Gov. Hutchinson says dismantling Confederate monuments would be a 'mistake'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Many across the country are renewing a push for the removal of Confederate monuments following the violence in Charlottesville where a group of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists protested the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

The response to the public outcry has varied across the United States. In Baltimore, the city council voted to remove four Confederate statues, while officials with the Gettysburg National Military Park said they didn't have future plans to remove any monuments.

But here in Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson thinks removing these monuments would be a mistake. Earlier this year, Hutchinson led the charge to separate the state's observations of Martin Luther King Day and Robert E. Lee Day.

He said in a statement following the Charlottesville violence that history cannot be changed, but we can learn from it.

"We should not start taking down monuments just because they remind us of an unpleasant past," Hutchinson said. "Refusing to face our history by dismantling it is a mistake."

Hutchinson said that historical markers should be used as "teaching opportunities to provide greater leadership for the future."

But the general that was at the center of the violent protests opposed Confederate monuments being built.

"I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered," he said in response to a proposed Gettysburg memorial in 1869.

In an interview with PBS Newshour, Johathan Horn, the author of Lee's biography, "The Man Who Would Not Be Washington," said that Lee believed that countries which "erased visible signs of civil war" were quicker to recover from the division created.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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