Re­mov­ing Taney statue was the right thing to do

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Ben Ster­ling, Leonard­town

Much has been made about Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s (R) opin­ion and later his vote on the Mary­land State House Trust to re­move the statue of Roger Taney from the Mary­land State House grounds. It seems a vo­cal group of peo­ple have de­cided this is “po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness” run amuck or, bet­ter yet, the white­wash­ing of Amer­i­can his­tory. How­ever, I would sug­gest ev­ery sin­gle per­son that has had time to com­ment on Face­book in­stead take the time to ex­plore ex­actly who Roger B. Taney was and what he be­lieved in.

As a U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral and sub­se­quently a Supreme Court Jus­tice, they would find no short­age of his writ­ings avail­able on the in­ter­net. A bronze me­mo­rial on the hal­lowed grounds of the Mary­land State House should be re­served for the most revered of Mary­lan­ders. Maybe in 1872 when the me­mo­rial was un­veiled this was the case, but times change. We don’t have to ac­cept the fact he was revered in 1872 and con­tinue to look at a me­mo­rial of some­one that con­sid­ered 29 per­cent of the state’s cur­rent pop­u­la­tion in­fe­rior to the point that they could be “bought and sold and treated as an or­di­nary ar­ti­cle of mer­chan­dise and traf­fic, wher­ever profit could be made by it.” The ma­jor­ity opin­ion that he au­thored on Dred Scott vs. San­ford is ap­palling in a way that it’s im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that the statue has re­mained on the grounds un­til now.

I spend a fair amount of time in the state’s cap­i­tal, and the grounds of the State House are ab­so­lutely in­spir­ing in their beauty. They should be en­joyed by ev­ery cit­i­zen of Mary­land, with­out hav­ing to ob­serve a me­mo­rial to some­one that held be­liefs so counter to what this state stands for. I truly be­lieve stat­ues and memo­ri­als are meant for some­one that should be revered and cel­e­brated for their ac­tions, not sim­ply as a his­tor­i­cal re­minder of that dark chap­ter in Amer­i­can his­tory. We should con­tinue to teach about Roger B. Taney and his writ­ings; they are an im­por­tant part of our his­tory and I don’t think any­one’s ar­gu­ing that. I just can­not fathom why any­one would want to con­tinue to have his likeness dis­played at what is sup­posed to be the Peo­ple of Mary­land’s house. How could I ex­plain to my son why this man was so wor­thy of the ad­mi­ra­tion of Mary­lan­ders?

Mary­land is one of the most won­der­fully di­verse states in the coun­try and we are all lucky to be its cit­i­zens. I truly be­lieve Gov. Ho­gan made the cor­rect de­ci­sion, and that the large ma­jor­ity of the state’s cit­i­zens agreed with him.

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