G1 Class 3.1

Jul 17

The Weight of History

Today's class asks you to read two think pieces on the problem of Confederate Monuments in the US. The first, a keynote speech by Ibram Kendi, builds on an argument familiar from our discussion this past week, that monuments to hatred have no place in public spaces because they cause psychic harm to the objects of that hate. To substantiate that hatred, Kendi dives deep into post-Civil-War history.

The second, an opinion piece by NYTimes art critic Holland Cotter, acknowledges the good intentions of those who would pull down monuments to hatred, but sees uncomfortable parallels to other moments in history when regimes have attempted to wipe out the past by destroying monuments. (Here's a pdf of Cotter's piece, if you can't access it on the NYTimes site.)

If you were the judge between these two eloquent orators, what judgement would you give—and what principle(s) would you adduce to justify your position? Try to keep your response short—but do respond the the specifics of both men's arguments.

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