Charlie Daniels has a message for people removing monuments to Confederate figures in the U.S. “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it,” Daniels told conservative outlet Newsmax TV. “I walk past movie posters I don’t like.”
The issue is front and center in America right now. This past weekend, a group of neo-Nazis and white supremacists chose Charlottesville, Va. as a rallying place when the town chose to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.
Violence ensued, embroiling the nation in a conflict pitting two ideological sides against each other. One argues we shouldn’t put up monuments to soldiers who fought against the United States to preserve slavery, while the other argues taking them down is akin to erasing history.
Daniels falls on the latter side of the argument. In fact, he went one step further. Charlie Daniels said removing the statues “is what ISIS is doing.”
“There were pieces of history over there they didn’t like and they were taking them down,” Daniels says. “There’s all kinds of symbolism in this country that I don’t like, but I’m not going to tear them down.”
Charlie Daniels also echoed a concern President Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Where does it stop?” Daniels wonders aloud if people will tear down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson because they also owned slaves. Daniels then repeated a contentious and debatable talking point that Robert E. Lee was a kind man.
But, Daniels notes, that doesn’t mean supporting the statues is also supporting the Confederacy. “We all know what it was fought for,” he says. “You don’t have to condone it.”
The “Devil Went Down To Georgia” singer remains a lightning rod for polarizing political views. Daniels often uses Twitter and other media appearances to reiterate strong far-right sentiments.
The parallel between ISIS destroying historic religious monuments and the U.S. removing Confederate memorials is dangerous. For one, Confederate statues don’t hold the same religious reverence as those being destroyed by ISIS. Secondly, cities are proposing moving the statues to a museum, not destroying them.
And of course, there’s a massive difference between the violent agenda of radical terrorism and U.S. cities whose citizens no longer want to look at statues of men who led a treasonous rebellion against the U.S. in order to preserve slavery.
And, as most people note, these statues are not all that historic. By all accounts, memorializing people who actively fought to destroy the United States is an odd gesture. Putting them in museums allows historians to preserve the actual history behind the Civil War and better educate. After all, nobody wants to destroy history. If anything, more people need to understand the nation’s most violent and painful era so we can avoid ever sinking to those lows again.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated since it was published.