A friend asked my opinion on the events in Charlottesville and Durham, I think what I wrote is important, I wanted to share more broadly:
Political opinions/views aside, at worst, the toppling of the Durham statue is vandalism and if you told me they found whoever pulled it down and fined them, I mean okay, I'm sure there are many people willing to foot that bill.
That said, I am in favor of tearing down all Confederate monuments. The Confederates were traitors (they were called Rebels, after all) and there was nothing romantic about the CSA. It has long boggled my mind how we as a Nation glorify the CSA, mostly to appease the South. It's an important part of our history, yes, but the CSA betrayed the Union and lost. Racism is in America's DNA, our two greatest sins (treatment of Natives and slavery) are deeply rooted in racism and when you break down everything (especially economics, healthcare etc) racism is a major factor.
The "Stars and Bars" for example are a symbol of white nationalism. It's not heritage, it's racism pure and simple. For example, when I go to Central NY State, or as I call it "The Deep North" and see Confederate flags... there's nothing about heritage to it.
Which of course brings me to the Nazis. There is just no place for that in America or the world. Sure, views and speech are protected under the First Amendment, but you have to be a special kind of asshole to affiliate with any type of Nazism. America's role as "leader of the free world" is a direct result of fighting back the Nazis on the Western Front. There is NOTHING patriotic about being a white nationalist, a Confederate sympathizer or a Nazi. What happened in Charlottesville changed the game. It's not about right or left anymore, and that needs to be made clear. It's about hate vs. acceptance.
For the most part, "left" protests - the Women's March, anti-Trump rallies and yes, Black Lives Matter, are peaceful protests, with real, meaningful issues at stake such as equality and basic human rights. There will always be those who take advantage of certain situations, but for the most part, protesters in these scenarios don't get violent without real provocation.
In Charlottesville, the white nationalists wanted violence, they came decked out with makeshift riot shields and armor. The Tiki Torch bullshit was akin to a Klan gathering. And it was a white nationalist, fueled by this pure hate that used an ISIS tactic and plowed a car into a crowd killing a woman. It's the NRA calling for violence in the streets against protesters and the perceived "left" which is anyone who disagrees with a certain point of view. It's far-right Republicans who want to suppress protest, and Fox News and fringe pundits who have called for people to run down protesters. So I really don't care if people - especially a mostly young and diverse group - want to tear down some statues that fuel the white nationalists.
What's the cause of all of this? This sudden rise in white nationalism? Donald Trump. Full stop. With all of his "fake news" crap, his targeting of Democrats and even Republicans, and his blatant lies, he's fueling white nationalists by not condemning them. They are even praising him on their message boards and what not. Trump encouraged violence at his rallies, he's long been a racist and believes that his "genes are superior" which is a white nationalist staple of thought. Trump has given these people a platform he refuses to outright denounce and he's pissed he was forced to today.
Trump is actively dividing the country - for whatever reason, be it marching orders from Putin, ideology from Bannon and Miller - whatever it is, that's what he's doing. (Yes, there is a Russia connection here believe it or not, that has to do with Putin as a symbol of white nationalism and the types of people the Russians targeted during the election).
We've reached a point now where so long as Trump remains in office, things will get worse. If he resigns, the blow will be lessened. If Bob Mueller comes out with the laundry list of crimes, the blow will be lessened. Short term is might be ugly, but Trump's base is a relatively small group of fringe right wingers that is shrinking daily.
I guess overall, before Saturday we were really dealing with mostly (Far) Right vs. Left on a social, political and existential scale - "the last stand of the old white men" as some have called it. But after Charlottesville and the escalation of pure domestic terrorism and the imagery of Nazis, there are no "many sides," there's right and wrong, hate vs. acceptance.
ADDENDUM: As I said, I'm in favor of removing them. I did see that Gettysburg has stated they have no intention of removing them and I actually agree with this stance. I think having monuments on the battlefields are extremely important, and I would actually be against such removals from battlefields like Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run, Shiloh etc., because THAT is where is history is important to acknowledge and knowing the key figures, strategies and motivations is crucial to a collective understanding of the Civil War.
But in terms of removing them from parks and state houses? Yes, 100% get rid of them. In addition to them being monuments to what amounts to traitors, these Confederate statues and monuments have become rallying points for Nazis. That's what prompted Charlottesville and as a result, Durham. There's simply no place for them in modern society, just as there is no place for Nazis and hate groups.