US statues

There is a lot of controversy over statues in the US.

Pulling down statues is not revising history. History is recorded in many ways. There are not many statues of Hitler left in Germany, and many fewer  statues left of Stalin or Lenin in Russia than there once were.

St Petersburg being renamed Leningrad didn’t change history, it was a part of history. As was changing it back to St Petersburgh.

Symbols of the past can be provocative, they can be demeaning, they can be insulting, they can be divisive.

A statue of a British soldier in Parihaka would be quite inappropriate, even if it symbolises a part of that place’s history.

Statues and monuments in US towns and cities that symbolise slavery and white supremacy are contentious. It is up to those places to decide whether they are appropriate in a modern context.

Removing some of them won’t change history. But it could change the present for the better.

Another US civil war, as some extremists seem to want, would be dreadful for just about everyone, and solve nothing.

38 Comments

  1. unitedtribes2

     /  August 19, 2017

    Closer by the day. The revolution that is.

  2. PDB

     /  August 19, 2017

    Pulling down of statues and the like won’t ‘change history’ but they can definitely be part of changing how people today view history.

    Pull down all long standing statues/ memorials to General Lee and this spreads the belief he was an evil racist regardless if this is true or not.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 19, 2017

      I don’t think those wanting to remove the statues of confederate soldiers are saying that the individuals were bad, rather they are saying what they represent is a negative period of the US history.
      The people that erected them were celebrating that period of slavery. So you an understand that the descendant of those slaves look upon them as glorifying that evil. The fact that they can now stand up and say “we no longer want them” and that authorities are listening to them is an indication of a maturing of the US people both black and white.

      Unfortunately there is a large minority that in harking back to that period show that they haven’t matured and basically want the world to stand still. The world isn’t standing still and they can’t turn the clock back. It is time they accepted that and got on with life in a productive manner.

      As in other places where statues that glorified evils from the past have come down, the same will happen in the US.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 19, 2017

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is evil. A staue is just a pice of stone or metal. Or an image. Or a symbol Or whatever someone wants it to be. Like a Trojan horse.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 19, 2017

      The fact that it is a symbol of a period when blacks were oppressed by the whites is the problem. I think they were often erected to intimidate the blacks once they had gained the freedom. Basically to keep them in their place.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 19, 2017

        Evidence?

        • Patzcuaro

           /  August 19, 2017

          No evidence just a gut feeling, why do you think they put the statues up? Do they hold services like we do on ANZAC Day to commerate those that died during the civil war at the statues?

          If they do hold a memorial at the statues do they acknowledge all the slaves that died and all the blacks that were lynched afterwards? I doubt it.

          • Brown

             /  August 19, 2017

            So what are you going to do about the blacks that owned slaves?

            • Patzcuaro

               /  August 19, 2017

              Are you talking about in the US context or globally. I doubt there were many instances in the US as the black would have been lynched for getting above his station.

              Globally no form of slavery acceptable, colour is irrelevant.

            • PDB

               /  August 19, 2017

              So you are all for removing all buildings built by slaves such as the Colosseum etc?

            • Patzcuaro

               /  August 19, 2017

              Most of the ancient wonders of the world, such as the Egyptian pyramids, were made by slave/forced labour. Now they are just tourist attractions.

              These statues weren’t made by slave labour but represent an affirmation of the slave owning white Confederate South and a reminder to the blacks of there subjugation.

              All removing the Colosseum would do is deprive the Italians of tourist dollars, it was build by a civilisation that no longer exists.

              The statues were erected by members of a society that still exists, one that has not entirely moved passed the attitude of white superiority over other races. Hence they are relevance to todays society in the US.

            • Patzcuaro

               /  August 19, 2017

              There were in fact a number of black slave owners in the US.

              http://www.theroot.com/did-black-people-own-slaves-1790895436

            • PDB

               /  August 20, 2017

              So Patzcuaro – its selective monuments etc that you want removed that might have a link to slavery/racism? They have to be still ‘relevant’ to today’s society? Funny, but I consider racism as racism.

              Regardless you’ll obviously be still wanting this to be removed from the face of the earth?

              http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/15/its-time-to-blow-up-mount-rushmore/

        • J Bloggs

           /  August 19, 2017

          Many of the “public space” monuments (i.e. those in parks, or on buildings), as opposed to cemetary memorials, were erected in the period between 1890-1950 – at the same time as the “Jim Crow” laws were in force.

          http://www.history.com/news/how-the-u-s-got-so-many-confederate-monuments

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  August 19, 2017

            I hate to admit it, but there were black slave owners. And they were not lynched-there would be no justification for lynching someone for that.

            I would put the statues in museums if they are old ones, to show that some people thought that way then.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  August 19, 2017

              There were black slave owners in the US as early as the c.17. The first one was a freed slave himself, and others probably were, too.

