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Letter to the editor

Remove Martin Luther from the Chapel

I greatly appreciated Katie Becker's arguments for removing the statue of General Lee from the Duke Chapel, as well as the subsequent letters discussing the idea. I'm very enthusiastic about Jonathan Hill's proposal to replace the entire triplet of statues meant to represent the American South with three figures who better encapsulate Duke's ideals. While I agree completely that the statue of Lee—and really all monuments honoring slavery and those who fought for it—should be removed, if we as a community choose to remove Lee, we must not stop there.

Another figure in the Chapel's entrance, Martin Luther, published no fewer than three anti-Semitic treatises in his lifetime, including one titled "On the Jews and their Lies." His works later influenced the Nazi party's propaganda and create the cultural atmosphere needed for the Holocaust. Martin Luther is as much a symbol of anti-Semitism as Robert E. Lee is a symbol of American slavery.

It is wrong to expect African American students to tolerate Lee; surely it is also wrong to ask Jewish students to tolerate Luther. Removing one offensive idol while ignoring the other is a tacit endorsement, and in my opinion would be worse than doing nothing.

I suspect that a number of people who support removing Lee will disagree with me, perhaps because their religious traditions sprouted from Luther's ideas. Naturally, the founder of Protestantism is generally more revered than a treasonous soldier. I hope that any discomfort this suggestion creates will show that it is not easy to give up a "false idol" when you yourself believe in it. Perhaps it is possible to empathize with those who oppose removing Confederate monuments even if we can't agree with them.

Eidan Jacob is a senior in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.


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