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Charlottesville About More Than Just Statues

The violence in Charlottesville was not about whether or not a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee should stay or go, but it was about “hatred, bigotry and murder” from people coming in from out of state, Sen. Tim Kaine said Monday.

“It if was just about statues, we wouldn’t be talking about it,” the Virginia Democrat and 2016 vice-presidential candidate told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Kaine noted that as mayor of Richmond and Virginia’s governor, he had to grapple with the idea of removing statues, and he believes that subtraction is one thing, but it’s also important to add history as well.

“[When] I was mayor, we had to knock down two bridges that were kind of defunct, they were old and named after Civil War generals,” said Kaine. “We rebuilt them and named them after civil rights heroes. We put up new statues to [Abraham] Lincoln celebrating his visit to Richmond, after the fall of Richmond.”

The monuments that were already there were also protected, said Kaine, but “we thought, let’s fill out the story of who Richmond and Virginia is.”

He does, however, think there are probably some statutes that need to come down, and when it comes to Lee, the former Confederate general himself had said he did not want monuments to the confederacy, as the war was over.

Kaine also questioned some of the monuments that remain in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

“Every state gets two statues, and you get to pick two people to represent the entire scope of your state,” said Kaine. “Virginia has George Washington. That’s an obvious one. But since 1909, number two is Robert E. Lee.”

There are so many others who could represent Virginia, said Kaine, that he questions whether in 2017, it would really be Lee that stands for Virginia.

The Statuary Hall monuments were designed to be removed over time, said Kaine, and many states are grappling with who should stay.

In Virginia we’re history obsessed,” said Kaine. “Why did the four years of the Civil War merit so much more attention than 250 years of blood sacrifice by hundreds and thousands of slaves who built up our state and lived and died in our state and sold in our state, and aren’t recognized virtually anywhere?”

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