If you’ve peeked at the news this past couple of weeks, you’d notice that there’s been an incredible amount of vitriol and violence around the city of Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E Lee.
Obviously the city of Oxford and the Ole Miss campus have several Confederate monuments of their own, and they’re no less controversial. Several towns are now dealing with this new tide of public outcry over whether to have them removed or not.
I personally have no strong feelings on whether the monuments are altered, removed or left alone. I am not offended by them, nor do I feel represented by them. I actually think that it’s a silly issue to get worked up over in either direction.
However, clearly a large number of people do strongly care about this issue, and eventually Ole Miss and the town around it are going to have to address the controversy and make a decision. This issue isn’t one where there are experts, it isn’t like energy or education policy where the average person is probably not qualified to be making decisions. Your feelings on public Confederate monuments are the main thing that goes into this debate, because symbols only have the meaning that we give them.
Since this issue is so emotional, I think the only way to settle it is for each locality to have a referendum on any controversial monuments. This way, we can give everyone the chance to express their opinion on the matter and ensure that the monuments do truly symbolize the people of that area.
Many states have laws making such monuments untouchable by locals and some towns have removed them without public knowledge. You can never make everyone happy, but referendum is the best way to minimize negative reactions from either side.
Morgan Dignowity is a junior philosophy and public policy leadership major from Olive Branch.