Who’s complacent? — not Baltimore

This city removed several Confederate monuments before dawn Wednesday in a stealth operation that highlights the growing backlash against such memorials across the country.

“I said I would move as quickly as I could, and I did,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, said in an interview. “We didn’t need those kinds of symbols.”

Bravo, and let’s hope Old Town Alexandria — wihch frankly I have never liked — does the same with its prominent Lee statue.  But, posturing aside, the real import of this story has not yet been digested.  This statue removal was done suddenly, without democratic input for the final decision to proceed, and, as far as I can tell, without much in the way of leaks.  The mayor just did it.  Physically.  Overnight.  The importance of physical space, and how we shape and present it, must have been paramount in her mind.

That is what the end of complacency looks like.  It may just be a blip, but keep the nature of this episode in mind as you track subsequent news developments in this and other areas.

Here is the WSJ article.


The Khmer Rouge was also not complacent.

Yes, 221 homicides in Baltimore this year, and this is what Tyler notices. Complacency indeed.

Very non-complacent:


More importantly, 221 homicides in Baltimore this year, and this is what the mayor notices.

The decision to suspend all homicide investigations until the statues can be removed was a baffling one.


Tyler has to talk his book. I'm sure all the murdered will rest peacefully knowing that the statues are down.

LOL yeah Rich Berger and Tom T. have always been very concerned with the murder rate in Baltimore.

That's weak, even for you.

Yours is weaker, as expected.

At least Baltimore will not be in the news because of a gang of Nazis and anarchists are rioting there.


Tyler is in academia and thus he knows what lynch mobs look like and how irredeemably fascist they are. He's keeping his head low while twerking his support for the pigs in Animal Farm. What else can he do? What else would you do?

That is what the end of complacency looks like.

Seems more like political symbolism if you ask me, which is fine, so far as it goes, but is the absence of statues going to spur advances in regenerative medicine or something? Give me a break.

Sometimes political symbolism is useful.

That was not the question, though, was it?

Sometimes, the comments here are better and wittier than the articles. This is definitely one of those! Rofl!

Wow, it's so cool to see leaders acting decisively, without any kind of public input, formal process or democracy. That's definitely what we need more of. It'll be so great when every mayor and governor across the country acts just like this.

The city council was elected by every part of the city, and the Mayor was elected by the people of the city. All of the city's elected legislative and executive branch were in unanimous agreement and acted, as elected representatives of the people. Do we not have a representative democracy, and is that not it in action?

This is more correct than you may realize. Baltimore was a majority-white city; it is now majority-black. Consequently, the statues must go.

Different peoples have different histories, different heroes, different values, different cultures. Change the people, change the place. Baltimore is indeed a quite different place than when Johns-Hopkins was built.

It was majority black 35 years ago, and has had black mayors since 1986.

Does not refute the conclusion in the slightest.

You're bound and determined here. Other people are going to notice there must be some other vector at work.

Actually, the mode by which the Baltimore City council is elected is contrived to reduce the range of views on the council.

They can made whatever decision they want. What's dismaying is that they devote their time to this sort of vandalism but cannot begin to address the city's problems, which have nothing to do with historic monuments and everything to do with crime and school disorder. Just last year the electorate did something they haven't done since 1955: elect a mayor who was not a lawyer or a school district employee. If you thought having a business consultant in the mayor's chair meant less inanity, think again. The mayor's new initiative contra street crime is...more spending on community colleges.

There was no vandalism. The statues have been moved (to temporary storage) not destroyed.

I guess you were out sick the day your middle school english teacher had the lecture on 'simile', 'metaphor', and 'personification'.

There is zero evidence in your post that you were being anything but literal

Yeah, I know. It's not like those times when they held polls to vote on erecting each and every statue.

The city council had voted, unanimously, to remove the statues. Just as had the Charlottesville council.
'Without any formal process or democracy' seems like you projecting.

Governments often put hideously ugly public art up without getting any input from the public (or deliberately ignoring input they receive from the public). Taking down a bunch of statues of historical figures without public input is pretty much par for the course as far as public art is concerned. The process has always had only a tenuous connection to popular sentiment, and has always been subject to idiotic whims and fads like this one. The public officials who put the statues up in the first place probably put them up for the exact same silly reasons -- pander for a few more votes, and distract the public from public problems. The usual business of local government.

dot on. +1

I hate to disappoint you, but the reason he could move quickly is because a Special Commission to Review Baltimore's Public Confederate Monuments has been in existence since 2015 and has already prepared all the footwork:

It is my intention to move forward with the removal of Baltimore City’s confederate statues. I have read the recommendations of the task force set up by the previous administration which were reported in January 2016 and provided to the public in writing in August of 2016.

The 34 page report gave recommendations for moving forward including legal and procedural requirements. The report provided the history of the monuments and why two of the monuments should be removed and not destroyed; The Lee Jackson Monument on the Westside of Wyman Park Drive, Art Museum Drive at Howard Street and the Roger Brook Taney Monument in Mount Vernon Place in the North Square directly North of the Washington Monument.

The report concluded that a “deliberate and transparent process should be put into place. The Commission further suggests that a small working group of city officials headed by the Mayor’s Office be charged with the task. This group should have the following members: Staff of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and the Department of General services’ Historic Properties Program Coordinator.

Various tasks that need to be completed include identifying legal requirements for deaccession, negotiating and executing agreements with potential recipients, procuring funding, and receiving approval from the Maryland Historical Trust Easement Committee for moving the Lee Jackson Monument.

It is my understanding that to-date none of the recommendations to remove the monuments have not been implemented. The re-contextualization of the other two monuments has been completed.

I have met with Mayor Landrieu of New Orleans to understand the process he used in removing the monuments and the cost related to their removal. In New Orleans the cost of removing four monuments totaled $2.1 million dollars. The cost attributed to actual removal of the four statues was $1.065 million, which does not include police and security overtime, and storage cost.
I have taken steps to appoint a working group to lead the process for removing the confederate monuments. I am adding two members from the private sector to help us with the fundraising. Anyone wishing to contribute can forward their contribution to the Baltimore City Foundation/Confederate Monument Removal.
In writing requesting approval from the Maryland Historical Trust Easement Committee to remove the Lee Jackson Monument.
Requested that local construction firms examine the process for removal of the monuments and provide the city with a proposal for removal.
We have identified cemeteries where confederate soldiers have been buried. Among the identified cemeteries are the Washington Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland and the Point Lookout Confederate Commentary in Scotland, Maryland. We will inquire as to their willingness to accept the monuments and prepare agreements for the transfer.
Identify storage space for the monuments after removal.
After receiving reports from the task force and the contractors, we will provide a public time line for removal of the monuments.

of course there is a surprising degree of initiative in deciding to initiate the process earlier, but much of the preparation has already been done - through committees and public consultations.


David is right.

People in Baltimore were thinking about removing the monuments since September 2015. This part of the report is great:

"During the Civil War, approximately 65,000 Marylanders fought for the Union, and close to 22,000 fought for the Confederacy. Nearly half of all Maryland units for the Union
formed in Baltimore, and the total number of Union units outnumbered the Confederate Units from Maryland approximately three to one. Nevertheless, Baltimore has three public
monuments to the Confederacy and only one to the Union. The question is often posed: if Maryland, particularly Baltimore, produced three times more Union soldiers and regiments
than Confederate soldiers and regiments, why does Baltimore have only one monument to the Union and three monuments to the Confederacy?"


From the link, it looks like the Commission voted to remove two of the Confederate Monuments (Taney & Jackson's), but not the other two (Confederate Women's, and Confederate Soldiers and Sailers). Is it accurate to say this is part of some normal process?

