In recent years, campaigns across the globe have called for the removal of objects symbolic of white supremacy. This paper examines the ethics of altering or removing such objects. Do these strategies sanitize history, destroy heritage and suppress freedom of speech? Or are they important steps towards justice? Does removing monuments and renaming schools reflect a lack of parity and unfairly erase local identities? Or can it sometimes be morally required, as an expression of respect for the memories of people who endured past injustices; a recognition of this history's ongoing legacies; and a repudiation of unjust social hierarchies?
Comment (from this Blueprint): It is often thought that statues and monuments, even those of terrible people, are innocuous, that they cannot harm or affect us negatively. This paper helps to spell out the harms of preserving these commemorations. Among other important issues, this paper also engages with the “anachronism” problem, that we are judging people of the past with contemporary standards. This paper also gives a good introduction on the notion of “ideology” and its relation to objectionable commemorations.