Democrat Calls Old Town Confederate Memorial ‘Problematic’

Statues, iPhone apps, street signs targeted for removal across the country

Appomatox statue

Appomatox statue / Wikimedia Commons

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Update 9:39 A.M.: Following publication of this article, Councilman Wilson told the Free Beacon, "Any removal of the memorial would require action by the General Assembly. I think the memorial would be very appropriate in one of the city's museums, and not in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.

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A Confederate statue in Alexandria, Va., is the latest memorial associated with the Civil War to be branded "problematic" by Democrats.

Alexandria Councilman Justin Wilson (D.) hinted Thursday that the Appomattox statue at the intersection of Washington and Prince Streets in Old Town should be removed.

"I think there's an appropriate context that we have to place that history in, and I think there's a lot of folks who don't feel like a statue honoring that cause is the appropriate place for that," Wilson told NPR News station WMAU. "The nature of that memorial and the glorification of that cause I think is problematic."

Wilson has previously championed bringing bike share to the city, and fought against pole signs. He also auctioned off a one-hour run with him to raise money for the Alexandria Democratic Committee and is bad at ping-pong.

Wilson did not return request for comment on whether Civil War battlefields in Manassas, Va., are also "problematic" because of the Confederate’s victories at the first and second battles of Bull Run or whether he would pursue an ordinance to have the Appomattox statue removed.

The Appomattox statue was erected in 1889 to honor Confederate soldiers from Alexandria who died in the war. The statue, based on the painting "Appomattox," depicts a lone soldier looking defeated after the Confederate surrender by General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865.

Alexandria wanted to remain in the Union in 1861, but voted to secede after the battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Appomattox statue is located in the middle of Washington Street in Old Town, said to be the spot where Alexandria troops left to join Confederate forces on May 24, 1861.

The call for the destruction of historical Civil War memorials and the purging of anything to do with the Confederacy have burgeoned since the murders of nine African American church-goers in Charleston, S.C., last week by a racist 21-year-old.

Politicians and the media turned the murders into a debate over the Confederate flag, which the killer was seen displaying in photographs. Lawmakers across the political spectrum denounced the flag, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R.) called for the flag to be removed from her state’s capitol grounds.

However, the Confederate flag was only the first item on the list, as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart announced they would no longer sell any merchandise with Confederate symbols.

A film critic opined that the highest grossing film of all time, Gone With the Wind, which was responsible for the first black actor winning an Oscar, should "go the way of the Confederate flag."

Apple then removed all of its Civil War games from the App Store on the grounds that the Confederate flag, which is used to show one of the two sides fighting each other in the games, is "offensive and mean-spirited."

Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for tearing down a statue of Robert E. Lee and said he was open to changing "statues, monuments, street names, and more" symbols of the Civil War to "see if they still have relevance to our future."

Some have suggested that the Jefferson Memorial could be next.

"It’s not just the flag. Now it’s going to be we can't honor Robert E. Lee," Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol remarked on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday. "What about the Confederate monuments at Arlington? Is that inappropriate? What about the Confederate statues at Gettysburg?"

"Bill, those historic monuments and statues, that is clearly history," host Mika Brzezinski said. "Flying a flag is today. Selling it in Walmart is today. It’s different, and you know it."

Elizabeth Harrington   Email Elizabeth | Full Bio | RSS
Elizabeth Harrington is a senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for CNSNews.com. Her email address is elizabeth@freebeacon.com. Her Twitter handle is @LizWFB.

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