Some of our monuments (and street names, and regional city and county names) reflect past evils, evils that we must own. How do we as a community acknowledge the evil? “Put ’em in a museum” has been a much heard suggestion for the offending Castleman monument (and others). Before embracing this concept as a reasonable solution, we need to ask a few questions.
Will housing offending monuments in a museum or a cemetery be less offensive than housing a monument on the grounds of the library?
Did removing the monument to dead Confederate soldiers appease the offended?
Will removing Castleman appease?
Will removing George Prentice?
Assuming that many monuments will need to be moved, how big will this museum need to be?
Who will build it?
Who will finance it?
Will public funds be used to move, house and maintain the offending monuments?
How acceptable to the offended will using public funds be?
Who will maintain it?
Where will it be located?
Will the monuments still offend?
Will they continue to be vandalized?
Who wants the liability of housing the offending monuments?
These monuments are not safe from vandals, not in a museum, not in a cemetery, in a library, in a public park or in a traffic circle. They are safest in context. Put them in context with plaques that redefine the monuments. It might be appropriate to put them in context by leaving the vandal’s paint on the monument. Having the community draft the redefining text of new plaques should be healing. If nothing else, it will unmask the extremes.