On Wednesday, Charlottesville's government put a black shroud over the city's statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The city claims that this shrouding is a mark of respect to Heather Heyer, the young lady who was murdered during the city's recent protests.
I take a different view.
For a start, this shrouding makes the big assumption that Heyer would want to be remembered in this way. That's risky, because all accounts suggest that Heyer acted with restraint and dignity during her protest of the neo-Nazis. In essence, she respected their right to peacefully assemble in protest, and practiced her own right to do the same. She did not engage in attacks on those who disagreed with her, nor did she attempt to damage the statue.
In addition, the statue is already due to be brought down, so it's not as if this shrouding serves some durable moral purpose. But it does cause harm.
For one, in denying statue supporters the chance to look at Lee before his removal, the city is engaged in viewpoint-based discrimination. The government might not like that some folks like Lee's statue, but it shouldn't matter. From my perspective, the dark shroud concealing the statue is a metaphor for government encroachment onto individual liberty. And it also reaches far beyond the simple act of relocating the statue. The government is effectively saying "you are not allowed to look at this, and if you wish to do so, you are a bad person."
Would Heyer want this? Maybe, maybe not. But I certainly don't think Charlottesville should be using her name to justify its decision.