Stop Pulling Down Statues!

Disclosure:

I am a white woman whose father fled Cuba in 1959, so I have Latinx in me, but I grew up in a white culture. I acknowledge my white privilege and welcome others’ comments about this topic. Question: Does my being white completely discount my thoughts? Curious.

line

While I despise many of the men (and they are all men so far) who are depicted in the statues being removed and what they have done to Indigenous People, Blacks, migrants, etc., I believe there is another way to handle this besides getting rid of them.

robert_milligan_statue_black_lives_matter

History is Watching

From the beginning of time, when one culture takes over another, the new folks pillage and destroy the other people’s libraries, churches/mosques/temples/etc., statues, buildings and sometimes, whole civilizations.

Then a few hundred or thousand years go by and those looking back wonder what was in their heads that they destroyed these beautiful icons. How could someone throw that exquisite vase down? Why would all the stained glass have to be broken? What was the point of burning the books? Did they really have to bomb the thousand-year old building?

Navelgazing Writer
Bundesarchiv Bild 102 4597, Berlin, Opernplatz, Bücherverbrennung

Reasoning

While it seems a good idea at the time, to force people to change and teach them a lesson,  is it always right to force people to adhere to one religion, one belief system, one mindset? Eons of civilizations seem to believe it is.

I asked a history buff friend of mine how people can justify forcing others to convert, asking if they got bonus God points for nearly killing someone until they “confessed” and “converted.” How can that even count towards God being happy? Wouldn’t you want people to voluntarily change their religion/minds? Why not just let the heathens go to hell and suffer for their original religion? He told me many religions find it meritorious to have converts, no matter how they get there.

But I have to ask, don’t they know the “converts” are faking it to stay alive? I mean, if they were forced to convert themselves, they would hide their own true religion, practicing in darkness, wouldn’t they? How can they not think others are doing the same thing?

Navelgazing Writer
Spanish Inquisition (1478–1834)

History Comes Around Again

When I was in Humanities classes, looking at drawings of buildings that were destroyed by war and/or hate, it seemed absurd to have destroyed so much beauty.

And now, with the statues of Confederate soldiers, Presidents, Christopher Columbus and others being pulled down and destroyed, who will be looking back in 300 years wondering where the history went to. Did we totally ignore the Civil War? Why are there no markers of that tumultuous time?

Navelgazing Writer
Conventry Cathedral in England, built in 14-15th century, bombed on November 14th, 1940.

Alternatives to Destruction and Removal

I’ve wondered why we can’t leave the statues and have markers or co-statues that share the new attitudes of the day. New York City is doing just that:

For the Columbus statue, the city would add historical markers and commission a new monument to honor indigenous people. Other markers would be added elsewhere to give additional context for other statues and monuments.”

Art

Isn’t art all about the reaction to it? Loved or hated, art has had its share of controversy. Robert Mapplethorpe‘s works freaked plenty of folks out as he unveiled his X Portfolio male nudes and BDSM photos. When Michelangelo‘s Pietà was attacked with a hammer in 1972, controversy surrounded the decision to restore it.

After the attack, some art historians and restorers wanted the statue to remain as it was damaged as a sign of the violent times. Others said it should be restored but with clear marks delineating the damaged parts as a historical testament.”

Pieta Navelgazing Writer

The decision was made to restore the statue.

Artists

So what of the artists’ who created the statues being defaced and/or pulled down? Are we censoring their art? Aren’t we all about not censoring, but allowing freedom of expression?

Why isn’t this discussion more prevalent as the atmosphere becomes more politicized and beautiful works of art disappearing? Shouldn’t we be reminded of our history through statues? Can’t we find ways to honor both sides of the anger?

What happens when a George Floyd statue is erected and the winds of change are Trumpian 100 years from now. Should that statue be removed? Of course not! But there are people who would find it extremely controversial and offensive to be erected.

Which statues do we fight for?

BLM statue

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Stop Pulling Down Statues!

  1. The confederate statues were put up in the 1900s. Many of them can be linked to a time where white people are trying to terrorize black people into compliance. When a bunch of High Schools were built in the south after desegregation they were all given confederate names to put black people in their place. We cannot ignore the purpose of those statues and names. Do we really want to keep around memorials to intimidation? I don’t.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the reminder about when the statues were erected and the motivation of at least some of the people who did so. I should add in the piece that I am speaking from my White Privilege, although my father was a Cuban immigrant who fled the Revolution in 1959. I cannot feel what you are feeling about the statues and perhaps I am discounted completely for being white, but I stand by my comments about art and history and what will our descendants think 200 years from now.

      Thank you, thank you for speaking up. It means much that you would.

      Like

  2. “Where they burn books, they eventually get around to burning people.” Heimlich Heine. At what point does a work of art cease to be a political statement ? My city, Richmond, VA has been defaced in a frenzy to eliminate symbols of racism, the arbiters of racism being Marxist radicals of varying credibility from college professors to street punks. Profound distortions of fact are presented to further the case that racism is systemic and rampant. The statues were erected post Civil War in order that the memory of those who fought and died be honored. The Civil War was the bloodiest war in American History and South suffered a disproportionate loss of life because of its smaller population. Remembering the dead. If that is a sinister motive then there is a wall in Washington with 59000+ names of the Vietnam Dead that needs to come down, as well as memorials to the dead of all wars. The Civil War was kind of a big deal.
    Blaming people who can’t fight back is what scoundrels do. If politicians’ urban policies fail, or their incompetence, nepotism, or corruption come to light, test down some ststues. Or get a mob to do it. Takes the heat off the politician, for a little while. Will it work for Richmond Mayor Lever Stoney, or California Governor Gavin Newsome? Who knows?

    Like

      1. I’ve gone over this again and again. Theoretically the Monument Avenue statues will go in a museum, as yet unnamed. Nor do We know if said museum even exists. That was acceptable to many of us until the frenzy of destruction began. Consider this, you don’t see the French taking down monuments to Napoleon Bonaparte.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s