Next statues to come down: Gandhi, Columbus, and maybe Lord Nelson

This was inevitable, and talk about slippery slopes! I can see where some “slippery slope” argument are fallacious, like those who oppose assisted suicide for terminal patients on the grounds that it will lead to government genocide, but the Argument from Statues seems to be unstoppable. It started with the removal of Confederate statues and those to people who expressed bigoted views—like Woodrow Wilson, once President of the United States.  Well, I can live with removing Confederate statues, though I worry about the arguments that their presence condones or celebrates slavery (it might have once, but for nearly everyone it’s just a reminder of a terrible part of our history, one that would get effaced); that they’ll serve as rallying points for white supremacists and racists (but so what? You don’t need a statue to have such a rally); and that people find them offensive (we find lots of things offensive when spoken, but can just ignore them, as we can ignore statues that offend us). I suppose, though, that the argument that these statues implicitly celebrate slavery because they commemorate its defenders is a reasonable one, though I think that Confederate statues on battlegrounds like Gettysburg might be retained.

In truth, I see these statues sort like I see free speech: if they’re offensive, ignore them, or, as Heather Hastie suggested, put up a “counter statue”, like one depicting Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, or Martin Luther King, Jr. next to them. As a secular Jew who despises the Nazis and all that they stood for, I wouldn’t even be bothered by seeing a statue of Adolf Hitler. It commemorates a dreadful time and a dreadful man, but serves to remind everyone of what happened then. What is the downside to doing that? Only a very few demented Germans worship Hitler and would like those statues, while the upside is that people are constantly reminded of the history those statues represent.

In other words, I’m wondering whether “being offended” by a statue is grounds for removing it. Is that an argument against its presence? If so, why isn’t it an argument against free speech that equally offends? You are allowed to make a speech urging the reinstitution of slavery, but not to have a statue commemorating the times when slavery was legal. I do recognize the differences here: one is permanent, the other transitory, but both are offensive. And only the statue can serve as a permanent reminder of us of a time that many want to forget.

As I’ve said, I go back and forth on these issues. Slavery is a case far more clear cut than are the arguments against people who were not for slavery but still were bigots, racists, or misogynists. After all, until the early 20th century virtually every white person was bigoted, and nearly every man had views of women that are now considered sexist or even misogynist. (See Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature for how and why things have changed.) And not just white people! For example, Ghana is removing a statue of Mahatma Gandhi from the campus of the University of Ghana (a statue put up in June as a gesture of friendship) because of Gandhi’s racism. Here’s the statue:

As the Guardian reported:

The statue of Gandhi was unveiled in June at the University of Ghana campus in Accra by Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, as a symbol of close ties between the two countries.

But in September a group of professors started a petition calling for the removal of the statue, saying Gandhi was racist and that the university should put African heroes and heroines “first and foremost”.

The petition states “it is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super power”, and quotes passages written by Gandhi which say Indians are “infinitely superior” to black Africans.

. . . Opponents of the statue in Ghana quoted several of Gandhi’s early writings in which he referred to black South Africans as “kaffirs” – a highly offensive racist slur – and complained that the South African government wanted to “drag down” Indians to the same level as people he called “half-heathen natives”.

I throw out for discussion, then, whether personal offense of any sort should be grounds for removing statues, or whether there’s a line between ‘removable’ and ‘permanent’ monuments and, if so, where that line is. If anything is happening in the U.S. and Britain, it is that the degree of offense taken at things is growing over time, and as it grows it will, like the Blob in the movies, ingest any historical relics it doesn’t like. Offense on the one hand, history on the other—or rather, the effacement of history.

As I contemplate the inevitable expansion of the Confederate-memorial campaign to nearly anybody at any time who had odious views, I’m reminded of Winston Smith working at the Ministry of Truth in the novel 1984. That Ministry’s job, you may remember, was to efface or change history so it always comported with current ideological and political views. Orwell’s description is still germane:

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the pneumatic tubes led, he did not know in detail, but he did know in general terms. As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of ‘The Times’ had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction. A number of ‘The Times’ which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.



