause. They are propaganda.
Propaganda reflects its creators, their motives and their times, which change. Americans are obligated to learn and to preserve history. They have no such obligation to propaganda.
Regarding the June 2 news article “Trump: U.S. to exit climate accord”: In announcing that he is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, President Donald Trump said he wanted the rest of the world to stop laughing at the U.S. The best way for him to accomplish that is to resign.
Wake taxes ‘bargain’
In “Critics push back against Wake plan to raise property taxes again” (June 3), Charles Hellwig, chairman of the Wake County Republican Party, recently expressed his lack of support for raising Wake’s property tax rate by 1.45 cents: “The answer is not … to raise taxes,” he said. “If we keep doing that, we’ll simply become the places these newcomers have fled.”
While I disagree with his conclusion, I think he’s right about the reason people want to move here: Wake County is an incredible bargain. It has great public schools, and, compared with the Northeast and much of the rest of the country, very low taxes. I understand why new residents who escaped sky-high property taxes would want to hold on to the incredible bargain they’ve found here.
But Wake County has a long way to go before ever becoming one of “the places these newcomers have fled.” Moreover, with a large amount of new residents moving to Wake County daily, resisting a tax increase is irresponsible. Out of whose hide will the cost of maintaining this incredible bargain be extracted? Underpaid teachers and principals? Residents of good conscience know they all must pay a fair share.