I’m a 2018 graduate of Minnesota State University. I was extremely upset to learn that a handful of students are pushing for the Abraham Lincoln statue to be removed in the Centennial Student Union.
Minnesota State’s tagline is “Big ideas, real-world thinking.” Erasing or sanitizing history does not fall under a “real-world thinking” mindset. “Big ideas, real-world thinking” means utilizing our ideas, experiences, knowledge, resources, and talents to make ourselves and our communities better. When we tear down statues and re-write the past to make it more palatable or inclusive, we are failing to recognize how we got here in the first place.
We can be proud of some aspects of our history and ashamed of others. Let’s not pretend that our history was always good or always bad. No generation that ever existed has been perfect. What we do is learn from our own personal mistakes and our country’s mistakes and move forward while still recognizing both the good and the bad from the past.
If we only displayed statues of perfect people, then there would be no statues in this world to display. It’s troubling that our nation is pivoting towards the banning of books, the removal of statues, the omitting of historical events from curriculum and the sanitized understanding of history.
As Winston Churchill once said in 1948, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”