  1. Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I agree Jerry. But an important aspect often not considered is how will it make African Americans feel living in the communities with the civil war statues. I’m sure it is not the same as you and I feel.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I understand that. But that is “offense’ in the same way that the Nazis marching through Skokie caused offense. As I said, one alternative is to ignore it or put up counterspeech instead of tearing down what offends you.

      As I said, if there were for some reason a statue of a Nazi erected in my town, I might find it offensive, but I wouldn’t campaign to have it torn down. That would be too close, at least for me, to trying to ban speech that I find offensive. But that’s just me.

      That said, for the “reconstruction” statues erected for the purpose of intimidating or terrorizing blacks, I do recommend their removal.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Bigotry of lowered expectations.

  2. Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    One thing Muslims don’t have to worry about is having paintings and statues of Mohammed torn down.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      That was my thought too. Also means that mosques are often nicely decorated with wonderful designs instead statues and pics of gory torture scenes.

      • GM
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        It probably also had the unintended consequence of impeding scientific and technological development back in the days in the Muslim world.

        Painting people played a significant role in the European Renaissance and I am not sure you get the later Scientific Revolution in a culture that forbids it.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 3:53 am | Permalink

          Painting people played a significant role in the European Renaissance

          I don’t really see the connection between representative portraiture and scientific advance. And for the first 400 or so years of the Muslim Cailiphate, it didn’t seem to impede the progress of the sciences their after. There has been a significant slowdown in research and investigation since, but the earlier progress suggests that’s an effect of modern political developments in the Islamic world, not the religion per se.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      This also occurred to me, but for a different reason.

      The common misconception today is that Islam forbids representations of Muhammad, and to draw him is offensive to Islam as a whole. This belief is so widespread that a picture of Muhammad inevitably leads to widespread protest and even murderous rage in some.

      However, it’s not historically true. It’s simply another of those things that have become true because conservative Muslims, supported by Saudi Arabian money, currently have such dominance.

      There are, in fact, many beautiful representations of Muhammad in art. Anyone can Google them. A leading Muslim in Canada devoted a post on his website to showing some a couple of years ago.

      Perhaps what is happening now in US culture could make people believe in 100 years that statues to certain people are so offensive they should never be allowed, no matter the circumstances. Is that really where we should be going?

      The reason I made my suggestion about counter statues was not just for today, but for the future. It was about educating future generations about how society grew. It was about showing them there was a time when Robert E Lee was celebrated. Society evolved. Eventually, people came to see that there were other people who deserved statues far more. Having both shows that to future generations in a way that removing one can’t.

      What is happening today is tomorrow’s history.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Odd, then, isn’t it, that the people arguing most vehemently for keeping the statues celebrating the pro-slavery side are usually the same ones who squealed the loudest against allowing a Muslim community center to be built anywhere near the site of the World Trade Center memorial?

      Right-wing extremists in the US don’t just protest the building of Islamic centers, they blow up mosques in the dead of night — the way their forebears blew up black churches during the Civil Rights movement.

      • Posted October 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        I am against both. By the way, it seems that most Muslims of New York City are themselves not eager to perform their religious activities near Ground Zero.

  3. Art
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

    • Raymond Cox
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      He should have known better. I am sure there were Scots, Welsh and Irish in the fleet of His Britannic Majesty.

      • JackbeThimble
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        As well as Indians, Africans, Malays, Dutchmen, Norwegians, the Royal navy had a very diverse foredeck. And many of the officers were scots, irish, americans… He didn’t say every english man.

      • JackbeThimble
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Hell even the king was German.

      • Barney
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        According to the copy of the Popham flag code available here: (that version from just a year later, but it was used at Trafalgar), the system the Royal Navy used had codes for English, Irish and Scottish (used for the equivalent nouns too), but not ‘British’ (or Welsh).

        So ‘Britain’ would have had to be spelled out letter by letter; the story is told Nelson was told ‘expects’ was better than his first choice of ‘confides’ since it was in the code, so he probably would have used ‘England’ even if he’d though of ‘Britain’ first.