"Confederate Monuments (Taney "

Taney was not a Confederate.

The Commission found that people think Taney was essentially a Confederate. Perhaps its best going forward to talk about "Confederate" monuments.

He was pre-confederate.

Affirmative action for statues.

When a politician sets up a commission about a subject, it is to bury the subject not to act.

No. There are multiple uses to commissions. In cases like these, it is to provide a kind of official and formal legitimacy and cover story for actions for which there has already been an informal, unofficial decision. The speech the politician gives about the findings of the commission would be the same had the commission never existed.

So, what does this mean for Cowen's "end of complacency" comment?

Thanks for this, I have fixed the wording.

The political class in Baltimore has spent nearly two generations allowing that very handsome city to decay into a crime-ridden hell hole (which has included Marilyn Mosby's unconscionable abuse of Cesar Goodson and five others) but this they know: there must be no commemoration of Confederate veterans. Priorities.

This is such a silly argument. Removing a statue is easy, combatting rife violent crime is not.

They've had decades to 'combat violent crime'. The latest installment in their efforts is the mayor's plan for more spending on community colleges.

Leaving the statues in place is even easier, but not an option they're electing to take.

So what? The mayor can only do one thing at a time? Is that your point?

The mayor's not multi-tasking, either.

Who cares about the burial places of secessionist slave owners anyway? Pave those cemeteries and make them into useful parking lots or sites for neat retailers like Urban Outfitters or Ralph Lauren. The actual locations of the remains of each individual could be recorded electronically and small brass markers identifying them spotted in the floor of Victoria's Secret, Best Buy and Foot Locker.

Baltimore's govt does not have a great track record for doing the right thing quickly. These are public monuments, and like tax money govts need to keep public welfare in mind...did I actually type that? ha ha ha

Yeah, I'll say. This is also what the end of democracy looks like, with "strong leaders" taking "decisive action" while fatuous university professors cheer the exclusion of hoi polloi from the process.

Just like North Korea.

Do we know for certain that it wasn't within her authority as mayor to have the statues removed without holding a public referendum, or some sort of city council vote?

If it is, then this is a big nothingburger with respect to "democracy". She already had the authority. All she did is use it.

well, this is typical government enforcement of political-correctness ... which is a subset of Cultural Marxism. Left-Progressives (that includes most Democrats & academics) find it quite appealing as a means to transform society to their liking.

Her mind!

Is this a new form of Civil War reenactment? Seems just as silly. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see the reactions when some mayor with a different political persuasion decides to remove a statue of, say, MLK without asking anyone's permission. What could possibly go wrong?

You might begin by removing Martin-Luther-King-the-Merciless from the Mall (or, if you'd prefer a humorous desecration, add supplementary sculptures of the three women with whom he spent his last night on Earth).

What could go wrong? Reasonable human beings would vote him or her out of office.

I have a sneaking suspicion that most people arguing here for limited government action just like confederate statues. Of course the mayor doesn't hold a poll for every action she takes.

And I doubt especially that she would hold a poll for something seemingly so trivial.

Is this what the modern right cares about? What statues we have and where people piss?

Guy, in case you hadn't noticed, the people who made this a public issue and insist on removing the statues are liberals posturing as is their wont and black nationalists pissing on trees. They brought it up, not 'the modern right'. Somehow, in the space between you're ears, moral reasoning is such that they get to 'care', but none of the rest of us get to care in response.

When you're done playing shizzy little rhetorical games, you might consider just why this project is so abrasive to some of us, if you're at all capable of doing that.

First things first: how does one assess a whole person? How does one assess an era? How does one assess the human condition? Why might someone think that today's political hacks and youths with magenta-dyed hair aren't the most credible moral preceptors?

"black nationalists" -- is this a new Hannity talking point like "alt left?"

White nationalists erected the statues.

I have a sneaking suspicion that most people arguing here for limited government action just like confederate statues.

Gosh. No kidding.

It would help to explain why you think statue removals are abrasive. Eastern Europe removed a great many Lenin/Stalin statues but I don't recall anyone being worried if this would hurt the feelings of some wistful communist.

And is hair color a good indicator of moral character? You sound like a 30-something belittling the blasted millennials who are in fact living lives very similar to the self righteous yuppies. Ageism is always in style.

Is this a joke?

The mayor of Baltimore is a she.


But she does, regardless of how many caps you use in a comment.

How do you know? Do you have a link to the mayor's preferred pronouns?

One assumes her official biography would be definitive enough - https://mayor.baltimorecity.gov/biography

Does anyone value peace and social harmony any more? We hobbits need to stop taking the bait. Stop trying to provoke a reaction. Stop reacting to this provocation.

This reminds me of the sixties when you had weaponized black militants engaged in low level intermittent combat with urban catholic ethnics. Who won? The non-combatants on the sidelines playing let's you and him fight. Stop letting the matador bait you into attackjng the cape.

This is the Age of the Orc, not filthy little hobitses.

"This statue removal was done suddenly, without commissions or studies by panels, without democratic input, and, as far as I can tell, without much in the way of leaks. The mayor just did it. Physically. Overnight."
He must be very strong.

However, it must be pointed out that, amidst the complacency of Brezhnev's stagnation, the Soviet regime moved fast to demolish Ipatiev's house (Yeltsin took the task) before it could become a magnet for monarchists. I think the work was done overnight, too. At the same time, Brezhnev refused to talk about the economical problems that plagued the country. It shows us it is more about priorities than about non-complacency per si.

Yet again, an amazing depth of knowledge of the Soviet Union/Russia, for a poster claiming to be from Brazil.

Those are widely known facts. When Yeltsin started to rise as a populist challenger to Gorbachev's power, famous Brazilian magazine Veja published an article about his political carreer and pointed out he had the task of crushing the monarchist past of Sverdlovsk. And although he was Sverdlovsk's political boss, Yeltsin, according to famous dissident historian Roy Medvedev, did know understand very well who was the Bolshevik leader (Yakov Sverdlov) the city was named after. Sverdlov ordered the execution of the czar and his family (the servants and the dogs but one were killed, too).

That's funny.

Whoa Tyler, you're going to trigger all the alt-right-racists-pretending-to-be-libertarian readers. I think that's about a third of your audience. Or at least a third of your commenters.

One of the biggest problems with Libertarianism is that the broad "audience" for pure ignorance tend to confuse libertarians with conservatives...

NPR this morning: "antifa is a good thing". Yes, we really need a communist revolution.

This. The trouble is it can be difficult to tell if you don't see the same usernames using their considerable rhetorical skills to defend whatever issue "the left" opposes.

Not a bad strategy. Back when weathermen were no better than 50% right predicting rain, there was this one lady who was wrong about 85% of the time. We just did the opposite of what she said. Leftist have her beat by about 5 percentage points.

I find the historical revisionism in the US as stupid as the historical revisionism in my Balkan homeland (where people want to remove communist monuments). Does that make me simultaneously a nazi and a commie?

You're adhomming the speaker because you can't engage the argument.


Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Politics isn't about policy...

All good libertarians know that governments shouldn't be in the business of erecting statues and memorials in the first place -- especially war memorials.

However, removing these statues is like becoming an atheist. It's so not important that you remove it, but rather what you replace it with.

No, all libertarians feel that way because soldiers and police officers have talents and virtues that are not to be found among libertarians, something libertarians find repulsive.

Many, many soldiers are libertarian

'Sez who?

I've considered myself a libertarian for almost 30 years. Your comment is just strange.

I’ve considered myself a libertarian for almost 30 years.

'Tis a pity.

Robert E. Lee V, who is justifiably proud of his great great grandfather, doesn't object to the statues being moved to museums.

