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Ross: Removing a statue reflects a changed opinion

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo ruled to indefinitely extend an injunction preventing the Virginia governor from removing a historic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's famed Monument Avenue. (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images)

The President has cast himself as the defender of statues: “Our past is not a burden to be cast away.”

No indeed. But taking down a statue doesn’t erase our past. It’s more a reflection of changing opinions about who was on the right side of history.

What does a statue say – it says “this person deserves your admiration – that’s why he’s 10 feet tall and waterproof.”

But opinions change on what’s appropriate for pubic display.

I used to wonder why Greek and Roman sculptors felt compelled to replace private parts with fig leaves.

But of course, it was the church in the middle ages that applied the genital vegetation. Naked genitals represented sin to them.

Well, today we know that many confederate statues were actually fig leaves for the confederate cause – intended to HIDE history.

Now, should they be pulled down by a mob? No, I would prefer that elected representatives had them removed by politically-neutral heavy machinery.

But I don’t see anything radical about a new generation choosing who gets to be a hero. Their choices may also be pulled down one day. We examine the past to explain the present, so history will always be political.

We all claim to want the truth – but nations, being comprised of human beings, will always feel the urge to hide their private parts.

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