Should a confederate statue of General Robert E. Lee be removed, or left standing? Should one consider opening a debate on the Confederate icons that are to be found over vast territories across the south, to open ‘civil’ debates on the history and evolution of iconoclasm, as well as alternative possibilities, or counter-responses, like covering or masking controversial monuments, or inventing new forms of responses set within the same public spaces… to directly engage instead of render invisible these long running political feuds.
“The Statue at the Center of Charlottesville’s Storm”
New York Times.
Since white nationalists marched Friday in Charlottesville, Va., the quiet college town has seen a nighttime brawl lit up by torches and smartphones, and worse violence that left one person dead and dozens injured.
At the center of the chaos is a statue memorializing Robert E. Lee. It depicts the Confederacy’s top general, larger than life, astride a horse, both green with oxidation.
The white nationalists were in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove that statue, and counterdemonstrators were there to oppose them. The statue — begun by Henry Merwin Shrady, a New York sculptor, and finished after his death by an Italian, Leo Lentelli — had stood in the city since 1924. But over the past couple of years some residents and city officials, along with organizations like the N.A.A.C.P., had called for it to come down.
One local official made a similar suggestion as early as 2012 and quickly discovered that emotions surrounding the issue run deep.
‘Ugly stuff bubbled up’
It was during the Virginia Festival of the Book, a series of readings and events held every year in Albemarle County, which includes Charlottesville.