Many of these were erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This is a white supremacist organization, which contemporaneously defended the KKK. The monuments romanticize the era of slavery and glorify those who fought to defend it. Whatever historical value they have is not balanced by the tacit approval of their symbolism through their prominence in public spaces. This contributes to an overall normalization of racist attitudes which directly contributes to racism. Moreover, their removal from public spaces does not equate to erasing history, and nobody is arguing that it should.
Seems like an odd thing to focus on to be honest. Honestly, to me the whole dealio about statues looks to be coming from people who generally disdain, don't understand, and don't want to understand the people who live in areas and/or are of a contemporary culture that they dislike. Seems to me its more about simply throwing stones at the "other" than it is about any notion of outrage at symbolizing a slavery that ended quite a long time ago. If only all this effort was directed at the Drug War, or a dozen other heavy handed statist policies that actually perpetuated grossly unfair treatment of certain disadvantaged demographics.
Interesting graph. Civil war ended in 1865, but the peak statue construction appears to be 40 years later. I know nothing about the United Daughters of the Confederacy, other than about anyone from South in that era would be considered full blown racist by modern standards. The biggest spike appears to be from 1900 to 1915. What factors would you attribute it to?
The war generation was aging and dying off, and their children and grandchildren were revering the Age of their elders, as well as looking back to a time that was romanticized (through very rose colored lenses) as an era where things were good for them. It bears remembering as well that the war and Reconstruction policies that followed it doomed large swaths of the South to endemic poverty and backwardness that continues to this day. Sure, the Old, Pre-war South certainly had its ugliness. But that doesn't change the fact that they were and still mired in poverty, and all the ignorance that comes with it. Unfortunately, many seem to have just decided, then and now, that they are all inherently bad people beyond enlightenment. Which seems to me to be rather similar to the racist views that some hold towards certain minorities - as in the folks who think that some minorities are more likely to become hardened criminals simply because they are of said minority, not because they grew up in a situation of generational poverty and ignorance.
So funny how people tend to become what they purport to hate. Or, it would be funny if it hadn't given us Trump.