tv Washington Journal Al Brophy on Efforts To Take Down Confederate Statues. CSPAN August 22, 2017 8:32am-9:01am EDT
doing security were people in the military and maybe banks. this is really a hobby. as the internet grew and there were jobs and there was money at risk, all of a sudden hackers started getting jobs insecurity. >> watch on c-span and at c-span.org. listen using the free c-span radio app. >> "washington journal" continues. host: joining us to continue our conversation on confederate monuments is professor al brophy. a recent piece of his has the title, why the case for the removal of confederate memorials is not so clear-cut. could you tell us why? guest: sure. i think the monuments are largely relics of the bad old days. i think it is important to leave them up so we understand and
remember that there were once people who were in charge in places like charlottesville and richmond, virginia, and towns throughout the south and north who wanted to celebrate the confederacy and the war fought to maintain slavery. host: aside from leaving them up, what do you think about of what is currently going on with dismantling the statues, and where do you think they should go if they are taken down, what is the best way to approach it? guest: a lot of great questions there. one thing that interests me about the last couple of weeks going back to may when the monuments and down in new orleans is how quickly public opinion has changed. those monuments have been up for 100 years or close to that. there was not a whole lot of agitation to move them down, and
then we saw how quickly public attitudes have changed. it is in some ways testimony to the idea that there is nothing so powerless as an idea whose time has passed. those public attitudes towards the confederacy has changed. it is shocking how much change been since the tragedy in charlottesville. it ar spence i thought phenomenal -- did a phenomenal job of making the case for taking them down. many people see them as vestiges of white supremacy. values.ize those i balance things a little differently. i think it is important to preserve those monuments on the landscape so that people
remember that there was once a celebration of the confederacy and the war fought to maintain slavery. look at the conversations we are having now about what the civil people weret, why putting these monuments of. that is a great conversation. that is a great opportunity for learning. i think that largely goes away once we take those monuments down. host: go ahead. likelyif as appears monuments are going to keep coming down, i suspect they will be falling all over the country very soon. then there is the question of what do you do with them and what do you do with the space those monuments once occupied. i have an article that suggests maybe we should put more humane statues in their place.
that celebrates some values other than war. what do you do with those statues once they are taken down? i am against taking them down. i think we need to contextualize them more. if you take them down, i think you need to preserve them somewhere to protect as much of the memory that during the dark years of jim crow segregation people throughout the country erected statues to confederate war heroes. host: what is the best way to contextualize them if they should stay up? guest: that's a great question. i love what happened in talbot , where on thend courthouse lawn there is a statue of frederick douglass, the great abolitionist. that is exactly what i want to do. we need to create a dialogue.
toglass and the monuments confederate soldiers are in dialogue. i think that is a brilliant idea. right behindents, the jefferson davis monument is the word love. there needs to be a sort of text associated with the monuments. the jefferson davis monument in richmond, virginia, make no reference to slavery. him as aabout defender of constitutionalism and the rights of states. idea of slavery having anything to do with the civil war. up, righthis was put at the turn of the 20th century, slavery was being erased from
the memory of the civil war. now we know more, and that is the kind of contextualization that invites discussion, not just a yes or no discussion to remove a statue. host: (202) 748-8001 for republicans. (202) 748-8000 for democrats. (202) 748-8002 for independents. our guest is al brophy, university of alabama school of law. moore, illinois. you're up first. caller: good morning. i agree with the professor that this should be a contextual issue. that is the point. this problem and the reason so many people voted for trump, including myself, was the fact
that i grew up with affirmative action. to give pay a price reparations to people that were suffering under jim crow and slavery legacy and so forth. if you want to solve this problem, you need to focus on the fact that when we go to of the some kind of ill past of this country, we never do it fairly. i would have been happy if they had tracked down these southern slaveholders and made their families pay for what they did. they came after me. my family never owned a slave. in fact, we fought to free them. that was my reward. that is why the context should containened and should some references to the fact that
we screw up time and time again when we tried to correct these ills of the past. host: thank you. we will let our guest response. guest: there is a lot in there. i would love to come back sometime and talk about the case for reparations for slavery and jim crow and affirmative action. that seems like a conversation we have to have some other time. if you're thinking about monuments, one of the things the caller thoughtfully and appropriately raised is what is the contextualization look like. his sense of how the monuments would be contextualized is probably different from mine. i would like to see the contextualization focus on who who dose monuments up, not have a say in putting them up. one thing that i think is salient is many of these
eraments were put up in an where the only people who could vote were white people, and in some instances only white men could go. we need contextualization of who say,hem up, who had a what they meant at the time, and how we now have a 360 degree view of what the confederacy was about. host: we will your next from new york, republican line, scott. go ahead. caller: thank you for c-span. i have a question for your guests. do you believe that these white nazimacist no -- groups will continue to protest the taking down of the statues? think some of them are getting sick and tired of feeling white guilt. you have lacked entertainment
television, the naacp, black history month. everything is geared towards the black community. there is no -- if you feel pride for being white, somehow you are automatically labeled as being a racist. host: professor, go ahead. guest: this is a wide-ranging discussion. i think i have to say i respectfully disagree with your suggestion that everything in american culture is oriented towards african-americans. i don't want to bring into much of the discussion of reparations and affirmative action, but one statistic, a third of african-american children live in poverty. about 10% of non-hispanic white children live in poverty. i think we can agree any children living in poverty is too many.
