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It has not aged well, turning from shades of white to brown as decades have gone by.While the government (and, increasingly, private initiatives) pours money into conserving these places, city tour companies train their guides to peel back all of the layers of the morally complicated history for visitors.In some cases, the wartime damage did 90 percent of the job.And yet this near-total destruction did little to prevent the neo-Nazis and revisionists from reorganizing.
Instead, the processing of history is like an open wound that slowly heals only with careful debate about the often-explosive issues at stake.
In some cases, state or local authorities have driven the process.
Yet despite the growing consensus that the “dangerous totems” (as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has dubbed them) must go, there is no agreement about the monuments’ fates.
In the cacophony of opinions, few observers and participants seem bothered by the lack of a coherent, thought-out strategy for disposing of the Confederacy’s visible traces while preserving evidence of this vitally important chapter of our past. Not out of concern for the preposterous right-wing lament about the erasure of history, but because the task at hand is to purge the imagery in a way that guards against amnesia, while also transforming the statues from celebratory monuments to objective evidence.
The United States is not alone in confronting this dilemma.
Countries across the globe routinely grapple with how to handle reminders of unsavory chapters in their history.