Since everyone seems to be an American historian these days, here is the opinion of a life-long lover and student of history who is also currently a history professional and instructor.
Number one: history is interpretive. There are many American histories, not one monolithic history–even two professional historians can look back at a historic person, event, or place and interpret it differently (in fact, this is encouraged in the field). So, like most things, history is subjective. But, one must explain and back up an argument with evidence. Thus, no one is really right and no one really wrong. I think this is hard for most people to understand– certainly my students have a tough time with it. Even seemingly hard facts (dates of events for example) can be debated. What I find truly fascinating, then is how each time period—historic peoples (so, us as Twenty-first century Americans)– interpret history in a certain way and historians can study this to learn more about that specific society—their likes, dislikes, anxieties, beliefs, etc.
SO, SO, SO…it does seem from both sides of the divide (oh, yes!) that statues from the Confederate side of the American Civil War are seen today as symbols of racism, hate, and oppression. If this is how a majority of Americans view these individuals and the Civil War, then by all means take them down. But, please put them in museums were we can learn from them. As an art historian too, we lament the destruction of art! I just watched a British historian who specifically studies the destruction of art as a way to understand historic peoples better (he studied the French Revolution) and the toppling of political regimes….hmmmm.
Side note—those that marched in Charlottesville are not Nazis–Nazis are time and site specific. Neither can you compare Gen. Lee with Washington or even judge the past for the institution of slavery. We simply learn from it by trying to nail that slippery jelly to the wall. Oh, and there is no monolithic American culture either, BTW…but, I guess that is another post.