i think that has a lot to do with the legacy of jim crow more than slavery. jim crow limited educational, vocational, housing opportunities that were associated with state imposed segregation. trying to keep this conversation focused on monuments, i think your caller made a very important point that these monuments have in some cases become the rallying points for the neo-nazis, neo-confederates. that may well be a reason for taking them down. the tragedy of charlottesville, taking a step back, a young woman was murdered over a statue. if these are then going to be for whiteoints supremacists, i think that changes the balance and suggests
they should be taken down. they are not than historical relics of the past that are teaching us lessons, they become rally for sort of, of white supremacists. i think we need to be careful because it is not as though once we take the statues down, those ideas of white supremacy will go away. there may be other places those groups will be rallying, or they may be rallying at the base of the pedestal at the lee monument on confederate avenue. that they are rallying points has become a point for taking them down, but i am not sure that will solve all of the problems. host: stephanie from california is next. democrats line. caller: good morning. i do believe they should remove
the statues. they should remove the statues just like they got rid of affirmative action. they said we are post-racial because we have a black president in office. look at the disrespect. the racism is more apparent now. everybody feels like they have a right to show that they are racist because there is no repercussions for the racism. the question is, the people walking in those rallies, are they in any positions of power? are they part of the police force? where do these people come from? they did not just come from nowhere. there is still racism embedded in our economy, in our policies, and it should be addressed. affirmative action should be
revisited. thank you. host: professor brophy. guest: thanks very much. your opinionect that these statutes should be taken down. i understand that. a very important point you make is the effects, the lingering effects of jim crow continues today. i think that is why we should keep those monuments up. evidence ingible progress places best comment places inn prominent cities throughout the united states of jim crow segregation. when we take them down, it is much easier to forget that there were once people in charge who did not want african-americans to vote, who wanted segregation
education, schools, who celebrated the war to maintain slavery. i think you make an important case for continuing to keep up these tangible and important and significant reminders of the days of jim crow. host: the historian john meacham has an op-ed in the new york times this morning, talking about statues for washington and jefferson. these were largely creatures of their time and each believed in the transcended significance of the nation and believed in the journey to a more perfect union. by definition, the confederate hierarchy fail that test. those who took up arms for the confederacy were attempting to stop the american odyssey. what do you think of that? guest: i agree with that.
