Especially since the events in Charlottesville, the monuments have become a flashpoint for discussing American race relations and social sensitivities. Last Friday, the N.C. Historical Commission met to discuss a request by Gov. Roy Cooper to remove Confederate monuments from the N.C. Capitol grounds to the state-owned Bentonville Battlefield site in Johnson County. The commission quickly voted to postpone the decision until April to give it time to discuss the legality of such a move.
Aucoin said there could be an argument for keeping some of the monuments that are dedicated to the masses of soldiers who left their homes to join the fight for many reasons: a response to peer pressure, a sense of defending their homeland, an economic necessity. But even those probably should not be on the grounds of government institutions, like the one that stood outside the old Durham County Courthouse before it was toppled by protesters, he said.
"Calling those soldiers 'Our Boys,' " as some of the monuments do, he said, "is problematic. It's not unifying at all."
While the statues, many of which were mass produced and sold by traveling salesmen, may have marginal artistic value, Aucoin said, they are not relics of the Civil War itself and, unless fully and fairly explained in a museum setting, they are not educational.
"I just don't see any great loss coming from these statues being destroyed."
(c)2017 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.