Friday, December 07, 2012

Dixie State College in Utah removes Confederate statue.

Dixie State College in Utah has removed a Confederate statue from their campus.

There are a couple articles online about it:

It is interesting to note the college administration's justification. Quoting from the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article, 12/6/2012:

As a staging area for recent anti-racism rallies, it has become vulnerable, and putting it in storage is the best way to protect it for now, according to Dixie State President Stephen Nadauld. 
"The statue has become a lighting rod. We feel bad about that," Nadauld said. "It’s a beautiful piece of art. We are nervous something might happen to the statue. It might be vandalized."

Actually the reason for the statues removal is that the college is slated to become a university and many are concerned about what the image of the university will be. The concern isn't just the statue, but also the term "Dixie" in the colleges name. From the Tribune article:

A growing chorus — which includes student body president Brody Mikesell, a senior from Henefer, and former trustee chairman Shan Gubler — is lobbying to drop or downplay the Dixie name, arguing that its associations with the Confederacy will alienate the larger audience the college aspires to reach as a university.
The university president isn't willing to say the Confederacy was wrong. Nor it seems that Mikesell or Gubler are willing to say the Confederacy is wrong. The reason given is that it will alienate others who for some reason not given don't like the Confederacy.

Quoting from the USA Today article:
The discussion to remove the statue began once administrators became aware of the "people with issues with it being on our campus," Johnson said.
What issues might those be? The articles leave it as a mystery. It is something to do with feelings, reducing it to an emotional issue and not a critical or rational assessment of the Confederacy. From the USA Today article.
"I think it's a big day in Dixie's history. It's a positive sign that we're moving forward," mass communications student Ryan Mayfield said. "I think if we're going to be a university we need to cater to everyone's feelings, not just the community."
So the statue is going down, but it seems from the article, no one in the administration or those leading the effort are willing to criticize the Confederacy though they obviously don't want to be associated with the Confederacy. So there are all these reasons to remove the statue, to protect the statue, the feelings of others. Though whose feelings they are concerned about isn't mentioned, I think it is obviously they are concerned about minority members, and this argument reduces minorities' opposition to the Confederacy from a rational opposition to "feelings."

It seems that people more and more realize that the Confederacy was a bad thing and don't want to be associated with it, but they also don't want to get neo-Confederates riled up and those who buy into the Lost Cause mythology of history riled up. So everyone working to remove it, is giving other reasons, so they can minimize being a target of Lost Cause anger. The president removes the statue to protect it, which shows a president that gives in to intimidation when protecting free speech. His reason is really quite reprehensible if people thought about it. However, he can't say the Confederacy was a bad thing and their is no way we want to celebrate it without bring down the wrath of Lost Cause supporters everywhere.

However, in the end, the statue is packed away and not on public land where it valorized the Confederacy. Dixie State College will likely lose the word "Dixie" and Confederate memorialization will be further contained in the former slave states.
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