The New Monuments That America Needs

A boy plays basketball near the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond.

Hua Su’s recent article for The New Yorker surveys the controversy surrounding public memorial statuary in the USA:

That a monument seems to, in Farber’s words, “stop time,” helps explain why so many are eager to defend them from overzealous protesters. We’ve seen pictures of police flanking the Wall Street bull and armed civilians standing guard in front of Confederate monuments and a statue of a sixteenth-century Spanish colonist. A group of British men even organized to protect a statue of the writer George Eliot, and, presumably, it wasn’t because they were devotees of “Daniel Deronda.” What they’re defending, though, isn’t just a specific figure or cause from the past. They’re also defending an idea about history—who makes it, who gets to shape its narrative arc, and whether a nation’s story is finished or a work in progress.

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