Not only is there a Robert E. Lee V, there is an Andrew Jackson VI, who is a judge. That is so cool.

Justifiably proud of his great great grandfather? He was a racist, a traitor to his country, defender of slavery and white supremacy, and even ignoring all that, he failed as a general and military strategist. What pride they must have!


He was obviously not a traitor to his country.

Thankfully, all of my ancestors were paragons of virture.

Virtue. I need more coffee. Unfortunately, that is provided by oppressed workers in third-world countries.

And you're a reductionist knucklehead. How does it feel?

What gets me is the total lack of charity to other perspectives here. The idea that opponents may be well-intentioned but mistaken never enters some people's heads. Nope; all opponents are evil all the way down, the lot of them....

If only all our causes were so pure that no one will ever have grounds to reproach us for any of them!

We're pretty primitive, still in the grip of Manicheanism ...

Maybe your view of Manicheanism is primitive.

"The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man."

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I don't think so, and that's not Manichean.

I'm no expert and I'm willing to learn and this is just Wikipedia, but...

"Humanity, the world and the soul are seen as the byproduct of the battle between God's proxy, Primal Man, and Satan. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the soul defines the person, but it is under the influence of both light and dark."


I am sure Wikipedia is very good, but I live with an anti-Manichean guru. Forget the intra-personal battle. The key is the imagined supernatural quality of "evil," which, strictly speaking, inheres in all corrupt matter, but in practice - people being what they are - is assigned to some and not others. Thus: it is not enough to say that slavery in the American South was really bad, maybe especially so, though not unrelated to slavery elsewhere, and not wholly unusual in history. No, the people of the South - and Robert E. Lee - are "evil."

I am more interested in the taint of it that makes Christians largely indifferent to nature.

ok, I think we are in agreement apart from semantics, and the idea that people are wholly good or evil (call it what you will) is simplistic and unhelpful.

If only "simplistic and unhelpful" we're all that it is.

Tangent: on this blog there is much attention to cognitive abilities, and sometimes to something called impulse control. The axis that actually interests me, and that I think maybe a tweak of the dial in my case could have really changed my life, is that of ... how to say, the ratio of head space given to one's personal failings, to shame essentially, and on the other hand to the failings of others.

Underexplored, where the optimum lies.

As Tyler once said: every time you tell the good-vs-evil story, your IQ drops by 10 points.

@Ricardo, whatever dude. Tyler is an exceedingly smart fellow. In his domain.


Tout Comprendre C'est Tout Pardonner, or

Hitler was unforgivably evil.

You can't choose both.

That guy who works for google, he's always got a harem behind him.

I'm not sure if what I wrote earlier was interpreted as "lots of other people are pure and righteous" - not what I meant at all. Just giving my opinion that Robert E Lee was a pretty bad person who made bad choices. I don't think you have to believe any one is pure in order to give the opinion I did.

I also wasn't suggesting his living relatives should be ashamed - just that I didn't see why they would be proud. As Stonewall Jackson's living relatives recently said - they're not ashamed of him (they weren't complicit in his actions) - but they are ashamed of the system of white supremacy that they benefit from today. They are however, proud of their other ancestor, Stonewall Jackson's sister who was a staunch abolitionist and Unionist - which I think makes sense.

You're a posturing bore who does not reflect much on the human condition. You can help your fellow man by listening as well as talking.

Stuart/the left on the removal of statues: "Robert E Lee was a pretty bad person who made bad choices"

NPR/CNN/Washpo on Trump's "is GW or TJ next?": "Oh my! False equivalence. Wink and nod to white nationalists by mentioning antifa"

NPR/CNN/Washpo on McAuliffe on guns being the real evil behind Democrat Terrorist James T. Hodgkinson: *crickets*

Application of Stuart's logic for statue removals to GW or TJ statues: Remove them

NPR/CNN/Washpo on Democrat terrorist JTH: "We need to calm the rhetoric", on white supremacist terrorist: "antifa is good"

Conclusion: The media is lying about the left's intention to ban George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and whomever else BLM/antifa/intersectionalists desire.

Conclusion: The media has no anti-terrorism principle, JTH changed nothing, whereas the nazi terrorist has NPR finally mentioning antifa, but only to describe the movement (to a violent communist revolution and the comcomitant purges, gulags, and genocides) in a positive light. Just a bunch of friendly, Nazi-hating Stalinists!

It is not enough to shape the future, as perforce every generation must, but some want to shape the past.

@Thomas - so I actually do think GW and TJ should not be honored - in statutes, in city names, etc. (I'm not saying erase their actions from history - just don't single them out for honoring them). My social network skews very liberal (liberal echo chamber mostly) but I know nearly no liberals that agree about GW or TJ. I find most liberals to still be very enamored by the narrative of America - so they reject Confederate memorializing but bothered by founding fathers like GW or TJ.

If your response to this is, well that's a slippery slope, and it means you can't ever honor anyone! - well, I don't find the slippery slope argument very convincing. You can apply it to nearly anything. You could apply to when they put statutes up and say, you're putting a statue up of a that guy, whose next? Is everyone going to get a statue? Where do you draw the line?? I imagine you wouldn't find that persuasive either.

Yes, for memorials we have to draw lines. We can try our best not to make them arbitrary or overly rigid. We have to acknowledge that no one was a perfect, flawless human being. But for me, my line is "Did they own human beings as chattel slaves?" - if the answer is yes, I don't think you're a good candidate to memorialize, even if you were very brave and accomplished in fighting for the rights of other white men.I think there are plenty of amazing people to honor who made this country better who didn't own human beings as chattel slavery - even knowing these people were not pure saints without human flaws. I'll give Harriet Tubman as an example. I'm also partial to Quaker leaders, many of whom were morally light years ahead of their white peers in opposing slavery and the oppression of women.

'just don’t single them out for honoring them'

Yeah, why would anybody want to honor the man that wrote these words - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.'

Sounds extremely dodgy, if not downright un-American, right?

Washington set an example not seen since Cincinnatus, creating a template for wielding executive political power that remains almost as unique in human history as the passage above.

Maybe the real problem is in recognizing that perfection is not achievable by anyone, and that simplistic hero worship is for children.

@priortest3 - you write "Yeah, why would anybody want to honor the man that wrote these words " - again, because he owned human beings as slaves. I guess I haven't been clear about that? Yes, he bravely fought for a new form of government to give fellow white landowning men more autonomy and democracy than they had before - I'm well aware. If no one on earth in the 18th century knew that slavery was wrong I would view his actions far differently - but the thing is, there were plenty of people (including white men) who knew it was wrong and opposed it. The fact slavery was wrong was not a discovery made by scientists in 1865.

You then write "Maybe the real problem is in recognizing that perfection is not achievable by anyone, and that simplistic hero worship is for children."

Again, as I've already said, I'm not saying we should look for perfection. No one is perfect. I'm not saying we should hero worship. I'm saying we should just honor human beings who did great things and didn't own human beings as chattel slaves. And again I'll give Harriet Tubman an example, but happy to provide others. Was she saint like? Pure in every motive and action throughout her life? No - she was a human. She had flaws. But I think she's the kind of person who did the kind of things we should honor.

Imagine if someone wants to put up a statute of President Harding or Edwin Edwards- and you point out you think the bad things he did outweigh any good he did. And that person's response - "Well gosh - you are just demanding someone's who 100% perfect! No one is perfect - you're being unreasonable!" - that's what I'm hearing a lot of and it's not persuasive, because it's not at all what I'm saying.

Thomas Jefferson condemned slavery in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

It was removed after some of the delegates who were slave traders balked.

