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Thousands of Americans marched in Charlottesville to protect a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. By the end of the weekend, 30 people were injured, and one had died.

A debate rages in America as to whether or not to take down Confederate statues. Many, including President Trump and Vice President Pence, believe that doing so would erase our country’s history. Trump has asked where we should we draw the line—if we take down statues of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, why should we not remove statues of former slave-owners Washington or Jefferson?

The difference is that monuments of figures such as Robert E. Lee are not celebrations of American history. Many of them were built with the express purpose of intimidating and suppressing African-Americans.

Monuments commemorate historical role models for us look up to, yet Confederate generals and other individuals who condoned slavery and represent post-Civil War segregation and oppression are not figures of national veneration. If the statues are meant to preserve history, they would be in a museum rather than towering over the people they oppressed.

White supremacists erected these monuments to broadcast their superiority during times of exacerbated racial tension and great social change. Many of these statues were created right after the enactment of the Jim Crow laws and again in the mid 1950s, in reaction to the growing Civil Rights Movement. In the past, these statues have acted as prime locations for rallies organized by white supremacist groups.

Furthermore, the Confederacy itself was not an American institution. In fact, it was the exact opposite. It was an anti-American rebellion with slavery as its cornerstone. Many supporters of Confederate statues ignore this fact by insisting that they are simply showcasing their Southern pride rather than condoning slavery or racism. By celebrating the Confederacy, Southerners are celebrating its values.

Section 9 of the Confederate Constitution protected the right to own and trade slaves, stating that “no bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in Negro slaves shall be passed.” In other words, no law that threatened slavery in any way could be passed because that would have opposed Confederate ideals.

Today we find ourselves at a time of great national division. If we continue to preserve the remnants of Confederate beliefs, we will never progress as a society. No American should glorify one of the deepest divisions and most shameful chapters in our nation’s history.