  4. pck
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    It’s entirely possible to condone the removal of some statues but oppose the removal of others. The confederate statues that were put up long after the end of the confederacy, with the purpose of actually expressing sentiments of white supremacy? These should go, it’s a no brainer. The statues are themselves there to erase history, as the war was literally fought to prevent the supremacy of the depicted. Put up tasteful monuments mourning the dead instead of celebrations of the people who got them killed.

    As for the other statues, why not have a discussion? Exploring the history of cultural icons can only have an educational effect. If it’s decided that maybe we don’t want to celebrate a person anymore because of a more nuanced view of history, isn’t that a good thing?

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      As I said above, I agree with those Reconstruction or even later-erected statues designed to drive home the idea of segregation.

    • GM
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      It’s entirely possible to condone the removal of some statues but oppose the removal of others.

      The problem with this is that different people draw the line between the two differently.

      So we’re back to the slippery slope discussion.

      If it’s decided that maybe we don’t want to celebrate a person anymore because of a more nuanced view of history, isn’t that a good thing?

      That’s not how it works in practice though.

      In practice it is very rarely about a “nuanced view of history”, it is all about settling scores. And I can’t think of a society that has done particularly well once it went down that road.

      • pck
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        There’s a slippery slope in allowing or banning every single thing, since different people draw different lines between every possible combination of two things.
        With that mindset we might as well not do anything ever, regardless of the immediate positive effect.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        The life of the law, and of democracy itself, has been all about drawing lines, between what is constitutional and not, between what does or does not constitute sound public policy. That those lines can be difficult to draw, and that cases very close to the line on either side of it can be all but indistinguishable, is no reason to shy away from the task.

        In any event, this issue is amenable to brighter lines than most.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      What is the criterion for determining the intent behind the erection of these statues?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:02 am | Permalink

        AFAICT (and I don’t waste much time on such things) people are drawing inferences from the date of erection of the statues. If it happened during or after the start of the Civil Rights movement – and particularly the (whichever-th) constitutional amendment which banned racially discriminatory laws – then the statue is assumed to be a rigid digit to those laws. In some cases there may be contemporaneous comments from the politicians sponsoring the erection of the statues – there were some ludicrously loose lipped idiots then, with no idea of PR. (Still are; President Smallhands for one.)

        • GBJames
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Who erects a monument also helps identify motive. And so does what happens at the location of these monuments.

          Stone Mountain is the mother of all Confederate monuments. It was erected on the site of the 1915 resounding of the KKK. It was conceived by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization dedicated to the promotion of the Lost Cause myth. The UDC was the umbrella organization under which most of these monuments were installed.

          Intent can also be inferred by who is not honored with statues. Where are the monuments to General James Longstreet? He was one of Lee’s most effective generals but didn’t qualify for monuments because after the war he worked to integrate former slaves into the body politic. He also helped put down an uprising of former Confederates in Louisiana.

          Where are the monuments to the 180,000 black soldiers, mostly former slaves, who fought in the Union army? By the end of the war about 10% of the Union army was black soldiers.

          It is not that difficult to infer intent in the erection of Confederate monuments.

  5. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    In Great Temple of Ptah near Memphis, Egypt is a 3200 year old statue of Ramses II, a notorious slaveholder. This cannot stand!

    • GM
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Built by those slaves too.

      Let’s get the bulldozers going

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:14 am | Permalink

        Built by those slaves too.

        Find an Egyptologist to back you up on that.
        Yes, there were slaves in Egypt. But the overwhelming part of the workforces for the major monumental constructions were paid labourers. Paid in beer and bread – the staple diet – not money, but as a non-monetary society, what would you expect.
        The overwhelming majority of the Egyptian population were subsistence farmers. Between the recession of the annual flood and the firs harvest, they formed a large workforce available for projects like this. A considerably smaller workforce was employed year-round in quarries (also prisoners and some slaves, requiring an investment in guards) and mason’s yards, but the “grunt labour” for moving and positioning things was provided by the annual levy of agricultural workers.
        In their housing, there is a fair amount of graffiti (so some were literate) indicating organisation into geographical parties, bolstering the “agricultural workers” understanding.
        Hollywood depictions of whip-wielding overseers of hundreds of slaves – bullshit.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:03 am | Permalink

      Replace it with one of Elvis?

