Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

What's all the ruckus? (The Debate Subforum)

Should the Confederate memorial on Stone Mountain be sandblasted out of existence?

Absolutely!
2
10%
Probably.
6
30%
Maybe.
2
10%
Probably not.
7
35%
No way!
3
15%
 
Total votes : 20

Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:06 am

Stone Mountain in Georgia hosts the world's largest bas-relief, featuring Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. It was begun by the Daughters of the Confederacy on land purchased from two of the founders of the Second KKK, finished by the state government during the Civil Rights Movement, and opened on the centennial of Lincoln's assassination. There is absolutely no question that it was created to honor white supremacy, which is problematic in a state park.

The Democratic candidate for Governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams, has called for the relief to be sandblasted off. There is a part of me that is deeply and viscerally bothered by this, because it brings to mind footage of the Taliban destroying the Bamyan Buddhas. And the Taliban, I am sure, found graven idols of a heathen prophet every bit as offensive as I found Stone Mountain. Now, I believe that morally there is no comparison between the two, even if the Bamyan Buddhas hadn't been far older, but I still can't shake the comparison I instinctively make.

Normally, my feeling on Confederate memorials is that they should be removed from public squares and ones which are in some way exceptional should be presented in museums. Stone Mountain is unquestionably exceptional, but there is simply no way to remove it and display it in a museum. The options are to leave it as is, Confederate flags and all (unacceptable, though a lot of Georgians support this option); try to recontextualize it in situ; or sandblast it into oblivion. Stone Mountain is a unique and outstanding natural feature, one which is also close to Atlanta. Given its size and the importance of Stone Mountain itself, I think that in this case, the right thing to do is, indeed, to sandblast it away.

Moreover, I can make another analogy, one which I think is more apt: brutalist architecture. I consider it an affront to good taste, and it angers me when brutalist architecture gets historic protections simply for being representative of a style which was inexplicably popular several decades ago. I would like to see all brutalist architecture disappear in the course of redevelopment. And if I feel that I can justify this for an architectural style which is merely an affront to aesthetics in the course of normal development, then it should be even more justified for relief designed to offend.
  • 4

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 8301
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: The Bad Bart of Ruddigore

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby gisambards » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:15 pm

I think any Confederate flags should be removed (there are none on the actual carving itself), as should anything else actively commemorating the Confederacy beyond the actual relief, which I do think should be preserved. It's undoubtedly exceptional, as the largest bas-relief in the world. I would argue it is in fact the only example of a Confederate monument constructed in the Civil Rights period that does in fact deserve to be maintained on its merits as a piece of work.
  • 11

User avatar
gisambards
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:45 pm
Show rep

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby sunglasses » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:35 pm

I'm with Gis on this.
  • 5

TCS Etiquette Guide

Rules and FAQs

Zevran wrote:Magic can kill. Knives can kill. Even small children launched at great speeds can kill.
User avatar
sunglasses
TCS Moderator
TCS Moderator
 
Posts: 11521
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:52 pm
Show rep
Title: The Speaker of Horrors.

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby NathanLoiselle » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:54 pm

If you destroy your history then you're doomed to repeat it. Destroying a monument simply because it's offensive means that no one will see it and be reminded that it's offensive and more importantly why.
  • 1

User avatar
NathanLoiselle
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 4052
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:49 am
Location: You'll Never Know!
Show rep

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:10 pm

Thought experiments: if this were a built by the Nazis to commemorate their German WWI generals, would those of you who oppose destroying it feel the same way? What if it were built to commemorate actual Nazi generals? What about a monument to the Kim Dynasty after North Korea falls?

