People gather around a Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, this month.

Honoring the unforgivable

Updated 10:42 AM ET, Wed June 17, 2020

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(CNN)To many, these are not matters for debate.

If historical figures embraced hate or violence, it doesn't matter that they were great singers, innovators or wartime strategists, nor that they had changes of heart later in life.
"In many cases, preserving history was not the true goal of these displays," former Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen said of the center's 2016 report that found at least 1,500 US government-backed tributes to the Confederacy.
"Rather, many of them were part of an effort to glorify a cause that was manifestly unjust -- a cause that has been whitewashed by revisionist propaganda that began almost as soon as the Civil War ended. Other displays were intended as acts of defiance by white supremacists opposed to equality for African Americans during the civil rights movement."
To say the hate or violence was a product of the times may sound fair, but protesters today are products of theirs. Cancel culture, with its shortcomings, insists that Christopher Columbus was no explorer but rather the most brutal of colonizers, and Robert Lee was no general; he was a slave-owning traitor who led thousands to their deaths in a rebellion to defend the subjugation of blacks.
Here are some other unforgivable acts:

George Preston Marshall

A memorial to George Preston Marshall stands on the grounds of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
Think the football team in the nation's capital has a controversial name? You should learn about its founder.
    In 1961, the Washington Redskins were the only of 14 NFL squads that hadn't integrated. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall confronted Marshall, explaining then-DC Stadium was on national park land and the team might not keep its lease if Marshall didn't sign a black player.
    The powerful Marshall replied that he wanted to debate the issue with President John F. Kennedy. Marshall considered his "the team of the South" -- the team song at the time included the line, "Fight for old Dixie" -- and Marshall had said, "We'll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites."
    Status: A monument honoring Marshall stands outside what is now Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

    Henry Benning

    Fort Benning, seen here in 1926, was named for a Confederate general and champion of slavery.