Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey released a campaign ad Tuesday, defending a bill she signed last year to protect her state’s Confederate monuments. Ivey called demands to remove the monuments “politically correct nonsense.”
“Up in Washington they always know better…politically correct nonsense I say,” runs the ad. “When special interests wanted to tear down our historical monuments, I said no!”
Last May, Ivey signed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, legislation that blocked local governments from removing monuments or renaming public schools that have existed for more than 40 years.
Speaking at a Young Republicans meeting on Tuesday, Ivey said: “We can’t and shouldn’t even try to charge or erase or tear down our history. We must learn from our history.”
In the wake of the 2015 Charleston church shooting, local governments across the United States faced calls to remove statues and monuments honouring Confederate figures. The movement gained wider public support after last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in which white supremacist groups and a loose gathering of more moderate right-wingers clashed with left-wing and ‘anti-fascist’ protesters over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
One person died and 19 were injured when 20-year-old James Alex Fields plowed his car into the left-wing protesters.
The “special interests” Ivey mentions in her campaign ad likely refers to groups like the Alabama NAACP and the Alabama Black Caucus, who see the statues as monuments to a time of slavery and oppression of black Americans.
“We oppose the preservation act,” Bernard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP, told AL.com. “We still oppose it. We certainly think it’s an attempt to preserve the Confederacy.” Across the nation, the NAACP is joined by groups like Black Lives Matter, which called for the criminalization of Confederate flags and symbols after Charlottesville.
The national conversation is ongoing, and Ivey’s campaign ad drew heavy criticism on Twitter, but also support from conservatives.
There are 107 confederate monuments in Alabama, and over 1,500 nationwide. A total of 109 schools, mostly in southern states, are named after Confederate figures. Ivey is not the only politician opposed to removing the monuments. Kentucky’s Governor Matt Bevin called removing Confederate monuments a “sanitization of history,” last year.
Ivey took office last year after the resignation of Governor Robert Bentley, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. She is currently campaigning for election to a full term in November.