Readers React: If William McKinley’s statue gets removed, which president with a complicated legacy is next?

To the editor: With all the ado about removing statues of past figures, including presidents, I am reminded of Mark Antony’s oration: “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” (“When the fight to remove statues becomes a struggle against history,” editorial, April 13)

The fight over President William McKinley’s statue in Arcata, Calif. — which some activists want removed because of his administration’s policies on Native American tribes — shows there is simply too much dwelling on the mistakes of our ancestors and not enough on their accomplishments. It is as important to remember and honor McKinley’s accomplishments as it is to recall his mistakes and weaknesses.

I have one comment for those who would tear down the statue: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.


Christopher Blake, San Diego


To the editor: The Times Editorial Board lists among McKinley’s accomplishments the fact that he “led the nation into the Spanish-American War, and its first full steps onto the international stage and into modern imperialism with the takeover of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.”

Surely these actions belong in the negative traits column. Evaluating the entire historical record of a person is important, as you argue, but what is more critical is a correct and honest view of that history.

The editorial inadvertently supports the removal of the McKinley statue.

Christopher T. Armen, Calabasas

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