i am against taking any of these down. i think you need to preserve the historical record. if you are going to take any of these down, i found that cannot annotne taking down -- i c imagine taking down washington and jefferson. i have an op-ed making a similar for the distinction between washington who could have done more to end slavery, attempted to free some people via his will, could have but auld have done more, very different person from the confederate generals who took to the battlefield to preserve a republic based on slavery. i think those two things are very different. there are also questions about if you are going to start removing confederate statues,
which ones do you remove? i don't imagine you would be removing them from cemeteries. if you're going to start removing any statues, we have this question about which ones. we are going to be removing oncse -- ones that were soldiers.o honor one thing that is important to say is a number of southern states have preservation statues, north carolina, alabama, georgia, mississippi, virginia, they have statutes that prohibit taking down my meds without permission from the legislature. unc, my old institution, it looks as if the governor has just acquiesced to them taking down confederate monuments on
the unc campus. host: professor, what are your concerns, or do you see the possibility of a slippery slope when it comes to the removal of statues and calls by some to go to washington and jefferson and others? guest: i am not worried about that. it seems it has taken so much to get to the point that we want to take any statues down that it is going to be a very easy line to to heroesen statues of the confederacy and washington, jefferson. lester spence mentioned the statue to the chief justice of the author of the dreadful dread takendecision was just down in baltimore. if you are going to start taking statues down, he would be
someone you would put alongside some of the confederate generals. i am not a fan of taking them down. i think you contextualize them. i think a great counter monument would have been a monument to dred scott, the enslaved person who was claiming freedom and his case went to the supreme court to humbly ask for freedom. i think those kinds of counter monuments invite discussion. i think taking monuments down terminates discussion. host: our guest al brophy, his recent piece taking a look at why the removal for confederate statues is not so clear-cut. caller: i disagree with him. i think they should be taken down. you talk about jefferson and washington. that is a totally different
subject. what they are talking about is celebrating and honoring people that were murdering people because they were property. you are celebrating and honoring kidnapping,, extortion. it continues because we celebrate it. i am from the south. my family owned slaves. i am not proud of it. i think they ought to be taken down. i think it is terrible when a kid has to walk by it and look at it, and they honor this guy who is celebrating racism, not just racism, slavery. i think it is for rent this. -- horrendous. host: we will let our guest response. guest: i respect that opinion. i think stephanie from california had a similar
argument. i understand that. this is a decision that should be made by the local community. if they decide to take these monuments down, they should have the power to do that. i respect that decision. i think there is a significant danger that by taking them down we erase the memory of the era of jim crow. we run the risk of taking down these relics, and i think they are historical artifacts now. i don't see the lead monument -- richmond as an celebration of the confederacy. i think it is a monument that in 1890 one that was put up, there were lots of people in richmond who had power the wanted to celebrate the confederacy. i understand people may feel
differently. it is a moral and political decision. if the local community thinks this is doing more harm than good, they should be able to take those down. i am cautioning that there is a significant danger of historical forgetting by taking these down. host: georgia is next. michael, democrats line. caller: i would just like to say pedt the same people who clap when saddam hussein went down because he did that things in that country, they complained going down inue our country, the people doing that in our country. i'm so embarrassed that our president would be quite the kkk to the protesters, but he would --er eqauate the
keith,e will go next to florida, republican line. caller: good morning. welcome to america. caller, color -- president trump did not equate the moral equivalency between the two groups. he was equating the violence. both sides were violent. i had to say that. i don't understand how we got here. eight years ago we elected a black president twice. we have gone from being the greatest country and things like no gay marriage by the president elected at the time to where we are now. things are moving so fast. a lot of these people were not offended until they were told they were offended. i think it is a slippery slope.
your effort you contextualize these monuments. where i see america going is this conscious movement to divide this country. things are moving so fast. i don't understand it. why not go back all the way to the indians and give back the country to them? why not do reparations against japan and germany? when you spend all of your time trying to correct the past, you neglect the future. host: thank you. what about keith's statement that he bore not offended until they were told to be offended? guest: that suggests a level of conspiracy that i don't generally see in american politics. going back to michael's point from georgia, i can understand the idea, seeing a confederate
, it ist for many people a bitter pill to swallow. we need to balance the message these monuments may send to some people with the importance of historical memory. some years ago i was talking to a client, a case in a rural county in north carolina, and i said i have never been in this courthouse before, tell me what the atmosphere will be like. he said there is a confederate monument out front. that monument told her she was not going to get justice there that is probably not a message we want to be sending to litigants who go to courthouses who seek equal treatment and justice. we need to balance these considerations.
to go back to michael's comment from georgia, people celebrated taking down the saddam hussein monuments in 2003 in iraq. tore down the statue of george the third at the beginning of the revolution. those monuments were serving temporary political purposes. i see these monuments as historical relics. it may be that they are rallying points for was from, and the case may be much stronger for taking them down. host: what are you looking for specifically as far as the future of whether monuments stay or go or the extent to what monuments stay or go? guest: it is really interesting. this is yet another moment on the 2016 election. i have no idea what is coming next. things are just moving so quickly. near-term, what we
will see is a lot more monuments coming down on college campuses and cities around the united states. i suspect we will begin to drop line, monuments museums, then i hope we will get some other counter monuments. i hope we will see other monuments going up. more important than taking something down or leaving it up is the discussion of our nation's past and how the passes connected to the present -- the past is connected to the present. host: our guest, al brophy of the university of alabama school of law. how did you become interested in this topic? guest: it is really interesting. i write largely on race in
american legal history. i work on proslavery thought in the southern academy and judiciary. i am interested in how people fo ught at the time and how we have remember that -- remembered that, monuments in cemeteries, gettysburg, and how we remember the war north and south. i always enjoy when i go to north ands in towns south to visit the civil war monuments. host: thank you for your time. a pro forma session of the house takes place right now.