They sure do. An impressive family: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_family. I wonder if there is/will be a Robert E. Lee VI

The shrill demeanor and hyper-fast and relentless cultural changes imposed by the Left are making things a lot worse. It's just adding fuel to the fire.

Most people who admire Robert E. Lee aren't racist, let alone alt.Nazis. Let's keep it that way, shall we?



"Justifiably proud"

Why not? The men who actually fought against Lee admired him. But you know better.

"he failed as a general and military strategist"

Well, he lost, fortunately. But he really didn't have a chance. The Union was too strong and the South too weak.

He nearly pulled it off though. Couple of breaks at Gettysburg, who knows.

@Bob "Why not?" - well, the reasons I listed. I think fighting to defend slavery is a good reason not to be proud of someone, but maybe we have different value systems.

And separately, if the South could have won - then Lee was in fact a failure as a general and strategist. And if they couldn't have won, what was the point of leading so many people to their deaths? So slavery wouldn't end without even more loss of life?

@Art Deco, disagree on the first part, agree on the second. I find the second part particularly interesting given that I read tons of these comments, rarely ever write or share my opinion, yet I see your name commenting very frequently on just about anything. Maybe you think your thoughts are so compelling and insightful that while most people should do more listening and less talking, you are the exception - idk, just speculation.

Your argument is too broad and allows the removal of almost any historical figure. There are better arguments to make but the left is so intellectually lazy that they don't even bother. Just stir up outrage, and when presented with the logical fallacies of you arguments say "nuance, context" a lot and point to some claptrap penned by an intersectional communist and peer reviewed by the same. Sad.

"if the South could have won – then Lee was in fact a failure as a general and strategist. And if they couldn’t have won, what was the point of leading so many people to their deaths?"

You can literally say that about every general ever.

Napoleon was the greatest "musket era" general ever. No one disputes this. Yet he lost in the end.

Washington was a horrible general in most ways but he kept his force in the field until he won the war. The odds of the colonials winning were very small, much smaller than the South's chances.

"maybe we have different value systems"

Maybe I understand that history didn't start yesterday.

Churchill (the war-winning politician and Nobel prize winner, not the playwright) has written a political fiction work on the idea that the South could have won the war -- sort of.

To summarize, he imagines Lee winning the battle of Gettysburg (which was close, really), and then taking by storm nearby Washington. In the long run, argues Churchill, the strategic advantage would have stayed to the North. But in the short run, it would have been a huge blow to the morale of the North, though probably not enough to have them accepting the secession and the end of the war. But, Churchill imagines, Lee would have seized the full power in the South, decided a progressive end of Slavery there, and proposed peace to the North. Without the motivation of ending slavery, and after a resounding defat, the North accepts the peace. The South becomes an independent country, where Slavery slowly disappears in two or three decades, while the North becomes most of what it has become in our reality: more and more industrialized and powerful. This ends with a strong reconciliation between North and South engineered by the UK, and the alliance of those three prevents WW1 from happening.

A fun read, and a reminder that people who were not pro-slavery could have admired Lee. About Churchill's assertion that Lee was not pro-slavery, and served the South only because he felt more loyalty to his state of Virginia than the the United States, I have heard many contrary opinion, so I assume it must be wrong.

Reference: "If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg" by Winston Churchill. (From wikipedia:
"This essay is written from the viewpoint of a historian in a world where the Confederate Army won the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War, and the narration frequently asks what would happen if that were not so, the joke being that we know that it isn't so.")

@Bob - Napoleon had flashes of military brilliance, sure, but invading Russia proved to be a pretty big blunder and he ultimately failed. I still don't understand why, if Robert E Lee had no chance to beat the North, why he would fight and have so many men die for nothing. And if he could have won, then perhaps he wasn't such a great military leader, given that he didn't win?

"Napoleon had flashes of military brilliance"


Ok, no use arguing anymore.

@Bob - my apologies - I was typing quickly and flashes was not the right word - that wasn't my main point so I didn't think much about it. He had much more military brilliance than I described - agreed. But did his military genius make up for his military blunders, overreach, and underestimating his foes? In my opinion it did not because of the ultimate outcome of his battles.

Are there any who would have preferred the South to have won?
( general question . Not related necessarily related)

The CSA's best chance for victory was in the fall of 1862, when their armies were on the offense in three theaters of war, and they lost all three battles (Antietam, Perrysburg, Corinth).

Sharpsburg was not a Confederate defeat, viewed by itself. Please, let's not overplay this Lee was incompetent theme. especially as it was the Union that lost in its attempt to crush Lee's army - 'After pursuing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of the Union Army launched attacks against Lee's army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's Cornfield, and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.

Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan's attacks failed to achieve force concentration, which allowed Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving interior lines to meet each challenge. Therefore, despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Antietam

Fort A.P Hill still exists, by the way - https://www.army.mil/aphill#org-about

If you meant the failure of the Maryland Campaign, then yes, it was a definite Confederate strategic defeat, in part because Lee assumed that Marylanders would flock to his slave holder banner, which turned out not to be the case - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland_Campaign

No, not what the Russians call a рaзгром, a crushing defeat, but still a поражеие, meaning that the goals of the campaign failed -- Lee's invasion of the North was turned back. If McClellan had been on the ball it could well have been a рaзгром. And it doomed the South in a political sense as it led to the issuance of the Emancipation proclamation, after which the chance that any foreign power would enter the war on the South's side (the only way the CSA could have won the war) became equal to the possibility of flying pigs and western sunrises.

Well, it does very strange that this nation had more Confederate than Union statues. Also, following the war (until 1965) most popular culture sympathize with the Confederate versus Union cause which something I never could quite understand. It was known as the Lost Cause.

However, since African-Americans been included in the popular culture mix, the Confederate reputation has taken a beating.

Are there really more Confederate statues in America than Union ones? Every New England town I've ever been in has a Union soldier on the village green. I guess I haven't spent much time in the South.

BTW, Taney was not a Confederate, although Tyler doesn't seem to know that.

I grew up amongst a few of the largest Civil War battlegrounds. The parks, the monuments were my playgrounds. I always wondered by I never saw a monument to Confederate regiments, even in Chickamauga where the Confederates won and had the second most casualties after Gettysburg. I didn't see my first monument to Confederate soldiers until I was 25, in Norfolk, VA.

There are monuments to both sides at Gettysburg.

History, often but not always, is NOT written by the winners but instead the losers. The winners move onto other things and memory of why they fought and the anger they had at the enemy starts to dissipate while the losers nurse the grudge and try to compensate for the loss by mythologizing their side.

"Malice towards none" was part of the deal (restored at the end of reconstruction).

"Practitioners don’t write; they do. Birds fly and those who lecture them are the ones who write their story. So it is easy to see that history is truly written by losers with time on their hands and a protected academic position."

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

South longed for something that was lost. North was just happy for the war to be over.

There hasn't in a century been a shortage of blacks as purveyors of mass entertainment, not from Scott Joplin and Jack Johnson going forward.

In 1960, we had Dinah Washington, Brook Benton, and Confederate memorials. Now we have salaried employees in higher education who tell us we must pretend 'hip hop' is music and we cannot have Confederate memorials. It's all an exchange of ego satisfactions among different fractions of the professional-managerial class, and pretty repulsive for a' that.

I really like Old Town Alexandria. It's a cool place to take a walk and the waterfront parks are great. But if you judge a place solely by its restaurants, as Tyler might, then yes you're probably not a fan, as it's all overpriced yuppie crap.

Tyler likes strip malls.

Tyler likes strip malls that have non-chain restaurants with food he likes. I don't think he cares a wit about the mall itself, just that it's a venue for this type of establishment.

