The novel Fatherland by Robert Harris, presents an alternative history of World War Two. By 1964, the Germans rule most of Europe. The new image that the Nazis want to project is a benign one. They decide to destroy all evidence of the Final Solution. All the concentration camps are destroyed, and anyone associated with its implementation is eliminated. In short, the Nazis try to erase their own history.
I bring this up because of the current upheaval going on in the US. The recent tragedy of the death and injuries in Charlottesville, but the wider question about removing statues from Confederate period in the South. Should statues of generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson be taken down? Yes, they fought on the Southern side in the Civil War to preserve the way of life, especially the institution of slavery, but they are part of American history, like it or not. Robert E Lee is as much part of American history as John F Kennedy or Abraham Lincoln.
Removing them does not erase them for history,just because White Supremacists/Nationalists/ Klansmen celebrate them as heroes. You place these statues in their historical context and educate people about what happened when man forgets basic humanity and decency. The statues are symbols of America's racist past, a past that we can all learn from. Once you take down statues, what next? Destroy all the plantation houses built as a result of slavery? That would include houses in the North as well as the South. Slavery was not just a Southern preserve. You will go down a slippery slope of removing items from you past that make you feel uncomfortable or do not suit the current trend.
In hundred years from now, what symbol today will we deem to unacceptable? Last week, I visited the city of Bristol in England, which was once a port used to transport slaves from Africa. The city's wealth was built on the slave trade. This fact is now acknowldeged and accepted. There are museums that record and illustrate this aspect of the city's history. I have been to Harpers Ferry in Virginia, and there are still advertisements and notices about slaves for sale. I hope they stay there forever.
If you start destroying or erasing your past because, it is no longer fashionable or does not suit the current mood, aren't you destoying your own cultural history? That's what vandals like the Taliban and ISIS do in Syria and Iraq. Surely, we don't agree with them, do we?