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Protesters try to tear down statue of Andrew Jackson
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

The list of statues that have been defaced or torn down increases each week. What started a few years ago as an attempt to remove a few statues after an extended political debate has obviously spun out of control.

What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Cervantes, Voltaire, and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn have in common? Not much. But that is just a small representation of statues that have been defaced or pulled down. Then there is the defacing of abolitionist Matthias Baldwin and the recent toppling of the statue of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglas. There is no consistency in anything these mobs are doing in the streets today.

While irrational people in the streets are tearing down statues and monuments, perhaps it is time for some of us more rational citizens to begin to think through what figures in the public square are appropriate or inappropriate.

I think we can all agree that a leader who has consistently engaged in evil acts should not be memorialized. Adolf Hitler was an evil man. So was Joseph Stalin. We don’t want statues of them in this country or any other. But I am still wondering how a statue of Vladimir Lenin ended up in the Seattle’s Freemont neighborhood.

Every group of heroes will have some flaws. Every leader will have flaws. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Fallen heroes and fallen leaders still deserve to be honored. When men and women have failed, they deserve to be forgiven. Michael Brendan Dougherty reminds us that the beautiful sculpture of Michelangelo’s David stands in Florence not “as a tribute or endorsement of the murder of Uriah the Hittite. Just as George Washington’s name does not grace our capital city or the names of our schools because he owned slaves.”

A statue or memorial can honor people without it excusing their flaws. viewpoints new web version

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