On October 26, 2023, organizers of a project called “Swords into Plowshares” secretly melted the Robert E. Lee statue that was torn down in Charlottesville, Virginia in July 2021. The group told NPR that the work is being done at an out-of-state foundry and asked the news outlet to withhold the location and workers’ identities.
The Virginia Council founding chairman John Reid released the following statement:
“The Virginia Council denounces in the strongest possible terms the vile, vengeful, and repugnant act of destroying in a blast furnace the Robert E. Lee statue that stood for decades in Charlottesville.
Rejoicing in the destruction of historic statues and paintings and gleefully comparing it to the “execution” of a “rabid dog” reveals an alarming and juvenile belligerence. Only a weak and sick society allows this to happen, and it ought to be an extraordinarily disturbing sign about the future of this country.
Fair warning, these vengeful and hate-filled people will not stop at statues. They seek to destroy everything they disagree with or don’t understand, and that may include you.
Melting this historic statue helps no one, improves life for no one, and heals absolutely nothing. It is simply an act of vengeance (which should be reprehensible in all moral societies) designed to satisfy the hatred burning in the perpetrators’ hearts. It is an ominous warning to anyone who disagrees with the pre-approved rhetoric.
The Virginia Council calls on civic leaders, political leaders, and leaders in the art community to denounce this reprehensible act that threatens the heritage of Virginia, which may in fact be illegal under the terms of the revised Monuments Act passed by the General Assembly in 2020."
The melting down of the Lee statue will take place over the next few weeks, according to NPR, after which the materials will be recycled into “a new art form” to be displayed in Charlottesville, setting an extraordinarily dangerous precedent for the treatment of civic art throughout the United States extending well beyond statues of confederate figures.
The Virginia Council is a citizen’s initiative of Common Sense Society, made up of Virginians who are passionate about preserving the traditions that make us distinctly Virginian and advancing civil discourse and the rule of law so that all citizens of the Commonwealth can prosper.