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:49 am | Permalink

      A simple answer to this little quip is that the consequences of Rameses’s (supposed) misdeeds are no longer working strongly in the present, and the religion for which the temple was built is defunct and has no believers in the present

  6. Trevor H
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Arguments that you didn’t consider:

    The government is not allowed to have crosses and/or ten commandments as itviolates the ‘establishment’ – i.e. government ‘endorsing’ one religion

    By having a statue for say David Duke (of the KKK), wouldn’t a parallel be ‘government endorsement of racism’?

    IMHO the context is important, having Lee in a military cemetary is reasonable, having him outside official buildings isn’t

    Most of the ‘Civil War’ monuments were put up in the 1920’s (resurgance of KKK) and 1960s (Civil Rights), so they were designed to promote the white supremavy idea – this makes them inherantly wrong

    • Ben Curtis
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink


  7. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    A slippery slope indeed!

  8. S.K.Graham
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Re: “hate speech” vs. “hate statue”.

    A statue represent collective/government speech, not the speech of an individual. Collective speech needs to be voted on/agreed on by the society who’s values it is intended to represent.

    Any individual has the right to put up a statue of Robert E. Lee on their private property.

    A democratic society of any size can and should be free to vote to revise whom or what it honors by putting up a statue.

    Likewise any non-public/non-state organization, such as a private university should likewise always reconsider and revise whom it wishes to honor by statues and building names, reflecting the will and values of its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors.

    The Ghandi statue in question is in Ghana. What, if anything, did Ghandi do for Ghana? (I really don’t know… but I figure that is something for Ghanans to decide)

    If we need reminders about history of slavery in the U.S., how about some statues of slaves breaking their chains, or Harriet Tubman or other anti-slavery icons. I hope the towns & other places removing confederate monuments are considering replacements along those lines.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Maybe we should take down Hadrian’s Wall.

      What did the Romans ever do for us?

      • Frank Bath
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        They built a ‘lovely wall.’

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:16 am | Permalink

          Three “lovely” walls (because the first two didn’t work properly).
          Now there’s a point for President Smallhands to consider.

      • S.K.Graham
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        Hadrian’s wall is not a monument honoring anyone or anything. It’s just a leftover ancient artifact.

        Ghandi is a hero of India, not of Ghana. As far as I know never even lived in Ghana. (name similarity is apparently coincidence) And for all the good he did, he also espoused quite racist views regarding Africans, you know, such as the population of Ghana.

        Plus it is a very new statue, hardly anything of historical significance in and of itself.

        So.. yeah… it makes perfect sense that some, probably most, Ghanans might think Ghandi is not a good choice to honor and that they can come up with better choices of whom to honor with statues at their own universities in their own country.

        • JackbeThimble
          Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          Personally I think this is a good thing if it gets people to critically examine Gandhi-worship. The man was not only a racist but also a science denier (to the point of letting people die from withholding medicine) a misogynist, a de facto supporter of the hindu caste system, a massive hypocrite on race, pacifism and many other issues, and a cult leader. There are far more admirable personalities among the leaders of the indian independence movement.

    • Barry Lyons
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      This is good. I also like what Jerry wrote, but this is good. Now I’m confused.

    • Richard C
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Well said. I was coming to make the exact same point: statues in public parks are government speech. If their communities had the free speech to erect them in the 1890s and 1950s, they certainly have the same free speech to remove them and erect something else today.

      Removing a statue is not erasing history, it’s changing who from history we choose to honor.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        People who have to use the governmental facilities outside of which some of these statues stand constitute a “captive audience,” as well.

        Many of these statues were placed in such prominent locations to have an intimidating effect on a portion of the populace.

        • Ben Curtis
          Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          And that was apparently their purpose in some cases.

        • Posted October 4, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          + 1. Like the huge, tall statues of Soviet soldiers in my country.

