I’m sure many readers of this blog are aware of the dispute in Charlottesville over whether to remove equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson from their namesake parks in the downtown area.
As someone who lived in Charlottesville for four years, I liked the statues, and frankly I wish they were not being moved (I think there are other ways to place them in context). But I don’t live in Charlottesville, and I think it’s up to the people who do (and not people who live outside Albemarle County) to decide what should be in their public parks.
Few people have noted, BTW, that the same sculptor who planned the Lee statue, Henry M. Shrady, executed the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC. I happen to think that the Grant statue is a superior piece of work, although his Lee is nice enough.
But I digress … because the Charlottesville City Council has decided that the best way to dispose of the statue is to sell it, with the seller responsible for the costs of removal and relocation.
What an opportunity for the Virginia Flaggers.
This well-known Confederate heritage organization needs to do something new and different. No one really cares about their erratic and token presence outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (even Judy Smith seems tired of taking endless pictures of them parading about, one consequences of the emergence of digital photography). And then there are the flags along the interstates and clustered around several smaller cities. No one cares much about that exercise, either, although the Flaggers suffered a recent setback outside Lexington, when, despite their bluster, a flag came down under pressure from local authorities.
So it’s time for something new, Susan Hathaway. Buy Charlottesville’s Lee (and Jackson, if you can afford it). Make a big fuss. Fly drones over the statues. Have planes pass overhead with banners to remind us of our Confederate “heros.” Do something creative with Tripp Lewis’s defense fund. Buy the statues, have Grayson Jennings rent a trailer, and take those statues to a place where Karen Cooper can appreciate them (if they can first find where Karen Cooper now is). Have Barry Isenhour open a hot dog stand to support the endeavor (make sure he doesn’t eat the product). Give Bobby Lee and Stonewall a new home. Don’t forget Traveller and Little Sorrel.
Restore the honor. Rescue the statues.
Become entertaining again.
Cville City Council retained right to determine to whom to sell, and (per the resolution) won’t simply go with highest bidder. Priority will be given to reputable historical or artistic organizations. They’ll never sell it to a group like VF who’d just place it along Highway 64 under a bunch of Confederate flags.
‘place them in context’ seems a simplistic concept (not that removing them altogether is a complex one).
How is the park name placed in context? how does one place 50 tons of stone and bronze in context with a 5-pound plaque?
what are other examples of parks, statues, buildings, etc. placed in context? There are side stories, but typically only a single definition.
I’ve seen other monuments (such as the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg) where there is signage outside the monument explaining the monument’s history. Same thing at Grant’s Tomb.
Let me put it this way: moving the Lee statue does not erase the history of Lee’s career. That’s a joke. It does alter Charlottesville’s commemorative landscape and allows people to avoid asking why residents of the town decided to celebrate Confederate leaders in the way they did when they did … and whether everyone was happy with the result.
I believe such suggestions look simplistic to some because that’s a way to set aside thinking about how to approach these issues. But this is Charlottesville, whose most famous resident (even if he lived outside of town) said that the earth belonged to the living.
it makes more sense to rename the park than to remove the statue. keep the name and Charlottesville city maps will continue to show ‘Lee Park’. Should they add an asterisk? and don’t even think about google.
just as Benedict Arnold has a monument at Saratoga (and it actually illustrates the turn of his career) – remove the labeling from the Lee statue and rename the park.
The Flaggers could start a theme amusement park around the statues. They could have the JEB Stuart merry-go-round, the Braxton Bragg Chattanooga Choo Choo , The Raphael Semmes boat ride, the PGT Beauregard target shoot, all the targets would look like Fort Sumter, and of course the Joe Johnston roller coaster (it only goes backwards). This would be fun. Smith could even have her own photo booth.
Last I heard, that theme park with fiberglass dinosaurs eating Yankees was out of operation. I believe Brandon Dorsey in Lexington knows the owner/designer, and may be able to get them a good deal.
The Grant memorial is really terrific.