By Robin Reid, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
I have to admit that I shuddered after reading Richard Merritt’s letter to the editor (“Change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway,” August 18) about banning Confederate statues and street names. His notions of promoting “diversity and inclusion” contained few reservations about sanitizing the city’s landmarks in the name of political correctness.
Alexandrians are not worshipping Confederate politicians and soldiers by remembering their bravery and loyalty in fighting against what many of them perceived to be federal tyranny, and it is ridiculous to judge those ancestors entirely in the context of modern moral codes or to suggest that courage, loyalty and sacrifice only existed on the side that won the Civil War.
As Merritt suggests, things are much more nuanced. But by his logic, on my next trip to Italy, I can feel morally confident in pulling down the statues and street signs bearing the names of Roman dignitaries who owned slaves, warred with other peoples and promoted the Roman Empire.
Hardly. To reiterate, we must be wary of erasing the historical presence of individuals and icons on the basis of ever-changing standards of morality and political correctness. We must be reluctant to do so because such a process will be both dishonest and unending.