    • Historian
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Your argument is well put and I consider ineluctable. I was going to say the same thing, but you beat me to it. I agree totally that there is no analogy between hate speech and a now considered hate statue erected on public property. The former is the act of an individual; the latter is the act of a governmental body, which, in the United States, is presumably democratically elected. When a governmental body decides that the subject of a memorial should no longer be honored because it symbolizes values abhorrent to the community, it has every right to remove it from public property. As I’ve argued before, the removal of statues does not efface history because they don’t teach history. They serve to honor something. To educate a citizenry about the “bad” things in its history, governmental bodies should make sure that these events are taught in schools. Citizens should be encouraged to read history books, visit museums, and attend lectures on the topic.

      We must also keep in mind that one argument against removing the Confederate statues is that it would efface the “heritage” of certain white Americans. Heritage is used often synonymously with history. The heritage they don’t want effaced is one of slavery and treason. That is why the defenders of the statues rarely define what they mean by heritage.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Yes, “heritage” and “culture” in this context are used as synonyms for “white pride” (hence the semiotic quotation marks).

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:23 am | Permalink

      The Ghandi statue in question is in Ghana. What, if anything, did Ghandi do for Ghana?

      RTFA. It was a gift from the Indian state to the Ghanaian state for political purposes.
      Gandhi did start his civil rights work in British-ruled South Africa after training as a lawyer in London. And no doubt his political opinions changed considerably over the years he lived and worked there. He’s probably the single most prominent Indo-African in history (I can’t think of a more prominent one – maybe some cricketer? Maybe the Queen of Sheba – if she existed, and was African.)
      I think Ghana has enough politicians and argumentative people on all sides to argue that one for themselves.

  9. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    In the case of the Confederate statues, I think we have to consider the motivation for their construction. It’s my understanding that many if not all were constructed during the Jim Crow era and during the civil rights movement of the 60s as an expression of resistance to desegregation and civil rights.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Stephen, you put up this comment five times in a row. Assuming that was an error rather than an attempt at emphasis, I’ve removed four of the duplicates.

      And, as I said above, I agree with the removal of the statues you mention. But that leaves the wave to come: Gandhi, Nelson, Columbus, and so on. Those weren’t erected for the reasons you mention.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Sorry. My browser (or the internet) was acting up. In the past WordPress would warn me of that and block duplicate posts.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        I meant by my comment that many Confederate statues are qualitatively different from statues of Gandhi, Nelson, Columbus, et al. by virtue of the motivation behind their display. None of the statues of Columbus are meant to endorse his deplorable treatment of indigenous people. On the other hand, many of the Confederate statues WERE intended to endorse the fight to keep slavery and the resistance to civil rights.

        By the way, contra GM and possibly some others, I believe that the overwhelmingly most important issue leading to the Civil War was the fate of the institution of slavery.

        • GM
          Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          As I clearly noted, the institution of slavery has been conflated with the treatment of black people, which is an enormous mistake.

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted August 26, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            Slavery (of black people) is a subset of the mistreatment of black people.

            I take your point (I think) that the mistreatment of black people wasn’t the zeitgeist of the North at the start of the Civil War, but slavery was foremost in the minds of the South, and the South started the war — over slavery.

            • GM
              Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

              That was part of the point.

              The larger point is that the core issue the war was being fought over was the future economic and political path the country was going to take.

              Slavery mattered to the extent that it was core to the economic model of the South. That it was immoral wasn’t really a core concern, that was used to provide a moral justification for the winners, but both sides were quite thoroughly racist and continued to be so for a century after that. The difference between 85 units of racism and 90 units of racism (making up random numbers of illustrate the point) is not very large.

              And once you see it through that lens, you can start playing alternative history and ask inconvenient questions, such as, for example, what would have happened if the South had won? Perhaps in that alternative history, the US does not become a global empire and its status is something like Brazil today, in which case perhaps there is no WWII, and even if there was, we don’t see all those tens of millions of deaths all over the world (in the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Indochina, Latin America, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places) that happened over the course of the 20th century as a direct result of the actions of the US empire.

