Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., where a car mowed through a crowd protesting against neo-Nazis and other “alt-right” demonstrators, has renewed focus on white supremacists and, more specifically, the role Confederate monuments play as rallying points. In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, Baltimore; Richmond, Va.; Dallas; and Lexington, Ky., are now debating removing their Confederate monuments. Simply put, the protesters argue that history matters and that the symbolism of the past has resonance today.
Make no mistake: The issue surrounding Confederate symbolism is different than efforts at Yale University and elsewhere to rename buildings and to remove statues, stained glass windows, and artwork. The issue at hand is not a refusal to judge historical figures by the standards of their time, but rather the symbolism driving or representing a political movement.
How ironic it is, then, that the same stigma (rightly) attached to Confederate symbolism is strangely absent with regard to communist symbolism.