House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is racing to remove a statue of Confederal General Robert E. Lee from the National Statuary Hall Collection before the Commonwealth of Virginia has a chance to do so of its own accord, The Washington Times reported.
Each state is allotted two spaces for statues to be placed in the Capitol, and the Virginia commission responsible for deciding which statues represent the Commonwealth in D.C. said it would take until some time in 2021 for members to meet and decide on a replacement for the Lee statue.
That timeline wasn’t fast enough for Pelosi, however, as she ordered the chair of the House Administration Committee to have the Architect of the Capitol remove 10 statues related to the Confederacy — including Lee’s — in an attempt to take action even sooner, according to the Times.
Men of “violent bigotry”
Pelosi called the subjects of the statues she tagged for removal men of “violent bigotry” stemming from their involvement with the Confederacy.
“The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation,” she wrote, as the Times reported. “Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals.”
The Lee statue has been a subject of controversy since 1903 when it was first commissioned for display in the nation’s capital.
Prominent influencers of the time argued that there were many other Virginians more deserving than Lee of the honor, such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Patrick Henry, according to the Times.
Most of the opposition to the statue at the time centered not around race, but around Lee’s role as an enemy general who fought against the United States.
A temporary injunction has been filed against Virginia regarding the removal of another statue of Lee in the capital city of Richmond after a signatory on the deed to the land where it sits sued Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and the Department of General Services to prevent its removal, as Politico reported.
Conservatives have argued against the removal of Lee statues in the past, arguing that such efforts are a dangerous attempt to rewrite history. But in one thing, Pelosi may be right: a statue generally indicates that its subject is held in high honor.
Lee is indeed an icon of the South, but it’s plain to see that what he stood for — both the continuation of slavery and the fracturing of the United States — are things that viewed by virtually no one as admirable propositions.
The profound and instructive history of the Civil War in the United States is quite unlikely to hinge on whether a few statues remain standing or not, and as such, perhaps the time for removal has come.