This is a wrong fight and will create sympathy for white nationalists. Fighting racism is not the same as bringing down a few statues.

Yes, bringing down Lenin statues made communism very popular among young people in eastern Europe.

It's pure provocation. We are being set up to take sides in a war that will only benefit the oligarchs. We've already reached the point where we are supposed to dismiss any attempts at reasonable diologue as evil.


This is just Biden's "they want to put you in chainzzzz" comment in physical format.

The opposition party is neo-confederates! Watch out! You better vote for the old white socialist this time!

I don't see much outpouring of sympathy for white nationalists.

If anything, it makes them come out of their hole and reveal themselves for what they are; violent but blubbering babies when they face consequences.

they face consequences.

Be sure next time you're not in a jurisdiction like Alabama where the police will tell you to take your mask off per state law.

And if its 'consequences' you'd like to administer, I hope you won't mind when an irate supporter of the President puts his fist in your masked face.

Allowing them to speak in public, allows their words to be stripped naked in the blazing sun and beaten down by exposure to better ideas.

On the contrary, I've heard many Midwestern friends and family complain about how the white nationalists are being unfairly singled out, especially by the fake news media. "both sides are wrong!" they will say, but that's the strongest critique you'll see. I never believed I would live to see people from 95% white, Midwestern towns sympathize with neonazis and white nationalists in this way.

Just as Trump said there were some good people among the alt-right, I guess Tyler feels there some good dictators.

Do most people genuinely believe that there are not good people on the "alt-right"? That strikes me as crazy.

"Good person" is a pretty vague term, and I imagine there's wide disagreement on what exactly it means. In one sense, nobody is a "good person" (Romans 3:23). But people generally recognize "degrees" of goodness. Using that sort of scale, alt-right's overt racism, trolling, etc. is a huge black mark against them in most peoples' minds. Doesn't matter if you're a wonderful husband, father, and volunteer at the local soup kitchen if you also think Jews should be gassed and call black people monkeys.

But does anyone actually advocate gassing Jews? That's obviously very bad. If people don't advocate that, (blood?) libeling them is also pretty bad.

This is a fallacy:

1. It's bad for someone to advocate gassing Jews.
2. Not all alt-right advocate gassing Jews.
3. Therefore, not all alt-right are bad.

Namely because they may hold *other* beliefs that *also* render them "not good people" in most peoples' eyes. My purpose in mentioning the gassing of Jews is that some "bad" beliefs can outweigh lots of other "good stuff", e.g. good father, good husband, pillar of the community, etc., when trying to assign a "good" or "bad" label to someone.

yes, that is a fallacy, but so what? No one brought it up before you.

the question was whether or not most people believe that someone on the alt-right automatically makes them a bad person.

Not seeing the fallacy. Is gassing Jews a belief commonly associated with the alt right or not? You obviously imply that it is.

If people genuinely believe that that is the kind of sentiment you would find among those people, I'm not surprised that people would think there are zero good people among these groups. However, I really doubt that is what is being advocated.

Unfortunately, fear and loathing make dialogue and any kind of modus vivendi impossible. This is not a good situation. We need to develop some kind of philosophical dialogue, but we have reached the point where not only is truth no defense, but among some the entire concept of truth is suspect. The only alternative to Truth is force majeure which means that Truth is our only defense against the powerful. We need a new philosophical lingua francs so that we might reason together.

By the way, I in no way implied the syllogism you provide. I didn't say not believing in gassing Jews makes one a good person. That's obviously stupid. I meeely questioned whether that was even part of the altright phenomenon at all.

The back and forth, as I understood it, was:

You: People shouldn't say that everyone in the alt-right is "Bad".
Me: Regardless of how good you are in other areas of life, you don't get to be a "good person" if you advocate genocide.
You: But many of them don't advocate genocide.
Me: It's a fallacy to conclude that (some in the alt right don't advocate genocide) implies (you can't say everyone in the alt-right is "bad").

I took you to be saying that, since they're not all genocidal, we can't conclude they're all "bad". Which, I hope you'll agree, is a fallacy. For instance, they might all be child molesters. (That's not true; just an example that highlights the fallacy.)

No. I was accusing you of possibly doing something bad, libeling a group of people by implying that they think Jews should be gassed. I said nothing in that comment about alt-righters not being bad.

Before alt-right came to mean Nazi in the public mind, I took it to mean people who were immigration restrictionists, skeptical about globalism and American imperialism, and defined as being in opposition to neo-cons, who they saw as more beholden to Israel than to American interests. There seemed to be some hostility toward what they saw as a Jewish perspective. That part was definitely off-putting to me.

I never saw anyone advocating for pogroms.

It's all how you define alt-right. I keep hearing it and still don't know. Is it just the white-power people, who would not be good, or does it include the tea party folks, who are better than the anti-alt-right people?

I'd posit three definitions. First is the one from Paul Gottfried, who first used the term in 2008. Second is a recent definition by Richard Spencer, who popularized the term, written in response to Charlottesville. The third is to simply look at beliefs that are commonly held by individuals who self-identify as "alt-right".

Gottfried, "The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right":

Spencer, "What it Means to be Alt Right":

Milo, writing at Breitbart, "Establishment Conservative's Guide to the Alt Right":

I'd argue that whatever Gottfriend meant by the term when he first used it in 2008, the definition has probably changed (and expanded) since then.

It has been defined by its enemies. This obviously makes it less attractive.

The examples I gave were not from "enemies" of the alt right, so they're not immediately suspect.

Right, but first, the existence of an "alternative" right is oppositional by definition. It is those they have defined themselves to oppose that have decided that a) the alt-right shall be the new bete noir rather than the "neoreactionaries" or Christian fundamentalists or whomever else b) that Richard spencer rather than Paul gottfried represents the authentic alt right and c) that the essential tenets of Richard Spencers ideology are the same as Adolf Hitler's. So people can unironically suggest that support for gassing Jews is a characteristic of, if not all, then many in the alt right.

Serious question: aren't neo-nazis mostly holocaust deniers? Doesn't that mean they obviously think that the holocaust was bad? Otherwise why deny it?

It was a handy taxon to refer to a jumble of people with somewhat different interests (but some common associations and dispositions): the von Mises Institute, the Rockford Institute, the Unz circle, the Wick Allison circle, the AmRen crew, and the Jeffrey Polet circle (and that other fellow who posts as 'moldbug'). It's now been used by the media to refer to the ruder component of the AmRen crew, so its use now is likely to be misleading if made use of as a generic.

"The mayor just did it. Physically. Overnight. The importance of physical space, and how we shape and present it, must have been paramount in his mind."

Perhaps she had been reading The Power Broker.

How about the Vietnam war memorials? Not the wall, the statutes.


I remember years ago Mayor Daley of Chicago ordered bulldozers to destroy Meigs Fields in the middle of the night, without giving the required notice to the FAA.

Many commenters complain that the decision and action by the mayor was "without democratic input". That's the way it's always been in America, from the early days of the republic when all blacks, women, and non-freeholders were denied "input" to today when a combination of obstacles that deny any "input" from a significant part of the adult population to pervasive propaganda that denies informed "input". If "conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential” to the success of the undemocratic right-wing social movement, then why shouldn't opponents of the undemocratic right wing social movement employ the same tactic of "conspiratorial secrecy" to promote the success of a democratic movement. Supporters of the right-wing social movement are complaining that the opposition has adopted their (so far highly successful) tactics.

"Democratic input": a term you do not understand but feel free to write blocks of text about.

"The mayor just did it. Physically. Overnight. The importance of physical space, and how we shape and present it, must have been paramount in his mind"

The mayor identifies as female.

Because she is.

