Howell: Moving statues erases history lessons

By BRIAN GRAVES Staff Writer
Posted 8/30/17

State Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) said Tuesday the removal of monuments and statues would be erasing the lessons learned of history.

Howell made his comments on the recent national debate …

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Howell: Moving statues erases history lessons

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State Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) said Tuesday the removal of monuments and statues would be erasing the lessons learned of history.

Howell made his comments on the recent national debate spurred by protests in Charlottesville, Va., and elsewhere across the nation as he addressed the Bradley County Republican Party’s monthly meeting.

“Lately, I have gotten a lot of comments and most of the opinions do not differ too much from mine,” Howell said.

He explained in 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly “had the foresight to address this issue before it blew up in our face.”

“That does not mean to say we don’t have a problem. We do,” he said. “Through the leadership of Deputy Speaker Steve McDaniel, who happens to sit on the Tennessee Historic Commission, he brought a bill with the purpose of preserving everything from highways named after military heroes such as Paul Huff to the historic figures, monuments and statutes that are on public land.”

He said under the provisions of the bill, before a monument can be removed in Tennessee, a person must petition the THC and go through several steps “which takes several months to do.”

“There has to also be a series of public meetings to get input from the community and then there must be a two-thirds vote of the 28-member commission for the removal to take place,” Howell explained.

“I voted for this bill because I love history,” he said. “I don’t want our history to be destroyed, eliminated and covered over because I believe that we learn from our history. There is that famous saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I believe we must preserve our history.”

Howell said the purpose of the bill “was not, as some have suggested, to preserve racism.”

“The purpose of the bill was to preserve the history we grew out of, and hopefully to learn from it,” he said. “I think we have learned from our history. But if we take it all away and tear everything down, then the coming generations have nothing to learn from because they don’t put it in the history books in schools anymore.”

Howell said in Tennessee just to suggest a street’s name or a statue offends someone, according to the bill, is not sufficient to take down monuments.

“Everybody gets offended by something, but that’s not a good reason to take down a monument,” he said. “That person or organization must present historical facts and evidence as to why it should have a name changed or be removed.”

Howell said the caveat to that is the governor’s office has now asked the commission to “meet soon for the purpose of considering the removal of some historic statues and busts.”

“You can make your feelings known by contacting the members of the commission and the governor’s office,” Howell said. “We may disagree, but that’s all right. That is what liberty and freedom of speech is all about.”

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