Permanently drape the statue
My wife, Jill, and I have longtime ties to Charlottesville, so we watched with horror and sadness as the white supremacist violence played out on the news. Last weekend we were back downtown and could not help visiting the park where the statue of General Robert E. Lee stands shrouded in black tarpaulins. We watched dozens of visitors photographing the draped statue with the air of pilgrims approaching a shrine—not to the dead Confederate general but to the memory of Heather Heyer and the other victims of the attack. Rather than take down the statue, why not commission an artist to cover it with a permanent drape of black metal—memorializing the decision of a decent community to rid itself of a symbol of white supremacy? It would be both a political statement—as the original statue was—and an artistic one as well. The resulting work of art would be powerful—both abstract and representational of the deeper racism hidden below the surface of American life that all too often rears its ugly head. The draped statue would consign the symbolic general to oblivion and at the same time remind us to be forever vigilant of what lurks beneath that drape. A plaque could start this intention and memorialize Ms. Heyer and the other victims, and the black drape would forever signify our collective grief.
Wilmington, North Carolina