She/he/it can be whoever he/she/it fells like at any moment. Your use of the present and continuous tense betrays your hetronormative determinism! You cis-genderedly assume that she couldn't be anything else if she wanted and privilege your frame of knowing without queering the debate. Problematic. Very problematic.

Asking for a friend.

If losers are entitled to build monuments.......can Mexicans erect monuments to the defeated soldiers of 1846-1848 Mexican-American war from California to Texas?

Build them in Laredo, where hispanophone Chicanos are actually a majority.

There are 0 monuments but there's an annual ceremony that remembers the fallen of both armies every year near Brownsville (TX):

"The annual Memorial Illumination is an opportunity to highlight the service of troops from both armies during the early battles of the U.S.-Mexican War. The event attempts to push beyond debates over a controversial war to recognize individual soldiers and honor their service and sacrifices for their respective nations." https://www.nps.gov/paal/learn/news/annual-memorial-illumination.htm

In the Paul Revere walk in the Boston area, there are plates commemorating the British soldiers who died there, and sometimes UK flags and flowers.

They haven't built any monuments in the territory return to Mexican control after the peace?

People in Maryland don't care. Even the Speaker of the House and the Republican Governor want the Roger Taney statue removed from the grounds of the statehouse. When that monument gets yanked down, I sure hope it has enough 'democratic input' for the plurality of the commentariat on this blog.

Even the Speaker of the House and the Republican Governor want the Roger Taney statue removed from the grounds of the statehouse.

Like many Republican politicians, Gov. Hogan from time to time inadvertantly demonstrates the value of a properly ordered liberal education.

Governor Hogan 2 years ago: "Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he supports taking some steps to address concerns over the Confederate flag and whether it is a historic symbol or racist reminder, but extreme measures only represented “political correctness run amok.”
Asked whether he would review Confederate statues around the state in the same way that the city of Baltimore is doing, Hogan said he “would have no interest in that.”"

Probably too much 'democratic input' in the interim which caused the public reversal.

Almost certainly has little to do with 'democratic input' and a great deal to do with who the mayor talks to all day every day and who his staff talks to. Very unpopular policies persist for decades because that's what the sort of people in the social circle of politicians (and especially judges) want. If 'democratic input' mattered, you'd have very little legal abortion in this country and 'affirmative action' would have disappeared 40 years ago.

"who the governor talks to".

Yeah, he just pulled a 180 because of some cocktail parties.

Pretty much. That's how it works.

So Hogan is hanging with the BLM crowd? Who knew?

So Hogan is hanging with the BLM crowd? Who knew?

Likely downtown bankers and lawyers, who ponder these matters less deeply than Mitt Romney and George Bush the Elder.

So Hogan went native. Tends to happen to GOP pols in very left states.

Why are they removing the statute of a loyal Unionist like Taney though?

Can't imagine why. Must be some secret and unknowable reason. I've been told to check the Governor's table at his most recent dinner party. Check there.

Taney issued wrote a Court decision in which it was formally denied that slaves were human persons with legal recourse under the Constitution and rights that other were bound to respect., although nothing in the Constitution conduces to that principle and the case could have been decided on much narrower grounds. Ask a pro-Life person how he would look on a monument to Harry Blackmun who wrote the majority opinion in Roe vs Wade.

I had no notion that Maryland - or, most likely, various private societies in Maryland - had any Confederate monuments.

Was the South complacent in putting up the memorials in the first place? I am starting to see this word "complacent" has no or any meaning.

The question of whether this country can contain multiple countries - which some of us endorse, not least because for many of us, travel is only domestic, not international, and the diversity is appreciated - interests me.

My state will be a hybrid of Mexico and Central America in a generation. Are you going to be able to handle that? You will not be able to homogenize the regional difference away, and it will involve much more than statues of people once admired locally.

Ceasar Chavez parks abound. He was against illegals...when will those be renamed?

I'm not joking...they probably will be.

The Mason-Dixon line was the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Maryland was a slave state, and had pretty considerable confederate sympathies, but voted not to secede just prior to Fort Sumter. After hostilities began, there was a riot in Baltimore, Lincoln suspended habeus corpus and arrested Baltimore's mayor, city council, police commissioner, and other secessionists and ignored the Supreme Court's ruling that his action was unconstitutional (sadly there appears to be no record of a pithy quote daring the court to enforce it's decision).

"ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling that his action was unconstitutional "

Written by Taney! Whose statute they are removing

Pedantic note, while Taney was Chief Justice, in those days Supreme Court justices also acted as judges of an intermediate appeals court [United States Circuit Court} so Merryman was not a Supreme Court decision.

Lincoln ginned up a Civil War as a naked power grab. Few understand this. Sad.

Because it happened in an alternate reality. In this one the Southern planter class pushed for secession, formed the Confederate government and then fired on Ft. Sumter.

sarchasm: the gulf between a sarcastic comment and its misinterpretation.

There was a surge in Confederate monuments in the years just proceeding and dropping off quickly after the 50 year anniversary celebration in 1913, where veterans of the Union and Confederacy came together in reconciliation. The much smaller surge in the 1960s was pure Democratic party racism.

Bravo, and let’s hope Old Town Alexandria — wihch frankly I have never liked — does the same with its prominent Lee statue.

Old Town Alexandria is quite handsome (which is why it is expensive). It's telling that you don't care for it. You don't go there, but you want the Lee statue pulled down because reasons. (Reasons which are almost certainly ignoble).

Doesn't focusing on removing statues--rather than useless statutes--help distract voters by favoring short-term results over verifiable, long-term gains in social cohesion?

Also, isn't it easier to topple a statue than to sit down and figure out how to reduce pension ROIs, allocate sustainable funding for public safety (while increasing accountability), and improve educational outcomes?

Well, yes. It's not difficult to contrive a plan to address Baltimore's problems. Half the impediment is simply inertia and prevailing mentailities. The other half consists of vested interests and cross-cultural suspicion. So, you have diversions. It works the same way in my home town.

It's also easier to put up statues..."to distract voters"... than to make the Veterans' Administration competent.

The VA is not the problem in Baltimore. Street crime and school disorder are the problems. The mayor's response to the crime is to tell the city council to spend more on community colleges. Whatever noodly things the state government has done two generations, they have never encompassed enabling legislation for metropolitan policing for Baltimore or the Washington suburbs.

Baltimore does not need more policing-- it needs better policing. No one, alas, is quite sure how what "better" entails.

Baltimore does not need more policing– it needs better policing.

No, its police force is badly understaffed given population and a reasonable estimate of troublesome clientele. Given the staffing levels of the NYPD &c, a city police for of about 8,500 in Baltimore might be equivalent (presuming optimal deployment and tactics). There are currently about 3,200 officers in Baltimore.

Lack of complacency is overrated.

Would Tyler approve of let's say Malcolm X monuments and plaques disappearing overnight by fiat? Looks like academic social pressure is finally getting to the poor guy.

That corner of "the street named for Malcolm X and the street named for the guy who killed Malcolm X" will present a particular challenge (the only 10 seconds I ever watched of that show, and it was perfect).

I think people are missing the point that this action was taken with the unanimous agreement of the legisatlive and executive branch of the government who is responsible for these statutes. So "by fiat" you mean the collective and unanimous action of the elected representatives of the city. The definitions of fiat I see are "a decree" and "arbitary order" - I don't really think that word fits this situation. When Congress and the President agere unanimously to rename a post office, would you describe it as "by fiat"?

My take is different from Cowen's. This isn't the end of complacency with respect to the monuments. Rather, it's the end of the expectation that the monuments can be taken down after a period of public discussion without significant risk of a huge shit show like Charlottesville. The mayor likely came to the conclusion that the monuments were eventually coming down, then acted stealthily to avoid an ugly white nationalist protest.

