Condoleezza Rice says Confederate statues are indefensible but that calls to tear down other monuments have ‘gotten a little out of control’

Condi Rice

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that she doesn’t “know why anybody wants to defend the Confederacy” and monuments erected in honor of it, but warned against the removal of other controversial statues, arguing that doing so would erase history.

“I actually don’t know why anybody wants to defend the Confederacy and Confederate monuments,” Rice said while speaking during the Aspen Security Forum.

Rice, who under President George W. Bush became the first Black woman to head the State Department and the first African American woman to serve as national security adviser, joins a small but growing number of Republicans who have publicly called for such symbols to be removed from public spaces, though President Donald Trump has defended them.

A number of state and local governments have moved to remove Confederate monuments and statues in recent weeks in the wake of widespread protests over racial injustice. The US House also approved legislation to expel Confederate statues from the Capitol last month, but the Republican-controlled Senate has so far pushed back on congressional efforts to address the artifacts.

Speaking during the forum to The New York Times’ Peter Baker, Rice also said the fight over tearing down monuments had “gotten a little out of control” and referenced efforts by residents and activists in Washington, DC, to remove a statue of President Abraham Lincoln in the city that depicts the late President standing next to a formerly enslaved man who is kneeling.

“I also don’t know why anybody wants to tear down a statue of Abraham Lincoln and slaves which was actually funded by freed slaves,” the former diplomat said. “So this has gotten a little out of control, frankly.” Officials in Boston voted earlier this summer to remove a replica of the Lincoln statue that sits in the city.

“I don’t want to be the Soviet Union where we’re trying to erase history, but the glorification of the Confederacy … this glorification of people with military bases named after military officers who tried to destroy the country, I don’t get it,” said Rice.

The House approved a $740 billion national defense authorization bill in July that would require the military to remove the names of Confederate soldiers and leaders from military properties across the country. The Senate version of the bill incorporates similar provisions to rename the bases over three years.

Trump has said he would veto the legislation if it strips the Confederate names from military bases.