In the ongoing protests against public display of confederate symbols on government property [see story here], some individuals have targeted confederate monuments for vandalism.
The anger is understandable, and the message, even when misspelled [“Mater?” Come on, man. Learn your own language], resonates. But vandalism is not the solution. As a society, we can’t condone this behavior. I fully support the protesters’ right to express their opinions, but that right does not include the right to deface what is not one’s own property.
If any protesters happen to be reading this, I suggest putting your message on signs and putting the signs in front of the monument, not damaging the monument. If you damage it, it will be repaired at taxpayer expense, leaving less money available to spend on education or other worthy causes. If it happens to be on a college campus, it’s repaired at the cost of the school not being able to do something else that is related to educating its students. Better yet, carry the signs yourself as you stand or walk in front of the monument. Vandalizing the monument in the dark is just cowardly, ignorant, and thoughtless.
I get it. I sympathize with the message. I’m also uncomfortable with honoring treason and fighting for slavery on government property, but there is a right way to protest and a wrong way to protest, and some folks have chosen the wrong way. I personally think monuments create a great teaching opportunity and should be used for that instead of being damaged and defaced. The ultimate fate of confederate monuments should be left to the political process, not to a vandal with a spray can or other device. I hope they’re used for education, not only about the war but also about the people who built and placed the monuments.
Start the conversation. Persuade with your words. Take the opportunity to teach and to learn for yourself.