Good point.

The mayor decided that some people might strongly oppose the action, so he did it in secret to avoid that discussion. Hmmmm.

Put another way, the mayor concluded that the vast majority of her constituents support the removal, but that there would be a small group of people who opposed it, many of whom aren't even from Baltimore, and that there was a reasonable risk of this contingent complicating the lives of the average Baltimore resident and/or costing the city money.

Yes this is how minority rights get obiterated.

Again, if the mayor went outside the scope of her authority in removing the monuments then that's bad. If she did not, then it's not bad. Nothing says there needs to be a public referendum on everything a mayor does.

Here is what was supposed to happen:


In secret... hence the press photos.
And it's she.

Otherwise, spot on.

Some people. Hmmmm.


Not that it makes much of a difference in meaning, but I feel it's important to recognize that the statue in Old Town isn't actually a statue of Lee. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appomattox_(statue)

Also, Alexandria City Council voted to relocate the statue last year, but the move is blocked by Virginia code 15.2-1812. http://wapo.st/2v5rPuo

>But, posturing aside

Did he just take an issue that is 100% about posturing, and then decide to discuss it by leading off with "posturing aside"? Yes. Yes he did.

I do thank Ty for not attempting to contain his glee over this totalitarian act. I'm sure he'll be celebrating Trump's non-complacent acts from here on out!

Totalitarian, how ?

Don't mind OJ, the next correct thought he expresses will be his first (here anyway).

Wait. You don't like Old Town Alexandria??!

I like the low key approach. Things change, bye-bye monuments. Just don't turn it into a circus for morons yelling at each other.

+1. Of course, there's always the internet for that.

Ilya Somin argues that we shouldn't worry about slippery-slope arguments along the lines of "They came for Robert E. Lee and I said nothing... They came for Thomas Jefferson, and there was no one left to speak." Somin argues that Lee, Jackson, et al., are only being honored for their role in supporting the confederacy, and that this creates a reasonably bright line: people like Jeffferson and Washington are honored for reasons extending beyond their role in the slavery system, so their statues and memorials are safe from removal.

Does the removal of Taney statues cast doubt on Somin's argument? Taney was certainly a supporter of slavery, but was notable for other reasons as well; Volokh's co-Conspirator Ilya Somin, in a 2016 piece on Antonin Scalia, notes that "In his own time, Chief Justice Roger Taney was viewed by many as a a great jurist," presumably notable for things apart from Dred Scott (including, arguably, his presiding over and joining the majority opinion in the Amistad case).

The decision to remove Taney statues appears to be based on the idea that Taney's other notable accomplishments are eclipsed by his role in Dred Scott. Contra Volokh, does it seem all that unreasonable to suppose that Jefferson's ownership of slaves likewise eclipses secondary accomplishments like the Declaration of Independence?

See: Woodrow Wilson / Princeton. Yes you can make that argument, but the left will keep going. "Racism" is plenty for them. They will more easily travel forward in time from the Civil War, not backwards.

"Taney was certainly a supporter of slavery"

Yet he freed the slaves he inherited from his father.

History is complicated and nuanced, iconoclasts see everything clearly.

Interesting, thanks.

Madison Wisconsin has removed a plaque and monument from a cemetery that commemorated the Confederates who died in a nearby POW camp.

Yawn. I'll be impressed when someone does the same thing to an inner city Teacher's Union hall.

After reading the comments and watching what has happened this week I am going to reread Murray Edelman's book, "Symbolic Uses of Politics"

"Edelman’s innovative and classic book The Symbolic Uses of Politics (1964) is the seminal work on symbolic politics, and it continues to exert a widespread influence on scholarly research. In it, Edelman explored the use of myths, rites, and other symbolic forms of communication in the formation of public opinion and policy. He drew a distinction between the conventional view of politics, which focuses on how people acquire what they want through government, and the reality of politics, in which political symbolism is used to influence a country’s citizens by placating them or compelling them to act. The book was centred on the notion that democracy is largely symbolic and expressive in function and has fostered vibrant scholarly debate. According to Edelman, political reality is concealed from the public through the generation of largely empty symbols by the political elite."

A writer local to Dallas floated what I thought was a really great idea for Confederate monuments: Keep the statues, but move them all to a single location, a single memorial to slavery and the Confederacy. That way, we wouldn't be whitewashing our history, nor would the neo-confederates be able to complain that their statues were being torn down. It's a sad state of the culture war that such compromises aren't allowed.

Put up an antislavery statue right next to the confederate monument. Put up a plaque on the evils of slavery right next to the monument. This prevents the monument from being a altar for Nazi or White supremacist worship.

In Germany you can't escape reminders of the holocaust and won't find memorials for Hitler or his Generals but in the US we don't find monuments to the horrors of slavery and we do find monuments for those who fought for slavery and wished to preserve it.

Let's have some antislavery monuments right next to a monument or some plaques describing the slavery holocaust.

Good point.

We could also put up WWII monuments next to the statues with an inscription that we fought against the Nazis and all that they stood for.

Except that we didn't enter the war until Germany declared war on us, in retaliation for our declaration of war against Japan...

We were aiding England and it was inevitable. Read Churchill.

Hardly... Churchill himself wrote that on the night after Pearl Harbor, he "slept the sleep of the saved and thankful." It was not at all clear that the U.S. would enter the war before that point (although of course Churchill was certainly hoping it would happen, and confident in public that it would, despite his private doubts).

Speaking of stealth operations, the mayor of Curitiba, Brasil created one of the world's first pedestrian malls via a stealth operation over a single weekend, so his plan couldn't be stopped by court injunctions from the businesses on the street as well as the automobile club. When the mall opened, businesses threatened to sue, but by the afternoon, the mall proved so popular that businesses were demanding it be extended to more streets.

I can't help but feeling this is all a minor issue blown into a major issues due to the Culture Wars. Both sides act in Bad faith and with Self Righteousness with no attempts being made at reaching a middle ground.

Welcome to Twitter World

Now that Baltimore is no longer complacent, things are really looking up for its citizens.

History can now become anything one wants it to be.

Prosperity and a low murder rate are imminent.

Martin Luther King cheating on his wife-- tear down the statues.

Nelson Mandela was a terrorist-- no statues or you support terrorism.

Necklacing was and is a courageous anti-colonial, anti-racist act. If you are a black man who does not support the communist revolution, then you are a race traitor and deserve to be beaten by a group of your peers, followed by a gasoline doused tire being placed around your body and lit on fire.

Why were there confederate statues in Baltimore to begin with? Maryland was part of the Union. It's funny how little pride the side that was morally right and didn't support an evil institution, won the war, and preserved our country has. Replace these statues with statues of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Lincoln.

These statues are awful and are part of wishful thinking about the Civil War. The South had and has nothing to to be proud of from that conflict, these statues try to deny that. If you want to honor the dead, like we honor the dead from the Vietnam War or other misguided conflicts that's one thing. But don't honor the leaders who supported a non-democratic rebellion based on an evil instiution.

This is "good Indian = dead Indian" Sheridan that we're talking about, right? Once we've eliminated all of our granite and bronze celebrations of slavery's defenders, we need to start uprooting the monuments to those who promoted the wholesale robbery of the Native Americans, including everyone who kept silent and profited from it. (I'm looking at you, Homestead National Monument.) Then we can get to work on the supporters of the Mexican-American War, which Ulysses Grant hypocritically condemned in his memoirs after he'd used it to advance his military career.

We should also be pressing our European friends to take similar actions. I'm sure that our Jewish readers will agree that the Arch of Titus has to go...

