Friday, September 1, 2017
Statues Coming Down
Well, it's happening. After the violent clashes at the 'culturally carcinogenic' events in Charlottesville, people all over have been either demanding that statues be taken down or have physically taken them down themselves. Of course, since that Charlottesville rally was originally set up to stop a statue of General Robert E. Lee from being torn down, the biggest target of these people has been the many Confederate statues that stand all over America (especially in the southern states of course).
My overall opinion of this movement to take down these statues is that I'm................. torn. Yes, I know. You'd think that a free speech advocate such as myself would be 100% against these statues coming down. I'm basing this point of view on looking at a bigger picture.
For instance, when the communist system in Russia was dismantled in 1989, so were many statues of Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, and other icons of the USSR. Lenin's dead body was moved from the glass coffin used to put him on display into a proper grave where he can be buried among the rest of the 'proletariat'. This was done to signify that Russia was no longer under the communist system of those men.
Another big picture example I'll bring up is the big invasion of Iraq back in 2003. The big signifier that their 'mission had been accomplished' was that a huge statue of Saddam Hussein had been brought down. The same people fighting the hardest to preserve confederate states today, back then had no problem seeing that statue go. There was no cry of "but what about Sunni history?" or "wouldn't Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay be traumatized seeing this image of their father being destroyed?" Just like in Russia, the statue coming down signified that Iraq was no longer under Saddam's iron-fisted rule.
If it were up to me, I would not even demolish those statues just for the sake of preserving the principles of free speech, free expression, and preserving history. However, what's done is done.
I was not present at the induction ceremonies for any of the Confederate statues, so I have no idea what the true intentions were in erecting them in the first place. Maybe some were put up as a desperate attempt for 'proud southerners' to show everyone just who rules that respective county they're in. But some might also have been put up as a way for Americans to never forget any aspect of their history, good or bad.
There's also the matter of freedom of expression for the original artists who made those statues. However, many of the artists I'm sure were simply commissioned to make these. They may not have had any sentimental attachment to figures like Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson. Their sole intent was simply to make some quick money by creating monuments of other people's heroes. So, for that reason, maybe the artists would feel indifferent to their statues coming down. Their attitude might just be "I made my money and people saw me display my talents so ti's all good."
I should also mention that I do not have any affection for the alt-right in any way. One of them called me a "race traitor" for having a Filipina wife.
So, as you can see, I couldn't care less about the hurt feelings of these 'hoodless klansmen' as they watch their heroes come tumbling down.
One big aspect of this movement that i strongly do NOT care for is the mob justice that's tearing down these statues. That is never a positive trend.
One of the writers for The Simpsons once said that "the town of Springfield is constantly under mob rule". As most people should know, pretty much every episode of The Simpsons is a satirical allegory of our world and all of the ridiculous people in it that make it so ridiculous. If you've ever watched an episode seeing the residents of Springfield make complete asses of themselves in a crazed riot and thought "BWA HA HA HA HA HA! I'm glad that I'm not that stupid", then you should be just as appalled by the mobs tearing down and/or vandalizing statues right now.
As a free speech/free expression advocate and an artist with two self-published comic books, I do feel that creativity is healthier and is much more productive than destruction any day. I say we should follow the example of whoever put that little girl statue in front of the Bull of Wallstreet statue. Rather than tearing down these statues, there should be other statues added beside them. Perhaps the descendants of the late Alex Haley could commission many statues of Kunta Kinte breaking his chains in front of every single Confederate statue in the country. There could also be a statue of Harriet Tubman behind each one as well, singing her songs to guide the slaves to freedom out of the sight of the confederacy. That is a more positive movement I could get behind. Just a suggestion.
I'll end this post with a bit about a statue that has been stirring up a similar controversy in Canada: the statue of British General Edward Cornwallis. This statue that stands in Halifax has been protested and vandalized many many times, most adamantly by the Miqmaq Indian tribe. Well, he does have a rather brutal history with the Miqmaq for sure. Back in his day (the 1750's), the French were paying the Miqmaq Indians for every British scalp they could get. Cornwallis didn't care for this turn of events of course. However, his solution to this was the completely exterminate every single Miqmaq Indian there was, and he wasted no time in doing so.
But, at the same time, Halifax has to honour him because he is the man who founded that city. It was his leadership that made Halifax the thriving heart of the maritimes that it still is today. So, to balance the good and bad parts of this man's history, city officials have said "this statue simply honours the work he did to make Halifax what it is. We do not honour the full man."
So there you have it. I have presented many different arguments for tearing down, building up, and/or preserving statues. Do with this espousal of postulation what you will.