Sen. Alexander: Tearing down Andrew Jackson’s statute a misunderstanding of history

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WASHINGTON (WATE) – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee reacted Tuesday to efforts by protesting in Lafayette Square to pull down a statute of Tennessee native and seventh president Andrew Jackson.

“We should not try to erase our history,” Alexander said. “We should not try to pretend it doesn’t exist,”

Protesters tied ropes to the statue across from the White House on Monday night and attempted to pull it off its pedestal before police moved in. The word “Killer” was spraypainted on the base.

“Presidential historians almost without exception put Andrew Jackson in the top ten of America’s presidents,” Alexander said. “They see him as a sophisticated, often subtle political actor who without his devotion to the union, against his own local political interests, the union might well have fallen apart in 1832 or 1833.

A presidential helicopter, the Washington Monument, and the White House are visible behind a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Washington, with the word “Killer” spray painted on its base. Protesters tried to topple the statue Monday night. President Tump had tweeted late Monday that those who tried to topple the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House faced 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Jackson wasn’t born rich. He wasn’t born to privilege. He fought for everything he had, and he rose to our government’s highest office through the sheer force of personality and political courage. That is the case for Andrew Jackson.”

Alexander added that Jackson was undeniably not perfect.

“In fact, he was at the center of the two original sins of this country – slavery and the treatment of Native Americans,” he said. “But if we’re looking for perfection, we’re not likely to find it in American history or the history of almost any country or in human nature. What do we do about Thomas Jefferson, who only freed those slaves that he fathered with his slave mistress?

“What we do about George Washington and Mount Vernon, and the slaves that he owned? What do we do about Abraham Lincoln, who some people say was slow to act on emancipation? What about Franklin D. Roosevelt and his internment of Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II?”

“We should not try to erase our history. We should not try to pretend it doesn’t exist. We shouldn’t ignore our history,” Alexander said. “Doing any of this would be a terrible misunderstanding of American history and of human nature.”

“Here’s what I think we should do. No. 1, as I said earlier, recognize that it’s always appropriate to review the places that we have named or the monuments that we’ve put up in the context of today’s times. No. 2, with a history that includes mistakes we today abhor, we should try to learn from those mistakes and build a better future.

“We need to be honest about our weaknesses. We need to be proud of our strengths. We need to learn from both to create a better future for the United States of America.”

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