Unlike most important governmental decisions that demand compromise, the issue of keeping the Talbot’s Confederate monument where it stands or removing it, I believe, cannot be solved by compromise. As far as I understand physics, it is not possible to “partially remove” a monument. It either stays or it goes; there’s no in-between.
Many of Talbot County’s citizens, as well as some members of the Talbot County Council, have searched and continue to search for creative ways to solve this problem. They hope to find some middle ground that would be not totally acceptable to either side, but would be something that both sides could eventually live with. It is a noble venture, but I don’t think it will ever happen. Why? Because I believe this is a moral issue of right and wrong, and in matters of right and wrong, I’m afraid, there are no gray areas in between. The fact that a previous council would only approve a statue of Frederick Douglass, its most famous son, if it were no taller than the Confederate statue nearby, (clearly that county council’s attempt at compromise), speaks volumes.
Here is my moral argument: If this monument, a “Lost Cause” symbol of the Confederate states’ attempt to leave the Union and to protect their privileged white citizens’ right to own slaves, were located in a park, in a cemetery, or on a museum’s grounds, I don’t believe there would be the strong desire from citizens to have it removed. But it is at the entrance to a house of justice that makes it for many an object of hypocrisy and shame! History has made it clear that there was no justice in the South during its two-hundred plus years of slavery for the majority of its population, and sadly, there continues to be little justice for Black citizens from the end of the Civil War until today. That is one of the reasons for the Black Lives Matter movement that we are witnessing now.
Most of us who want the monument removed have come to this decision mainly because of where the monument is located. If council members could find it a home somewhere else in the county, we would be satisfied. We don’t want it to be destroyed and we don’t want to erase history as many have claimed; we just want it moved elsewhere! For me, one solution would be to move it to the Talbot County Historical Society’s garden where the appropriate historical plaques, written by respected historians, would surround it, so that it could be an educational tool for young students studying that period of American history. This is exactly what many cities in the South, including Richmond, Charleston, Atlanta, and Savannah, have chosen to do with their Confederate statues in order to help further educate their visitors as well as their own citizens.
I realize this is not an easy decision or a popular one for many of Talbot County citizens, but I feel moving it from the court house grounds is the only answer that makes sense. Ultimately, this needs to be understood by our elected county leaders and for them to act. No one else can move it for them.