Politics

The Fight for the Fate of Richmond’s Confederate Monuments Begins

'Advocates of removal are really advocating censorship'

First they came for New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. Then they came for the “Johnny Reb” memorial to Confederate soldiers in Orlando, Florida. The Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, is slated for removal pending a court decision. Now, the forces of political correctness have their sights on the five Confederate monuments that line Richmond, Virginia’s famed Monument Avenue.

The city’s Monument Avenue Commission, established by Mayor Levar Stoney to examine the controversy surrounding the monuments in Richmond, began its deliberations on Monday as the commission’s first subcommittee — the State of Confederate Memorials Group, which is tasked with reviewing how other localities are handling their Confederate monuments, met to examine the issue.

The commission’s three other subcommittees are the Historians Review Group, the New Monuments and Interpretation Group — tasked with answering the question “if monuments are added, where can they best be erected and interpreted?” — and the Community Engagement Group. These other subcommittees will all have met by Thursday evening, at which time will be held the first of two public hearings on the monuments.

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While the commission is an attempt to examine all sides of the monuments controversy, critics say that the fact the monuments are controversial at all is a symptom of left-wing political correctness run amok.

“Contemporary Americans have a tendency to ‘forget who we are’ and engage in what has become known as political correctness,” said Dr. Lee Cheek, dean of East Georgia State College and a senior fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute, to LifeZette. “The advocates of political correctness want to corrupt history for temporary political gains more than they desire to keep or restore it, and their efforts are, sadly, a disease on the body politic.”

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One such advocate is a local radical left-wing group The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, which is transparently calling for the commission to manipulate the odds in favor of removal. Not only does the group wish the commission to declare publicly that it is considering the option of removing them, but it also wants to stack the commission with proponents of removal.

The area NBC affiliate, WWBT, reported: “The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality are calling on the commission to … invite Richmonders who have already called for the statues to be removed to be on the commission.”

“Put these statues in a museum. Not on public land maintained by my tax dollars for a statue that represents something that I hate with every fiber of my being,” Phil Wilayto of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality told WWBT. “As long as this statue is up, we are telling the rest of the world that Richmond thinks Robert E. Lee was a pretty cool fellow and the cause he fought for was noble.”

“Mr. Wilayton and others want to destroy an historical consciousness that is necessary for our republic to persevere,” said Cheek. “As former Secretary of State Rice argued recently, to ‘sanitize’ history is to do a disservice to the living and the dead. To so freely and cavalierly dismiss Robert E. Lee, for example, who was a truly great figure in American life, is [to] basically suggest the only important people are those in political favor at present.”

Unfortunately, if the now fallen monuments in New Orleans and elsewhere are any indication — not to mention the countless other examples of political correctness gone mad — Wilayton and his allies may be successful in their anti-Confederate crusade. “The operatives of political correctness in New Orleans and Richmond and in other locales have met with some success of late,” he observed.

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“With Orwellian irony, they succeeded in having a U.S Navy ship named for a person who hated the Navy (Cesar Chavez) and have imposed ‘speech codes’ (with the actual purpose of restricting speech) on many college campuses — as well as more destructive examples of assaulting First Amendment rights and redefining history,” Cheek continued.

Ultimately, according to Cheek, an assault upon First Amendment rights is fundamentally at the heart of the Left’s assault upon Confederate monuments. “The greatest threat to Mr. Wilayton and his fellow zealots is an environment in which free and uninhibited discussion and disagreement can take place,” he said.

“In fact,” Cheek said, “diversity of thought is the opposite of political correctness, and is at the heart of a free society. The advocates of removal are really advocating censorship against free and diverse discussion.”

(photo credit, homepage image: Billy Hathorn; photo credit, article image: Ron Cogswell)

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