              Then we can ask the really inconvenient question of what was the lesser evil in that context. Because a place like Brazil did take another three decades to free its slaves, but nevertheless eventually it did it, without having a civil war over it, and today it is one of the most racially mixed countries in the world with a lot less racial problems than the US (which is not to say that there are none, but it is simply not as polarized as it here; I am not aware of BLM and KKK equivalents with any significant influence in Brazil).

              Of course that alternative history could have never happened because the South had no chance as the North had all the advantages in terms of industrial strength and manpower, and it is soldiers, artillery and machine guns that win wars, not noble ideas (see the comment elsewhere in the thread about how the North had the great ideas).

              • Posted October 4, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                Last time I checked, it was Germany that started WWII. Sept. 1, 1939 is considered its start date, because on that day Nazi Germany invaded Poland. At that time, few thought it possible that the USA would get involved.

    • GM
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      The problem with this is that it is very simplistic to think that the Civil War was fought primarily because of the treatment of black people (yes, it was fought in large part over slavery, but slavery and the treatment of blacks are not the same things; as subsequent history has demonstrated quite well). Nobody has ever invested so much resources and manpower for such noble causes, and nobody ever will.

      To illustrate that with a clearer example, the Holocaust features vastly disproportionately in modern accounts of WWII, when in reality if your answer to the question “Why was WWII fought?” is “The brave American and British soldiers fought against the evil Germans to prevent them from killing the Jews”, you should be immediately given an “F” in whatever history course you’re taking, because you have zero understanding of the subject.

      Anyway, the point is that you cannot separate the subsequent 100 years of Southern history from a full picture of why the Civil War was fought, and if you paint it as a black and white picture of good noble Northerners fighting to liberate the slaves held by those incarnations of pure evil, the Southerners, then you are guaranteed to fail to understand what actually happened.

      And talking about statues only in the context of slavery goes exactly in that direction.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        Very good comparison. Why didn’t I think of that…actually I did but you put it into words. So many people conflate and misunderstand the civil war and so, all the statues are a misunderstanding as well. Another way I look at it is to say, flying that flag is much worse than seeing that statue. We know what you are saying with that flag and it is very clear.

      • Historian
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Of course, the North did not initially resist secession because of the treatment of blacks in the South. It fought to preserve the Union. Every Civil War scholar knows that the North was overwhelmingly racist in pre-Civil War America as well as after. The point, which would take several volumes to thoroughly explain, is that in the course of the war a majority in the North accepted the idea that slavery needed to be abolished. Ultimately, and for varied reasons, not all of them noble, the North (under prodding from Lincoln) did the right thing. This is why Union soldiers should be honored and Confederate soldiers should not.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted August 26, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

          From where you sit today it is easy to say – the Confederate soldiers should not be honored. If you are in charge and you are the very non bigoted northerner in charge. But what about most of the southerners who did not change their position on slavery or at least on their rights for many many years to come. The thousands of bitter southerner who had nothing after the war and lived in dirt poverty for years to come.

          Even Lincoln, who was very much against slavery had no problem joining with the many who wanted to ship the negro back to Africa or someplace because they could never fit in to our society as equals. By the way, many white folks in the north still do not want to do the “right thing”. Morality is a difficult thing to legislate.

          • Posted August 26, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

            Many of those who supported that plan were themselves negroes.

            • GM
              Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

              Yes, and the internal politics of Liberia has been a mess ever since, because the Americo-Liberians held power for more than a century as a small minority ruling over the natives with an open sense of superiority over them.

              • Posted August 27, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

                True, but irrelevant to the anachronistic moralizing against support for resettlement.

            • Eddie Bollenbach
              Posted August 27, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

              Bigotry of low expectations my butt. Where is the evidence that black resentment of statues erected during Jim Crow doesn’t exist? You can provide evidence of how AfricanAmericans feel about the issue by asking them. Your comment about bigotry of low expectations is nonsense without such data.

