RFK Jr. Has Some Thoughts on Confederate Statues

Says he has 'visceral reaction' to their removal: 'Values change throughout history'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2024 10:25 AM CDT
RFK Jr. Has 'Visceral Reaction' to Confederate Statue Removal
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during the Libertarian National Convention at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The destruction of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Confederate monument at the center of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally, led to cheers from some and boos from others. Now, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is weighing in on how he felt when the statue was removed in 2021. "I have a visceral reaction against ... the attacks on those statues," the independent contender said Friday in a podcast broadcast from the Libertarian National Convention in DC, per the Hill. "I mean, I grew up, you know, in Virginia. ... I just have a visceral reaction against destroying history."

Kennedy added: "I don't like it. I think we should celebrate who we are." The Oval Office contender also said "there were heroes in the Confederacy who didn't have slaves," though the New York Times notes that, when asked which Confederate officials he admired, he circled back to Lee, who did indeed own slaves. Kennedy said he didn't believe cultures should erase any of their backstory, because "if we want to find people who are completely virtuous on every issue throughout history, we would erase all of history."

"Values change throughout history, and we need to be able to be sophisticated enough to live with... our ancestors who didn't agree with us on everything and who did things that are now regarded as immoral or wrong," he continued, per the Washington Post. "Maybe they had other qualities that we wanted to celebrate, and clearly Robert E. Lee had extraordinary qualities of leadership." (More Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.