Ten Thoughts on Statues
  1. In times past, people emptied buckets of shit from their windows to the streets below. We can remember this as a historical fact without the streets continuing to be covered in human waste.
  2. If you were violently assaulted, you would want people to recognise the injustice but probably wouldn’t be campaigning for a statue of the assailant to be erected. Statues are commemorations, not dispassionate records. To commemorate slavers is a grave insult to black people that must walk past these things. If you need statues to remember history, let’s have statues of the people who were brutalised, raped, killed, and maimed by these tyrants.
  3. If you need statues to remember history, what will you do with that memory? Perhaps you’ll say never again? Perhaps you’ll look with an open mind at the effects of that history in the present and not assume that the effects no longer continue. Perhaps you’ll look towards modern slavery and to what happens in prisons now. 
  4. There are places where sculpture can be stored for historical and cultural benefit. They are called museums and art galleries. Campaigners have been asking to move offending statues into them.
  5. There are places where sculpture can be stored when these campaigns fall on deaf ears. They are called rivers. If you insult people with shrines to abusers and ignore their protests to move them inside and contextualise them properly, you should not be surprised if people take direct action.
  6. The true property rights of our streets and our statues are not as easy to work out as it first appears, but why even worry about that until you’ve started costing out reparations for slavery and the resulting socio-economic impact and intergenerational trauma?
  7. In the UK, campaigners seek to remove statues of those responsible for colonial violence yet there is a perception that all statues, such as war memorials, are under threat. This is misinformation, spread by the far right, who have been defending unthreatened statues as a propaganda exercise. If you have believed in these threats, take a course in critical thinking, or at the least fact check, fact check, fact check. If someone makes a claim in a Facebook meme or reactionary newspaper column, ask what their source is before you believe it or share it. There is a list of targeted statues and the rationale behind the targeting of each at https://www.toppletheracists.org/
  8. Some of this misconception comes down to a fear of burning books and totalitarian cultural revolution from a monolithic left. The ‘slippery slope’ argument is a logical fallacy and to conflate Black Lives Matters protestors with the authoritarian left is unfair and unjustified.
  9. Perhaps it is tempting to write campaigners off as ‘the Left’ if you don’t want to listen to them and want the comfort of things staying as they are. In a sense, there is a threat to Western culture here. The threat that we need to reassess it and face up to the damage caused and benefits yielded from colonialism, slavery, and racism. How you feel about that may reflect your orientation to the world – openness or fear? Healthy organisms consume their own dead cells. Healthy individuals grow morally with new data and maturing intellectual and emotional capability, and they improve their behaviour and reassess their past. Healthy societies reprioritise, review, and restructure, influenced from the bottom up by individual consciences. 
  10. ‘It is time to put away childish things’ – 1 Corinthians 13
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