I’ve written about winning an essay contest when I was in college in which I argued that we should keep teaching texts that contain disturbing content, but not to support or glorify this information but to make sure that this is not hidden or whitewashed. It was and still is important to me that no one should forget history–even literary history. Always know what has been popular or acceptable–for good or ill. It informs your understanding of how cultures evolve and groups dominate.
I do want to revisit what I just noted: That preserving the information should not be to glorify or support the negative. The awareness of this negativity should be for educational purposes. It should not be meant to continue victimization.
With this in mind, the removing of publicly displayed historical emblems that glorify those who openly fought for causes that supported oppression is a service to citizens, not a revision of history. Now, if we removed all references to the Civil War from textbooks or did not show the images of participants on both sides, we would be doing a disservice to history and to future generations who need to know the full story, from both sides. This is the only way to understand how any war or treaty is formed.
No one is asking any publishers to remove people like Robert E. Lee from the textbooks. We just don’t want to see him in bronze anywhere–outside of a museum exhibit maybe where the theme is related to the topic of misplaced investment in glorification or political monuments through the centuries. That would then be educational and voluntary viewing. Again: Adjusting the perspective is not necessarily revisionist–it is a corrective action that enables everyone to learn full content in the correct context.
There is an Opinion piece in the New York Times by Caroline Randall Williams titled “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body is a Confederate Monument.” (https://nyti.ms/383rugG) that addresses this very concept. She and others like Playon Patrick, a young poet among other accomplishments for one so young (2020 Quarantine Killings https://youtu.be/FpFbBuZi2sM), are restoring the balance, the record, to reflect a truth that has existed and has been known but has not been fully understood or, frankly, cared about by many. I’m grateful to be able to learn what I did not know to look for, and to learn it both subjectively and objectively. I am grateful to receive this in such a masterful presentation that humbles me as a writer.