A Trump-appointed judge lifted an injunction against removing the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, leaving conservatives seething online as Defense Department contractors pulled down the statue today.
The Confederate Memorial, which was put up by Confederate veterans organizations in the late 19th Century, is being removed as part of an initiative by the Department of Defense to purge the U.S. military of Confederate iconography. According to a commission convened by the Pentagon after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 by a policeman in Minnesota, the monument is the last significant item on a list of monuments and streets to be renamed or removed.
“[A] giant crane has just removed the Confederate Memorial at Arlington Cemetery,” posted reporter Andrew Leyden on X on Wednesday morning.
Conservatives online took all sorts of stances as to why the removal of the statue was bad, from comparing the removal of statues to actions by ISIS or the Nazis, or acting like it was ironic that the statue was being removed ostensibly on the orders of the Democratic Party because of historical links of the Democrats to the Confederacy.
“The #irony here… Democrats removing a monument dedicated to Democrat Rebels reconciling with the Republican Union,” commented @TweetShaming21.
The American South was traditionally the bastion of the Democratic Party and many prominent figures of the Confederacy had once been members. But after Lyndon Johnson, himself a Southern Democrat, passed civil rights legislation in the 60s, many Southern whites shifted their allegiance to the Republican party at the national level, following suit at the state and local level in the mid-90s.
“Also Nazis tore down statues,” posted @PATRICKHENRY97 above a meme showing Adolf Hitler.
“America’s WOKE Military Can’t Win Wars, But Can Tear Down Statues,” read another meme shared by @MAGA_Ranger.
Other posters predicted that removing the statue would cost the Democrats at the polls.
“I estimate that removing the statue from Arlington National should cost democrats at least 40 million votes!” augured @JohnMcD88891425.
“It is a shame to remove history but that is what this new Biden government is all about,” said @WilliamDavidW12. “We got to learn from history not destroy it.”
The monument, which was ostensibly erected to secure burial rights for veterans of the Confederate Army in the Arlington National Cemetery, which traditionally holds U.S. Army veterans, was criticized and chosen for removal because of its contribution to the “Lost Cause” narrative about the Civil War. According to that interpretation of history, the Confederacy was a noble struggle against an oppressive federal government, and the atrocities of slavery are downplayed and distorted.
“It speaks volumes that the neo-Confederate crowd chose to embrace a memorial, that mythologizes and dehumanizes African Americans, as a symbol of reconciliation that *they* could rally around in 2023,” commented Kevin Levin, a historian of the Civil War. “And they wonder why they lost…again.”