Otis Sanford: Justifications for keeping statues ‘do not hold water’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The constant talking points used to justify keeping Confederate monuments standing in public parks go something like this.

Memphis already has enough problems to deal with including crime, poverty, failing schools and crumbling roads to be spending time and energy on statues of dead men.

Other supporters of the monuments keep insisting that they represent heritage and not hate. Taking them down would amount to a shameful attempt to erase history.

We have heard these arguments for years and they have been effective in causing the ultra-conservative Tennessee legislature and the Tennessee Historical Commission to meddle in local government decisions by blocking the removal of Confederate symbols from city-owned parks.

But the talking points simply do not hold water.

Yes, Memphis is saddled with crime, poverty and poor performing schools, but the community continues to address those problems in numerous ways that are both seen and unseen.

None of that has anything to do with the legitimate effort to relocate monuments that honor racial oppression, white supremacy and the South's lost cause in the Civil War.

No one is suggesting that the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Robert E. Lee be destroyed or put permanently in a warehouse, but they no longer deserve to be standing in parks financed by Memphis taxpayers.

I encourage city leaders as they work on other issues to continue the fight to take them down.