Empower Wisconsin | June 30, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The College Republicans of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have launched a petition opposing any effort to remove the historic statue of President Abraham Lincoln that has graced UW’s Bascom Hill for more than a century.
As Empower Wisconsin reported on Monday, UW’s Black Student Union started its own petition calling for the removal of the statue in what members see as a social justice crusade.
“Although he freed the slaves, he freed them and gave them no rights, no reparations,” Nalah McWhorter, the group’s president told WKOW.com last week.
In a statement to Empower Wisconsin, the College Republicans said criticizing our leaders past and present is an essential part of democracy, but “erasing our shared history does not lead to progress.”
“Unfortunately, this small group of individuals has garnered an unreasonably large amount of attention from members of the media,” the young Republicans said.
Lincoln was instrumental in launching and leading the Republican Party, created on a platform of stopping the spread of slavery in America. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation at the height of the Civil War and he fought tirelessly for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the constitution, which put an end to slavery.
University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank issued a statement noting the university’s continued support for Abraham Lincoln and the iconic statue of him that has graced UW’s Bascom Hill for more than a century.
“Like those of all presidents, Lincoln’s legacy is complex and contains actions which, 150 years later, appear flawed,” Blank wrote. Lincoln, in his famous debates with profoundly racist Democratic U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas, did assert the superiority of the white race, playing to a crowd of southern Illinois racists.
“However,” Blank continued, “when the totality of his tenure is considered, Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of our greatest presidents, having issued the Emancipation Proclamation, persuaded Congress to adopt the 13th Amendment ending slavery and preserved the Union during the Civil War.”
The College Republicans applaud Blank’s “quick response calling for careful inspection before the removal of important campus symbols.” They point out that Lincoln’s support of public land-grant universities made it possible for school of higher education like UW-Madison to exist.
Keeley Collins, communications director for the College Republicans said she can’t count the number of times she’s rubbed the Lincoln statue’s lucky left foot (a UW tradition) atop Bascom Hill. She said The Great Emancipator is a staple of the university and it would be a disservice to take it down.
“When examining not just Abraham Lincoln but any historical figure, it’s important to acknowledge that no one is perfect. However, Abraham Lincoln was one of the most revolutionary presidents in terms of forging a path towards equality and fighting for the enslaved,” Collins said.
Other iconic Madison statues have fallen prey to “social justice” mobs. Last week, demonstrators tore down and soiled the famous, 7-foot Forward statue, a proud symbol of progress — particularly women’s suffrage — created by a Wisconsin female artist nearly 130 years ago. Then they proceeded to drag down and decapitate the statue of Hans Christian Heg, an abolitionist and Union colonel who fought and died in the Civil War. They dumped what was left of the statue in Lake Monona.
“The College Republicans of the University of Wisconsin – Madison hope that students and alumni of all political affiliations and beliefs join us in support of the President Lincoln statue, and the historically unifying presence it has on campus,” the press release states. “Support of one of our campus’s most unifying symbols should not be a political issue.”