          • Posted October 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            You can be against slavery and still think that racial diversity puts a strain on society, and wish to avoid that strain.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:38 am | Permalink

        To illustrate that with a clearer example, the Holocaust features vastly disproportionately in modern accounts of WWII,

        Depending on whose figures you believe, WW2 was fought by Russia against Germany (20-27 million casualties in Russia ; around 7 million in Germany) and between China and Japan (15 to 20 million Chinese casualties, about 3 million Japanese) with large casualty counts in Poland (6 million), Indonesia (3-4 million), India (about 2 million), French Indochina (about 2 million) and Yugoslavia (about 1.5 million). The Holocaust involved people from Germany, Poland, a substantial number of Russians, and a variety from Eastern European countries. British and American casualties – under a half-million each. Between Korea and Lithuania in an ordered listing.
        Not that you’d get that idea from popular culture.

  10. Eli Siegel
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    After our war for independence Queen’s College became Rutgers and King’s College became Columbia. There is historical precedent for name changes.

  11. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Jerry’s points for the most part and certainly about statues of historical figures which were erected at or near the time to celebrate actual historical accomplishments. The confederate statues were erected long after the civil war during the struggles against Jim Crow, for voting rights and for civil rights as a fuck you to the Supreme Court and the federal governments which were trying to enforce constitutional rights for black US citizens and to seek justice for victims of lynching. Their main purpose was and as Charlottesville demonstrated still is) as rallying points for the KKK and white supremacist political movements. As such, they should be moved to museums with the backstory of each one prominently displayed with them.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    There’s an actual controversy brewing about a Hitler statue in Warsaw, Poland.

    You can read about it here.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Well that seems to have been stirred up by the leader of a Messianic Jewish ministry.

      ‘Jan Markell, of Olive Tree Ministries, says the work has angered many visitors, who question whether Hitler would ever have prayed’. [Paraphrasing]

      … and I thought Hitler was a good Catholic. 😉

      It certainly isn’t a monument to Hitler.


  13. Fernando
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Aristotle was proslavery. Pass me the hammer. Book burning is next.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.

      (Where one begins by burning books, one will end up burning people.)
      Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823.

  14. Frank Bath
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    There is an ongoing campaign to have the statue of Sir Cecil Rhodes, he of the Rhodes’ Scholarship, at Oxford University removed. The campaigners argue his views were incompatible with an “inclusive culture” at the university.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      You can either have the statue and the scholarship or neither. It’s hypocritical to keep one and tear down the other.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Considering the leader of the campaigners is the most despicable racist asshole I have ever had the displeasure to admit my country birthed, that the statue offends him almost redeems Rhodes to some extent.

  15. GBJames
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it helps to conflate free speech issues with statuary debates. The former is primarily a matter of government not restricting expression. The latter is primarily about government “speech”.

    Most of us here have no problem seeing why latin crosses have no place in the public square. Besides Constitutional matters, religious symbols are wrong on public property because they convey a message of exclusion to everyone who isn’t in the god club.

    Monuments are public statements of what ideas communities decide are worth particular respect. In the case of Confederate monuments, particularly with regard to the context in which they were erected, the ideas that were/are being honored are racially charged expressions of white supremacy. For this reason alone we should remove most of them.

    This has nothing to do with “erasing” history or burning books.

  16. Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    As a Civil War buff, I’ve always thought the North had the great cause and the South had the great generals, at least until Grant and Sherman came along. When visiting the South, I like to look at statues of Lee, Jackson and Forrest whose biographies I have read. Nothing to do with condoning racism.

    • GM
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Those must have been some mighty deadly ideas if they managed to overcome such great generals, kill hundreds of thousands, and win the war 😉

      • Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Well, the North also had superior troop strength, after 1863 anyway. But during the first two years, the Confederate Army survived by superior leadership.

        And the cause did matter. The Union soldiers throughout understood they were fighting to preserve the Nation, whereas the Confederate soldier eventually figured out he was fighting and dying to protect the slaveowner’s property. There was no Gettysburg Address to inspire the Confederate soldier.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:47 am | Permalink

        No differences in industrial production capability? (Not being American – I really don’t have more than a vague idea. I remember the civil war dates as being just after the Indian Mutiny and between “Origin” and radio waves.)

