Republican Missouri state Rep. Tony Lovasco suggested dismantling monuments to former President Abraham Lincoln in light of a longstanding statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee being removed this week.
Mr. Lovasco implied as much Thursday in a social media post while commenting on a video showing the removal Wednesday of the Robert E. Lee from prominent display in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy.
“If we insist on tearing down statues of reprehensible people, let’s at least be fair and balanced about it,” Mr. Lovasco posted on Twitter accompanied by a photo of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Lovasco subsequently defended his post amid sparking backlash from other social media users.
“It’s unfortunate how many people think saying ‘Lincoln was reprehensible’ equals some kind of support for the Confederacy, especially given the context of my tweet,” Mr. Lovasco said in a later tweet.
“It’s quite possible to point out that neither Lincoln nor Lee where [sic] good people deserving of honor,” Mr. Lovasco added.
Mr. Lovasco, who represents Missouri’s 64th district in the state capital, has since explained that he was not actually calling for the removal of monuments to Lincoln, the nation’s first Republican president.
“I was making a sarcastic comment to point out that both Lee and Lincoln were authoritarians unworthy of praise,” Mr. Lovasco reasoned.
Lee resigned from the U.S. Army during the American Civil War to take a commission in the army of the Confederacy, which had formed from seceding states that feared restrictions on slavery under President Lincoln.
Critics of Lincoln — who as a war measure emancipated slaves in Confederate territory and later successfully lobbied Congress to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery — have often noted depravations of civil liberties during his prosecution of the war such as the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and censorship of newspapers.
Prior to removing the statue of Lee from its base this week, the monument in Richmond was considered the largest Confederate memorial in all of Virginia.