              This shouldn’t come as a surprise-look at the madams now who were brought to the UK (and elsewhere, I expect) as prostitutes from Eastern Europe.

  4. David

     /  August 19, 2017

    “Removing some of them won’t change history. But it could change the present for the better.”

    Good luck with that. This campaign is specifically intended to divide people.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 19, 2017

      The mere fact the statues are there is to divide and intimidate. While they remain there is no chance of reconciliation. It is going to be a painful period for the descendants of those whites that oppressed the blacks but less painful than what the blacks had to endure during and after slavery.

      • David

         /  August 19, 2017

        Thank you for proving my point.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  August 19, 2017

          The people are already divided and there is no chance of genuine reconciliation while they exist.

  5. PDB

     /  August 19, 2017

    Regardless of the statue issue we do have people today actively changing history based on academic theory & computer projections being accepted as fact – case in point Shakespeare having some of his books changed to include Christopher Marlowe as co-author.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/85684504/shakespeares-henry-vi-coauthor-finally-gets-a-writing-credit-400-years-on

    • Missy

       /  August 19, 2017

      Indeed, another example is the promotion of Mary Seacole as the ‘true’ pioneer of nursing in the Crimea by some of the liberal left, even though she was a businesswoman first and foremost and did very little to advance Nursing.

      In order to be politically correct the contribution of Florence Nightingale is being diminished by some in favour of promoting Mary Seacole.

      Seacole was, from all accounts, a very savvy and successful businesswoman, but she is being remembered for her contribution to nursing – something that has been exaggerated.

      The PC liberal left are re-writing history to suit their modern view of life.

  6. Zedd

     /  August 19, 2017

    history is always recorded by the champions.. look at ancient greece & egypt & modern iraq

  7. Patzcuaro

     /  August 19, 2017

    http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-on-confederate-statues-2017-8/?r=AU&IR=T/#pretty-much-all-historical-statues-busts-and-monuments-are-propaganda-1

    Here are some interesting bits of this article:

    “When we commemorate historical happenings and figures in public spaces, we are essentially telling future generations what should matter to them and who they should hold in esteem.
    Popular opinion changes. Historical heroes rise and fall. History isn’t static. This is normal.
    But to decry these shifts as changing “history” and “culture” represents a misunderstanding about what these statues are.”

    “History isn’t static” and “popular opinion changes”. This has happened not just in the US but in the Eastern Bloc after the fall of communism. What was once regarded as correct or mainstream, for instance reverence of Lenin or Stalin changes when popular opinion changes or people are able to express their own free will.

    The US appears to be going through a similar shift in public opinion regarding the Confederacy. Nothing will change what happened but the people that erected the statue were telling future generations that their cause was just. This is being revisited and popular opinion is now saying that the Confederate cause was not just.

    You could say that the people that put up the Statues were in effect trying to rewrite history as they saw it. To glorify their heroes.

    “Soon enough, however, “… public monuments became a central means of rewriting history from the Confederate perspective — ‘righting history,’ their patrons said,” writes Cynthia Mills in “Monuments to the Lost Cause.”
    “They come in waves,” Whittenburg said. “When there’s a perceived threat to the South or within the South.””

    The South is being threatened again as mainstream opinion says the statues should come down.

  8. Missy

     /  August 19, 2017

    One of these has been deemed cultural destruction, the other good for society. I see no difference, both are actions of those who believe their view of history and culture is superior. Where does it end?

    • Missy

       /  August 19, 2017

      for the record, the top image is of Isis destroying a statue of an Arab poet, the bottom is a statue of a confederate soldier in the US being pulled down and destroyed.

      I see no difference, once you let the mob start deciding what should and shouldn’t be acceptable as a statue you are on the slippery slope to mob rule, and a form of totalitarianism.

      These type of actions (as David said) are designed to divide. It is almost as if the far left are doing this knowing that they will provoke the far right, and then they can sit back with their moral superiority and ban those they oppose, suppress their speech, and create their version of the perfect society.

      Pete, you rightly say a second US civil war would be terrible, and yes some extremists do want it, but it would be interesting what their motivations are. I am not sure the far right want a society where everyone thinks like them, but they do want a society where everyone looks like them, the far left want a society where everyone thinks like them. Both are willing to use violence to get their perfect state.

      • PDB

         /  August 19, 2017

        Yep – when you get a mob mentality that decides for all what is appropriate/moral and what isn’t you are going down a very dodgy road.

        Especially so when they represent a minority view. A poll in America yesterday had 62% believing the statues should remain, 27% they should be removed because they are offensive and 11% unsure. Another had it 50% for keeping them, 30% against and 20% unsure. Of that poll African-Americans were against 49% – hardly an overwhelming number considering these statues are meant to represent slavery & racism.

