A recent Middle Georgia State University panel on the appropriateness of Confederate monuments featured zero professors who were willing to defend such statues.
The panel, called “Monument Forum: Artifacts, History, Heritage,” included three professors from various universities across the country, though not one held the position that the monuments should remain erected.
In fact, The Telegraph reports that one person in attendance, Johnny Nickles, told the speakers that he was “a little disappointed” with the event because “all three of [them] have the same opinions.”
“I don’t believe slavery was the reason for the war,” he continued to laughs from audience, instead suggesting that the motivating force was about states’ rights. “I am totally in favor the monuments. We have a monument of Rosa Parks now; a statute of Otis Redding.”
In response, however, Fort Valley State University professor Mark Smith objected that “historical scholarship is pretty much in agreement” on the issue, with one audience member claiming that she had never even heard of people debating the issue until she “came down south.”
Nickles’ objections were in response to the one-sided nature of the preceding panel, with The Telegraph noting that Smith began the discussion by asserting that he disagrees with having such monuments in public spaces because the Civil War was primarily about slavery and white supremacy.”
“So, really, any public monument to soldiers and leaders of the military of the Confederacy is a monument to these things,” he claimed. “Given what they symbolize, I don’t think they’re appropriate for these spaces.”
The Telegraph adds that the two remaining professors on the panel were in complete agreement, suggesting that the monuments should either be moved to a museum or have opposing monuments placed “right alongside them.”
“Either solution I think would make our public spaces more inclusive, and it seems to me like that’s what we should be doing,” Smith suggested, as, according to WGXA, Middle Georgia State University Professor Niels Eichhorn agreed.
“These monuments were not put up as a moment for reunion,” Eichhorn said. “It’s a monument to show, ‘No we didn’t learn from the war. We didn’t want to embrace racial equality.'”
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