Edit: I guess my real question is: is there any situation in which you would support destroying a monument of similar distinction and artistic merit?
  • 3

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 8301
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: The Bad Bart of Ruddigore

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby gisambards » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:38 pm

cmsellers wrote:if this were a built by the Nazis to commemorate their German WWI generals

In this case definitely yes, because there's no reason they couldn't be just as commemorated by those who opposed the Nazis. An equivalent would be if the Confederacy had constructed a monument to an American general from the early 19th century.
As regards the others, I would support preservation but I would also sympathise if they were destroyed immediately following regime change. But basically I do think there is an indefinable point at which those monuments become 'history', and thus should be definitively protected. An immediate destruction of those monuments following the regime change could be argued to be part of that history, but once the oppressors are long dead and thus powerless to stop you (even if their descendants are still arguing against you) then I think it is erasing history to outright destroy what they built. I think they should, wherever possible, be removed from their commemorative position and relegated to museums. I would also that preservation should be applied to the monuments as a group, as opposed to individually - I actually don't think all the memorials need to be preserved, just some to serve as evidence that they were there, with a focus on preserving more interesting or important examples.
  • 5

User avatar
gisambards
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:45 pm
Show rep

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:51 pm

I would tend to agree that at a certain age, monuments to even the worst people become history. I'm not convinced we're past that point, given that the monument was erected within living memory. Could you not argue that a black woman becoming governor in the face of voter suppression of black people by the opposing candidate counts as a regime change?

But of course this raises issues beyond that is that the wounds are still today. An analogy might be a monument to Oliver Cromwell in Northern Ireland. Cromwell is well past the point of living memory, and the Irish have their own state, however the situation in Northern Ireland means that that it is still a really sore point for many Catholics living in Ulster (and even for the Irish in Ireland). Similarly, the legacy of white supremacy is still an ongoing issue in the South, and even places outside the South like Arizona and North Dakota.
  • 2

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 8301
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: The Bad Bart of Ruddigore

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby IamNotCreepy » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:09 pm

cmsellers wrote:Thought experiments: if this were a built by the Nazis to commemorate their German WWI generals, would those of you who oppose destroying it feel the same way? What if it were built to commemorate actual Nazi generals? What about a monument to the Kim Dynasty after North Korea falls?


I think with whether or any monument should stay or goes should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. These are the things I would take into consideration:

1. What the monument is celebrating. I'd be more likely to give a pass to monuments to fallen soldiers, which would be the ancestors of the people living in the area. Monuments celebrating Confederate generals I'd look less favorably on.

2. Who/why it was created. Building a monument in response to the civil rights movement is bad. Memorializing the local men who died by the community and people who knew them is understandable.

3. The artistic or inherent value of the piece itself. Something that is iconic or part of the community essence would have greater weight than a generic obelisk.

4. The feasibility of moving or relocating the monument while keeping it intact.

5. The ability to put the monument in proper historical context.

6. Any aggravating/mitigating factors, such as the monument being explicitly racist, or where the monument is located.

I think most Confederate monuments should be removed, but in the case of Stone Mountain, it has inherent artistic value and is not able to be relocated. I think the government could easily put up plaques or posters informing the public of the history of the monument and putting it in the proper historical context.

I mean, basically you're asking if art should be destroyed because it is offensive, and most of the time, the answer to that is going to be "no."
  • 7

User avatar
IamNotCreepy
TCS Moderator
TCS Moderator
 
Posts: 1446
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:00 am
Location: Inside the "Cone of Uncertainty"
Show rep
Title: The Yeast of Thought and Mind

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby NathanLoiselle » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:35 pm

cmsellers wrote:Thought experiments: if this were a built by the Nazis to commemorate their German WWI generals, would those of you who oppose destroying it feel the same way? What if it were built to commemorate actual Nazi generals? What about a monument to the Kim Dynasty after North Korea falls?

Edit: I guess my real question is: is there any situation in which you would support destroying a monument of similar distinction and artistic merit?


No. I ignore artistic merit completely for one. And second, they're a reminder of history. History isn't always good things that make you proud or feel warm.
  • 0

User avatar
NathanLoiselle
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 4052
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:49 am
Location: You'll Never Know!
Show rep

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby cmsellers » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:02 pm

IamNotCreepy wrote:I mean, basically you're asking if art should be destroyed because it is offensive, and most of the time, the answer to that is going to be "no."

I agree, but in this case the art cannot be moved. Immovable art is deliberately destroyed all the time. Graffiti is destroyed because the vandals didn't get permission. Buildings and legitimate street art is destroyed to make way for redevelopment. In this case, a prominent landmark in near Atlanta was deliberately defaced during the Civil Rights movement as an enduring symbol of white supremacy.