Sherman? Yeah, that's the ticket, that way we can all come together.

Was the confederacy the first nation defeated in modern total warfare? Might be. If so, I find some sympathy with their feelings. A man, stripped of pride, is capable of much evil.

The South may have lost the war, but they won the peace.

No, they just didn't lose as badly as it appeared in 1868.

Maryland did not secede, but it was a slave state and barely a part of the Union. Baltimore saw the first casualties of the war on April 19, 1861, when Union Soldiers en route from the President Street Station to Camden Yards clashed with a secessionist mob in the Pratt Street Riot. There is a reason Baltimore City is not part of a county and Abraham Lincoln had to be secreted through Baltimore by Alan Pinkerton on his way to his inauguration in DC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Plot.

Wow people sure know their history here. I was being provocative with Sherman and Sheridan. But I haven't seen anyone rebut Somin's argument - removing statues of Grant, Sherman or Sheridan - I could see a slippery slope argument. Removing confederate statues is not a slippery slope argument. They are being celebrated for supporting something we all condemn, and part of their history is people refusing to face the truth about secession. Or do we have to relitigate that for the thousandth time?

But this was my point in calling attention to the removal of the Taney statue, above. Somin argued that it was OK to remove statues of Lee, Davis, Jackson, etc., since their only real claim to fame was their support of the Confederacy, which existed primarily in order to maintain slavery. But Taney's legacy is more mixed: while most people think of him primarily as the author of the Dred Scott opinion, he remained in the US after secession, and was involved in a number of other significant Supreme Court decisions.

Taney's statue is apparently being removed on the grounds that his involvement in Dred Scott outweighs everyting else. But this is launching us down exactly the sort of slippery slope that Somin pooh-poohs. Mightn't this or future generations tear down Jefferson statues because his slave-raping outweighs the Declaration of Independence; Sheridan statues because his role in the wholesale robbery of Native Peoples' land outweighs his contributions to the outcome of the Civil War; Grant statues because his participation in the theft of Aztlan outweighs his defeat of Lee; MLK statues because his speciesist endorsement of hamburger-eating outweighs anything he did to promote equality among humans...

"without democratic input..."

I can hear Nancy MacLean now: "See?? I KNEW Tyler Cowen was an antidemocratic racist! I told you he ... oh, wait a minute..."

Tyler, I am shocked that you overlooked an opportunity for “Markets in Everything – I’m Aggrieved Edition”. Baltimore needs revenue. They could remove the statues (or do it in situ) to a place where all aggrieved could pay a small fee to hammer, urinate, spit, or defecate on the offending statue of their choice. In fact, some entrepreneur is likely to recycle these torn –down monuments, or create new ones--- into a national chain of amusement parks for thesse purposes. Or I suppose in a Coasean world they could sell them, or sell the right to view them, or have a daily auction for the right to cover them up?

So, one assumes Tyler is in support of changing the name from George Mason University to something else?

Koch U?

TJ's Little Brother?

Oops, not Thomas Jefferson. According to our president, the writer of the Declaration of Independence will apparently soon be having his memorials destroyed (which will make it easy to destroy the George Mason Memorial in DC at the same time). Along with needing to get rid of the remaining books Thomas Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.

"There's a big difference between being a rapist and defending the institution of rape."

Yes, I'd rather have to hear you defend rape than be raped. George Washington worse than Robert E. Lee confirmed.

I don't understand it.

Trump calls McCain a loser

because was captured

but doesn't call

Robert E. Lee a loser.

Lee wasn't captured (and isn't a contemporary antagonist of Trump, btw).

Let's put a sign under the Lee statue

Which says

"Here Stands a Loser, "


Donald J Trump.

Bill, that might be the best riff I've ever seen out of you.

The Alexandria statue is not of Lee but of a confederate soldier. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/alexandria-will-seek-to-move-confederate-statue-and-rename-jefferson-davis-highway/2016/09/17/fec35310-7b53-11e6-ac8e-cf8e0dd91dc7_story.html?utm_term=.9406e4670340

I will hardly find more complacent than bending the knee to a tailored history.

If you polled even Baltimore residents, I bet less than 1 in 4 even knew these statues existed but now its national news and they're getting more ink then they ever have in the past....so bravo indeed... you really showed them.

The removals have been discussed by the city for the last two years. It was not just done out of the blue

In case I wasn't subtle enough in my other remarks let me just come right out with it. I'm in the Klan. I hold the title of Grand Dragon and I personally shot and killed three young men last Saturday because of the color of their skin.

Check bounced Tyler.

Check your Paypal again, msg

And thus the game is revealed, and I have been proven correct as usual.

"This statue removal was done suddenly, without democratic input for the final decision to proceed, and, as far as I can tell, without much in the way of leaks. The mayor just did it. Physically. Overnight. "

How very fascist of her.

I want to see how the democratic process works when these fascists come up for re-election. Will the electorate ratify their decisiveness or show their displeasure?

In Bodymore, Murdaland?

You're joking, right?

What's so wrong with a community's democratically elected leaders deciding to take down some statues? This is the leadership that Baltimore voted for and if they decide they don't like it, they can vote them out. The "slippery slope" arguments only make sense if you assume that some un-democratic process is taking place here.

Tyler is such a pathetic cuck.

Would a Strassuian read of this post be "Please some of these commenters grow so fed up with me they find another site to troll?"

Although not explicit, Straussian readings tend to be a way to hide real meaning from the socially or politically powerful. The above would more correctly be called passive aggression.

I have noticed that there is a lot of crime around streets named "Martin Luther King". Would crime go down if these streets were renamed?

Probably not, but Chris Rock did the joke better. Paraphrasing: "Martin Luther King stood for non-violence. But I'll tell you, if you go to any MLK Blvd in America right now there's some violence goin' down."

Would financial crimes go up on Wall Street if you named it Donald Trump Avenue.

By the way do you think they will ever name a school after Donald.

He already has a University named after him.

Could this just be group thought, evolution toward a more decentralized future? Evolution through conflict, moving assets, factors of production and personal preferences toward private property. An evolutionary response to the "commons" problem? I think so.

I would love to see some more reasons from Tyler on why he supports tearing down statues.

In my country we have many very old statues from many different time periods. They have survived multiple regimes and rulers over centuries. When I went to both Romania, Cuba and China there was no such thing. While I can't say for sure, the mass-tearing-down of statues seem to me to be a sign of a totalitarian movement. And one which specifically never happen in non-totalitarian circumstances. I claim this because in my Scandinavian country statues of great offense to many have survived no only a few generations, but a millennia.

The thing is we don't look at any of these statues and ask how they live up to the current moral fashions. Obviously everyone in the past would fail spectacularly. Just because some fail worse than others doesn't make the reasoning sound.

Furthermore, it seems to me that the very ideology that is driving tearing down statues is the same that simultaneously is editing content of courses on Universities and advocating editing of old classics, to conform with social justice dogma.

The motte-and-bailley strategy of saying that just because some nazis went to a march then all liberties are suspended is insane. And the overreaction is insane. I checked and number of self-identified nazis is steady over the last decades and declining lately.

What however is not declining, is the social justice ideology take-over of ever-more institutions, of which statues are just the latest one. Including the more violent factions of Antifa, which has more members in their Berkeley sub-group then the KKK has, and is as explicitly violent.

So, a bit of a rant there. But my opinion is less relevant though. I am however very curious to hear how Tyler would justify tearing down of statues, and what should be our preferred principle. Who knows maybe I am wrong, and with this newfound knowledge we should start getting to tearing down some here as well.

Greetings from Scandinavia, where we don't tear down statues, not yet at least.

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