Nashville Confederate statue vandalism bound to stir controversyPosted by Robert Leonard / June 28, 2019
Last week, a Confederate monument in Nashville, Tennessee was vandalized. The statue’s plinth, which has the name of over 500 Confederate veterans, had the words “They were racist” painted over it in red paint. The statue itself was also splashed with red paint. This is one of many monuments that have been vandalized in Tennessee, part of a wider trend in calling for the removal of Confederate monuments around the nation.
The call for Confederate monuments’ removal began in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killing. More specifically, Americans began protesting the monuments after George Zimmerman, Martin’s killer, was acquitted for Martin’s murder. That verdict highlighted what many perceive as institutional racial bias in the United States, concretized by Confederate monuments.
Many southerners, by contrast, believe that the statues are merely monuments to southerners who died to defend their states’ rights. As such, they have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with regional heritage. The phrase “heritage not hate” emerged as a counter-protest to defend the statues.
The “They were racist” graffiti highlights the difficulty of this debate, since it boils down basically to: You’re racist! vs. No I’m not! There is no way southerners will ever agree that they’re racist, so the call to remove the statues because “they’re racist” is a nonstater.