    • PDB

       /  August 19, 2017

      I note old General Lee’s statue was very poorly made…..

      If you take this through to its logical conclusion these people should be demanding the removal of all religious buildings, the practicing of religion, monuments and the like as it’s religion that has been the root cause of the most suffering in the world. Christianity in the world is already well under attack from the left so we might as well attack all religions equally.

      I suggest we start with not rebuilding Christchurch cathedral & from there move onto overturning tables of donated goods at a church charity event.

      • Missy

         /  August 19, 2017

        Absolutely, and of course to take it to the extreme, do you destroy cities like Liverpool and Bristol which helped facilitate the slave trade? What about ancient Greek & Roman buildings built by slaves? What about the colosseum which represents extreme animal cruelty and the exploitation and oppression of slaves?

        Where does it end?

        • PDB

           /  August 19, 2017

          These can go for a start as they are reminders of Roman slavery;

          • PDB

             /  August 19, 2017

            By today’s standards this can’t be tolerated – knock it down!;

            “Building the Colosseum – Who built the Roman Colosseum?

            An estimated 100,000 prisoners were bought back to Rome as slaves after the Jewish War. Vespasian had a limitless work force. In the building of the Colosseum the slaves undertook the manual labor such as working in the quarries at Tivoli where the travertine was quarried.

            Slaves would also have been used to lift and transport the heavy stones 20 miles from Tivoli to Rome. Teams of professional Roman builders, engineers, artists, painters and decorators undertook the skilled tasks necessary for building the Colosseum.”

            http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/colosseum/building-the-colosseum.htm

    • First they came for the statues?

      Then the books, the art and anything that offended or reminded them that history is not kind, nor has everyone, at any time been treated equally. I have empathy with the idea that memorialising the Confederates can be construed as glorifying slave keepers, fact is that until relatively recently nearly every one of those we consider our great writers, artists, philosophers, societal movers and shakers kept servants of some kind. At best they paid them poorly and worked them around around the clock, at worst they racially profiled, humiliated and abused them. For centuries in Europe slaves/servants were all white and everybody – bar the dirt poor, kept them. Yes, the history of black people seized and sold is a particularly disgusting one, but some degree of context is to be encouraged if historically we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

      From what I have learned from life is that the oppressed very quickly become the oppressor when their numbers give them power. I have learned that rather than rendering them kinder to anyone, they hate those they identify as the oppressor and all they do is reverse the process and the cycle continues.

      The exceptions to me are Ghandi and Mandela. While both these men were true leaders and visionaries, one might ask some what their tolerance and forgiveness have ultimately delivered to the lives of the vast majority of people in their respective countries. I’m not remotely seeing anything approaching equality.

  9. sorethumb

     /  August 19, 2017

    The majority want the statues to remain ( blacks are remainers 44:40). Over all 62% say remain (including Hispanics ).

  10. sorethumb

     /  August 19, 2017

    Remember that slavery existed frm time immemorial until it was abolished
    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jul/24/books/bk-hadjian24

    • PDB

       /  August 19, 2017

      Hence why imposing today’s moral standards on the past is fraught with danger.

  11. Missy

     /  August 19, 2017

    “Pulling down statues is not revising history. History is recorded in many ways. There are not many statues of Hitler left in Germany, and many fewer statues left of Stalin or Lenin in Russia than there once were.”

    Yet Stalin is having a renaissance in Russia as he grows in popularity, and statues of him are being erected again. He is again beginning to regain legitimacy in Russia, and so are his actions. A survey carried out in March 2015 showed 45% of Russia’s population thought the success of Stalin’s rule justified the sacrifices of the Soviet people – up from 25% in November 2012.

    Nazism is gaining popularity once again in Europe, there are a number of reasons why, but in relation to this, the statues are gone, the history is not taught, and anything Nazi related is illegal in Germany.

    Without visible reminders of the past they have let it be airbrushed from society and that is leading to history being repeated. Who knows if leaving the statues would have a different outcome today or not in Russia and Germany, but we do know removing statues has done nothing to led to a more ‘tolerant’ society, and it certainly hasn’t led to these groups rising once again.

    • Brown

       /  August 20, 2017

      The Nazi era is interesting – their military machines, uniforms and weapons are popular with enthusiasts and grown men (and their daughters) dress up and act out battles with their mates dressing as British and Americans. I’m not in the least bit offended by seeing a bloke dressed as a Waffen SS trooper at a show, a Tiger tank growling about or a Folk Wulf 190, or Zero flying by. I can emotionally separate the history from the artifacts that in no way endorse a regime and this is what brings old foes together as friends. History is interesting – all of it and not just the bits you approve of.