Letter: Could we still fix the obelisk?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Perhaps the monument could be repurposed, recommemorated, covered up until the new title and meaning of the obelisk are decided and ceremoniously received by the city.

There are a lot of creative people in this city, perhaps adding colors to it or textures. Could it be more affordable and beneficial to use what’s already there and make it work together, rather than tearing it down?

— Vivian Saich


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23 thoughts on “Letter: Could we still fix the obelisk?

  1. Time to Change

    Just let it go. I don’t think anyone will be any happier when it’s gone, but it will be gone. Next up: new names for Buncombe, Asheville, Merrimon, Patton, Woodfin, etc. When do these get changed? Let’s not be hypocrites and just symbolically address one thing (Vance Monument). It all needs to change and this needs to be brought up to the county commissioners and city council until they take action and CHANGE THEM ALL!

    • Posh

      God I hope this sarcasm. In this town you can never tell with the crazy things people actually believe. .

      • Peter Robbins

        I assume it’s inept sarcasm, but not deliberately inept sarcasm — the kind of humor that would appeal to a tinhorn Mencken who supposes that it’s hypocritical to treat copperheads as a different sort of pest from corn snakes. But that’s just a guess. We’ll have to wait til the music stops to find out exactly where the pratfall is supposed to be.

  2. bsummers

    When you have a splinter, you don’t “re-purpose” it, you pull it out. It’s time for the thing to go.

  3. Mike R.

    The time for serious opposition to the Vance Monument removal has well passed. Lot’s of citizens were against it; in truth probably way more than were for removal. But the passion against removal wasn’t visible enough (protests) to alter the course.

    Changing street names “ain’t gonna happen”.
    Stop and think about what has to change. All the addressees on the street get to notify relatives, friends, business associates, etc. that their address has changed. Depending on the business, this is a really big deal. Businesses will have to reprint/change all related documents which contain their address (marketing material, etc.)
    If that wasn’t enough, all references to the street name in property records, municode, and many other public and legal documents have to be changed. Convinced yet?

    • Time To Change

      So its ok to do the right thing when it’s somewhat easy and somewhat cheap but if it’s a big deal nah. Let the racists names stay if it’s difficult or pricey? Why does the Vance Monument come down but we honor a slaveholder by keeping his name as the name of the city? We are either going to stop honoring racists or we’re not. Dismantling a pile of stones isn’t exactly knocking yourself out to change.

      • Mike R.

        To remove any and all vestiges of America’s racist past is unrealistic. We’d have to tear down the US Capitol Building, built form slave labor, Monticello, everything related to the founding fathers. And all references to them. And removing these reminders won’t change the history one iota.

        One could make the case that leaving this history intact is actually a good way to heal and move forward. But that would require some grace and acceptance on the part of those harmed or supposedly harmed.

        • Peter Robbins

          Oh, please. The only people worried about the impossibility of removing any and all vestiges of a racist past are people who want an excuse not to remove any vestige of the racist past. There’s no reason why we can’t take things one step at time, addressing the most egregious problems first. Here’s where the grace-and-acceptance rubber hits the road: Would you be okay with adding the words “Champion of White Supremacy” to the list of Vance’s accolades on the dedication? It’s undeniably accurate and informative; you couldn’t very well understand the life of Vance without it. But it’s not something you’d ask the community to celebrate. If, on the other hand, you take Vance’s name off the monument and replace it with something meaningless like “Unity,” the historical message of the obelisk is gone. In that case, you’d just arguing about how artistic taste should be balanced against the residual memory of Mr. White Supremacy — and you’d be asking the victims white supremacy, among others, to overlook the memory. That’s asking more than a lot of people are willing to do — and I don’t blame them.

  4. Voirdire

    Of course the names of the streets in Asheville (…which will remain, Asheville, btw ) aren’t going to change. They got their symbolic pile of stones…. and they’ll find another windmill to lay siege to. It’s all so predictable, and pathetic, I’m sorry to have to say. And re-purposing, meaningful change, thoughtful discourse…. this doesn’t happen on this stage… it’s all basically posturing and not much more. Again, sorry.

    • Mike R.

      That was 2 months ago. Eons in City Council time. They’re on to new priorities: Improving city infrastructure, enhancing basic pay for city workers for better employee retention and cleaning up the numerous homeless camps around town.

  5. Stan Hawkins

    As long as there is good money to be made in promoting division, vitriol, and temper tantrums – well, that is what Asheville will get. It will be up to city tax payers, regional & not so-regional patrons, and voters to bring an end to the misappropriation of human and financial resources.

    For example; it may just be more enjoyable, more public safety, and more scenic to make a drive from some parts of Buncombe to let’s say – Erwin or Johnson City, TN. to spend our constantly devaluating dollars. It is a choice.

    • Peter Robbins

      Division, vitriol and temper tantrums? If that doesn’t preserve the Vance legacy, what does?

      • Hawkins Stan

        So far, the “begets of begets” of current actions and trends are highly questionable. I look forward to seeing signs of true progress.

        Meanwhile, patronage is a choice. I remember what Asheville was like in the 1970’s. It was a choice then also.

  6. Time To Change

    So actually taking a stand and making actual changes was all just talk by everybody? They’re going to tear down the monument and we’re good? What good does that do?

    There are a lot of hypocrites in Asheville. Lying hypocrites.

    • Peter Robbins

      Eating less pie than you might like is not hypocrisy. It’s dieting. Espousing one belief while really believing the opposite is hypocrisy, at least when done clumsily and without ironic flair. Sockpuppets and trolls sometimes do that.

      • Time To Change

        So we’ll exhibit a diet for racism. Some is ok, just not as much. Got it.

        • Peter Robbins

          I hope that city officials will proceed as they said they would: calmly, prudently and deliberately, building a strong case one street name at a time. If you don’t know how to do that, it might be best if you didn’t try to help.

          • Time To Change

            I’d be happy with one step at a time but this is Asheville where there will be a big splash for show and then on to the next consultant to hire for PR or parks or a police study.

          • Peter Robbins

            I wouldn’t characterize the demolition of the Vance Monument as a big splash for show. It’s a significant step forward for which a great deal of groundwork was laid. It will make people happier (it will make me happier), regardless of what you think. And there is nothing hypocritical about setting realistic goals and priorities, with due regard for costs, benefits and public reaction. The willingness to do that, going forward, is what separates the problem-solver from the zealot. Fortunately, you can spot the zealot a mile away: he’s the one throwing around the word “hypocrite” without knowing what it means. I’m glad we had this little chat.

  7. Time To Change

    Since we are having this chat, does anyone know what the next step after the demolition of the monument will be? Are any streets under consideration for name change? Are any ideas or programs geared toward reparations on the table? How is the search for a new equity leader going? I am curious about the city’s plans and disbelieving of the city’s ability to carry anything through fruition as evidenced by the 20 year saga called the Pit of Despair. What’s next?

  8. Voirdire

    The changing of street names in Asheville will be the beginning of a sea change in regard to the composition of the Asheville City Council. Mark my words.

    • Time To Change

      In your post above you stated the street names would not change, “it’s all basic posturing”. Make up your mind.

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