Confederate Statues, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and the Power of Clarifying an Argument

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We shall render our hearers willing to receive information, if we explain the sum total of the cause with plainness and brevity, that is to say, the point on which the dispute hinges. — Cicero, De Inventione

Political arguments never seem to produce resolutions. Most people come out of them more confirmed in their opinion than they were when they started. Nobody actually wins because everyone imagines that they’ve won — and that any rational observer would agree.

  • Confederate soldiers were fighting to preserve slavery.
  • Confederate generals were traitors.
  • The BLM movement is Marxist.
  • We need to preserve our history, even if it is painful.
  • Disavowing the racism of our past is more important than making donors happy. (Frequently said on university campuses).

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Michael Austin is a former English professor and current academic administrator. He is the author of We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America’s Civic Tradition

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