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To the Editor:Re “Reconsidering the Past, One Statue at a Time” (front page, June 17):As someone who has published revisionist history pieces, I find the debate over preserving our “history” fascinatingly disturbing.Most telling was this quote from Trip Hairston, a white county supervisor in Mississippi who opposed removing the monument to Confederate soldiers: “I don’t agree with all that history, of course, but it is what it is — it’s history.” Robert E. Lee himself said in 1869, “I think it wiser … 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.” So even Lee would have wanted a statue of himself pulled down.What history does Mr. Hairston — or others citing history as their defense — think he is learning? Surely not one about heroic sons of the South. The Civil War was about treason and protecting the horrendous institution of slavery. And these monuments were mostly erected by white supremacists during the Jim Crow era to intimidate African-Americans in their communities.If we learn anything from that history, it is to eradicate images of hate and oppression, not to glorify them. A history warped by the white victors of racism isn’t what our country needs to perpetuate.James Berkman
BostonTo the Editor:The time has come for honesty about the Confederacy and what it stood for. Here is a suggestion: Print the racist words from the Cornerstone Speech of Alexander H. Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, in which he said that “its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Ask those public figures who want to commemorate the Confederacy if they really want to commemorate those beliefs.The attempts to whitewash what the Confederacy stood for will hopefully be ended after people read the speech. I mean no disrespect to those who died in the Civil War. My mother came from the South. But we must put the Confederacy in its true light. America would not commemorate any country today that professed such ideas. Respect those who died, but do not celebrate their beliefs with statues.Carla Van Cleave
Portland, Ore.To the Editor:As a (fairly) proud Italian-American in my eighth decade, I propose that we swap out Columbus Day for a national holiday on Juneteenth. It seems to me that Columbus Day gets a halfhearted two cheers at best. Millions of people go to work and school that day, so why not just get with the program and create an annual Emancipation Day holiday and put Columbus Day in the dustbin of history?David Martocci
Interlaken, N.J.To the Editor:In line with the widespread movement to address public monuments that symbolize racism and oppression, when is New York City finally going to do the right thing and remove the horribly offensive statue of Teddy Roosevelt on city-owned land at the entrance to the Museum of Natural History? A white man is on horseback with a Native American man and an African man walking behind him.How has such a shamelessly bigoted monument survived in one of the most diverse cities on the planet?I love the museum. It’s an incredible institution. But walking past this jarring tribute to imperialism is always a low point of my visits. The museum has sponsored an exhibit and some discussion about it recently, but what’s needed is meaningful action. Replace it with a symbol of diversity, science, the planet. Better late than never.Joshua Barnett

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