Letters to the Editor: Build monuments to the founders’ ideas, not the slave-holding men who had them
To the editor: I agree with columnist Doyle McManus that monuments proclaim the beliefs of the people who erected them.
Monuments in public spaces that run counter to current beliefs should be removed from public view and preserved instead in museums. They must be presented within their historical context so that the viewers can learn from the mistakes of the past.
Monuments to flawed leaders should be restructured to promote their beliefs or accomplishments. For example, the Jefferson Memorial in Washington should remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, and instead commemorate the Declaration of Independence. That change would send the proper message to the world about American aspirations.
Mark Rhomberg, Pacific Palisades
To the editor: I am originally from Pennsylvania, and my older sister graduated from Gettysburg College. My family and I visited the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Antietam and Manassas. I was young then and saw only information about the battles, strategies and death tolls.
Robert E. Lee was like a rebel hero figure — it made an impression, but there was not a conscience to it. Recently I’ve been reexamining those experiences, and McManus’ column helped me distinguish between acknowledging history and honoring the white supremacist traitors of the Civil War.
My wife and I have visited Germany often over the last 25 years, and we have never seen a statue or monument that honors Adolf Hitler. We have traveled in Italy extensively, and I cannot recall having seen a monument to Benito Mussolini.
Battlefield monuments like those in Gettysburg honor history and the people who fought and died there. City monuments like those in Richmond, Va., are not on battlefields and serve only to remind us of a culture of white supremacism. That’s not a history to be honored.
Ron Roup, San Clemente
To the editor: “Statues of Christopher Columbus pose a tougher question,” McManus writes. “Are we honoring him for his intrepid navigating or because he opened the Americas to European colonization?”
This ignores the fact that Columbus and his men raped, killed, maimed and enslaved Indigenous peoples in their quest to obtain gold and resources. There is no honor for Columbus.
As an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and also someone of Choctaw descent, I would like to see everyone learn the true history of this explorer. And while we are talking, decolonize your newsroom, Los Angeles Times.
Allison Hicks, Whittier
To the editor: Trump threatens severe penalties on those who would topple and deface the monuments and statues of traitorous Confederate generals. But during his tenure, he has overseen the shrinking and desecration of national monuments that protect our natural heritage.
In Utah, the size of Bears Ears National Monument has been cut by 85%, and Grand Staircase-Escalante was eviscerated by half, allowing the extraction industries to move in. Trump is attempting to open the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to commercial fishing, defeating the purpose of the sanctuary.
The administration is bulldozing through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, destroying Tohono O’odham sacred sites and threatening endangered species.
Apparently, stone and bronze pigeon perches are more important to Trump than to our cultural and natural wealth.
Tony Baker, Rancho Palos Verdes
A cure for the common opinion
Get thought-provoking perspectives with our weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.