House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has advanced her effort to clear Capitol Hill of links to the Confederacy.
After announcing her desire to remove Confederate statues from the halls of Congress earlier this month, she instructed the clerk to remove four portraits from the building this week, the New York Post reported.
Amid widespread civil unrest and protests against racial inequality, new efforts to remove symbols and monuments from this period of American history have spread exponentially.
“Violent bigotry and grotesque racism”
Pelosi cited Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery, as the reason she decided the portraits of former House speakers with Confederate ties should come down.
“There is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy,” she said, according to the Post.
The portraits ordered removed from the Capitol included Robert Hunter of Virginia, Howell Cobb of Georgia, James Orr of South Carolina, and Charles Crisp of Georgia, the Post reports.
In some cases, protesters have moved beyond Confederate statues to deface and destroy monuments established for the nation’s slave-owning founding fathers. Portland, Oregon demonstrators toppled a statue of George Washington, which had been vandalized and set ablaze on Thursday evening, as CBS News reported.
“The very heart of our democracy”
In a letter this month to the bipartisan leaders of the Joint Committee on the Library, Pelosi renewed her 2017 call to remove statues depicting Confederate leaders.
“As I have said before, the halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy,” she said, according to The Hill. “The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation.”
While Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) applauded the initiative, he pointed out in his reply that the law dictates every state has the opportunity to select two statues to be displayed at the Capitol.
“Several states have moved toward replacing statues and others appear headed in the same direction,” he said, according to The Hill. “This process is ongoing and encouraging. As Speaker Pelosi is undoubtedly aware, the law does not permit the Architect of the Capitol or the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library to remove a statue from the Capitol once it has been received.”
Although the ongoing backlash against Confederate monuments has attracted widespread support, some critics see it as an attempt to rewrite history. Only time — and November’s election — will tell if Americans feel that Dems made the right decision.