I think that a key point here is that Stone Mountain is an important place in its own right. It is an unusual geographic feature, worth seeing on its own merit, the mural is something that makes it harder to enjoy its natural beauty. And I am not convinced that it can be adequately recontextualized: the fact that it is large, in a prominent location, and cannot be moved was the whole point.

NathanLoiselle wrote:No. I ignore artistic merit completely for one. And second, they're a reminder of history. History isn't always good things that make you proud or feel warm.

The reminder of history one is the same one that people who argued for flying the Confederate Flag and keeping Confederate statues in public squares made. There, of course the proper argument is that the proper place to consider these symbols is in a museum.

But not all Confederate statues even merit being in a museum, and Stone Mountain can't fit. But you can easily put photographs and miniature reproductions of the relief in a museum, in a way that contextualizes history properly without forcing black people to confront it whenever they want to go hiking. I'm not sure I could enjoy hiking on Stone Mountain, and I'm not even black.

And you cannot ignore the context: while overt white supremacy is relegated to the fringe, its pernicious influences continue to this day. Black people in the South are still dealing with its legacy in such examples of government action as education, criminal justice, and voting rights.
  • 3

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 8301
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: The Bad Bart of Ruddigore

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby Marcuse » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:44 pm

Image

Is it this thing?

I'll confess near complete ambivalence about whether it stays or goes. I just think they look like undead generals now.
  • 5

User avatar
Marcuse
TCS Sithlord
TCS Sithlord
 
Posts: 6494
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:00 pm
Show rep

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby iMURDAu » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:45 pm

  • 2

“This is going to become a bad meme,” Todd observed.
User avatar
iMURDAu
TCS Chomper
TCS Chomper
 
Posts: 6313
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:08 am
Location: Route 11 by Scoopalicious
Show rep
Title: King of Fuh

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby JamishT » Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:19 am

I voted for probably. I think it's stupid to keep statues of traitorous losers up. I understand that this is the largest of its kind, which is neat, but that doesn't justify it to me. I don't know for sure, but I imagine if it's done right, you could replace it with different people.

NathanLoiselle wrote:If you destroy your history then you're doomed to repeat it. Destroying a monument simply because it's offensive means that no one will see it and be reminded that it's offensive and more importantly why.

A great way to lead to repeating the mistakes of the past (like a civil war) is to honor the people who helped make those mistakes. Monuments are for honoring people, things, ideas, and events. We do not have any reason to honor those who tried to break away from the Union so they could keep slaves. If we want to put up statues of people from that time to remind us of history so that we do not repeat it, put up statues of slaves.
  • 7

JamishT was a heck of a guy,
With a devilish twinkle in his eye.
With his hand-picked flowers,
And his feel-good powers,
He made all the girls blush and sigh.
User avatar
JamishT
TCS ModerBlobber
TCS ModerBlobber
 
Posts: 5353
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:31 pm
Location: KC, MO, AMERICA
Show rep
Title: The Wannabe Adult

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby IamNotCreepy » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:07 pm

They should just chisel a giant sign above the carving that says "HERE BE RACIST LOSERS. DON'T BE LIKE THEM."
  • 5

User avatar
IamNotCreepy
TCS Moderator
TCS Moderator
 
Posts: 1446
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:00 am
Location: Inside the "Cone of Uncertainty"
Show rep
Title: The Yeast of Thought and Mind

Re: Should the relief on Stone Mountain be destroyed?

Postby ghijkmnop » Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:11 pm

How did you feel when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan? Should we destroy much of Helmut Newton's work because of its oppressive depiction of women? Should we ban Orson Scott Card's writing because he's a homophobe? The list is endless on this slippery slope, and I'm sure most of it is in that "separate the art from the artist" thread.

As an artist, I completely disagree with the destruction of art--and regardless of the message it sends, this is art. If you disagree, you must at least concede that it's master craftsmanship.
  • 5

Erogenous zones, I love you.
Without you, what would a poor boy do?
User avatar
ghijkmnop
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1911
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 8:22 am
Show rep
Title: Oldest member of TCS

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: gisambards and 6 guests