The destruction of history is not a new concept. Countless irreplaceable historic items have been lost to the intricate and often violent past that has shaped the world we have today.
In America, a spotlight has been thrown at statues, specifically from the Civil War era. Statues have long served as honorary tokens, erected in homage to those who, at the time they were made, were seen as important and memorable.
Those who look upon them now, however, see them in a different light. The Civil War was a large part of the United States’ relatively short history, and remnants of the devastation it caused are still scattered across the nation today. Amounts of that has been dusted off, documented and retained, but much of the architecture and decorations of the time still stand.
History is meant to be remembered, and the destruction of history erases cultural heritage. The past is a necessary learning tool, especially when it comes to things that are unpleasant to fully understand, because those are the mistakes that should not be repeated.
There is a fine balance between remembering history and encouraging the choices of the past. Groups that choose to cling to the past should not be given a shrine to seemingly aid their impact.
It may be their right to voice their opinions and have their own mindset, but it is not their right to dehumanize and endanger the lives of others. Symbols from the Nazi era have no place in modern America, and neither do people who stand behind them. If statues give them power, then perhaps it is in the right mind of the public to urge for those to be moved out of public spaces.
This does not mean that the defamation of artifacts is acceptable. By destroying historical monuments, the educational meaning becomes lost, and the chance to educate future generations goes along with it. By placing artifacts in a safe space, like a museum, they can lose the power of bias. Museums are known for being educational and would present a proper history of the item on display or simply care for it in collection spaces.
However, it is currently illegal to remove a large number of Confederate era monuments. Alabama has current legislation against the removal of monuments over 40 years old, and was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey in May of this year, as reported by the Hill. Other Southern states including Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia have similar laws against the elimination of historic monuments.
The University of Texas-Austin chose to remove three Confederate statues 10 days before the start of the semester, as reported by the Texas Tribune. The statues were relocated to the Briscoe Center for American History. Other universities and private establishments have made similar decisions across the nation.
Baylor itself does not publicly host any Confederate statues, but was established well before the Civil War began, meaning that the implications of the war are a part of our history as a university. The rejection of history will do little good for generations to come. Instead, we should educate with artifacts and set standards for the future.