    • Trevor H
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      That’s your view based on your story, others have different stories

  17. Randy schenck
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    It is all an example of twisted history and a sure fire way to not understand history for what it was and instead want to cover it over with your new version of history. Look at those poor people back in the early 1800s who were so ignorant and seemed to have no knowledge of what goes on around them. Could this lack of knowledge have anything to do with the lack of mobility. No roads or autos to travel around. No phones, no electricity, no indoor plumbing or television. My g*d, no internet? Understand the period you are in before judging the performance or lack thereof. We have no problem having sympathy for the poor in our surroundings today but have none for thousands who lived is worse conditions two hundred years ago.

    Think of it. We had a President more than 150 years ago who had no formal education at all and he is considered the best we ever had. Yet today, we have one with the best education money can buy and he is the worst we ever had.

  18. Fernando
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Ken Ham’s ark a monument to genocide? Has to come down.

    • Trevor H
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Nah, a monument to ignorance…

      • Kevin
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink


        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:49 am | Permalink

          Organising a good thorough-going genocide probably takes significant logistical skill. Even the mythically efficient Germans had to build and test prototype gas chambers and crematoria. Then re-design them in light of experimental results.

  19. Phil
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t particularly bother me to see a statue like this. What bother me is that it serves as a rallying point for Nazis and white supremacists. I think many municipalities see it as an invitation for them to gather here to express their hateful rhetoric rather than somewhere else. I’d be happy to see them go somewhere else.

  20. Robert Bray
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    As for memorials of Columbus, they are too deeply rooted in our hemisphere’s history and culture to be torn out even by the angriest of popular movements. Nonetheless, Columbus, that Italian, represented their Most Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, of Spain, and first helped establish the nascent Spanish empire in the ‘New World.’ That empire became one of the first and most horrendous practitioners of genocide in modern world history. Nothing can palliate this truth, which glares blackly from behind every statue, every Columbus Day holiday or other commemoration (‘Knights of Columbus,’ etc.), every grammar school lesson in ‘1492.’

    Not far from PCCE’s digs is the site of the 1893 ‘World’s Columbian Exposition,’ still perhaps the grandest thing of its type ever mounted in the developed world. As far as I know, only two erections from the original buildings survive. One is the Museum of Science and Industry, a noble classical structure housing a marvelous collection of exhibits; and, a bit further south and toward the Lake, the gilded statue of ‘Columbia.’ The first of these two is a model of appropriate repurposing. But what of the second?

    Why cannot Euro-Americans, especially those who count their genealogies in the U. S. in terms of centuries, not even yet be morally strong enough to recognize that their ancestors founded this nation unjustly while claiming it would be, indeed came to be, the most just nation ever founded? Of course, I’m thinking not of the Spanish empire here but of our well-nigh unforgivable treatment of Africans brought into slavery and Indigenous Peoples driven nearly to extinction.

    The truth must be taught, or the Big Lies will continue to prevail! Every memorial tells the story its builders wanted. The counter-narrative is often truer. Let the statue, the holiday, the organizations stand. But tell the truth!

    • Posted August 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always found it very odd that the US is all into Columbus, a guy who never even set foot in their country.

      Mind you, we here in Canada also have British Columbia (and part of the river where it gets its name).

      • David
        Posted August 29, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Columbus/Colon never set foot in the North America because he didn’t know it was there.He thought Cuba was a peninsula of China or perhaps India. He did visit Central America and South America.

  21. Randy schenck
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    It is also interesting to look at the civil war and think some Generals were good but many were not and so the statues of each should be based on this thinking. The fact is, almost all the generals were pretty poor and certainly not trained for the situation they found themselves in. Never before had generals been required to manage such large numbers of soldiers and in such antiquated circumstances. Nearly impossible to do at this time. They had no tactics to match the weapons and simply marched to the slaughter. Everyone of them did this. Just move 50 years forward to WWI and it was worse so what did they do – they dug ditches. The north won the civil war for some of the same reasons we won WWII – with civilian industrial power.

  22. Historian
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    “Why cannot Euro-Americans, especially those who count their genealogies in the U. S. in terms of centuries, not even yet be morally strong enough to recognize that their ancestors founded this nation unjustly while claiming it would be, indeed came to be, the most just nation ever founded?”

    Indeed. You have come to the nub of the matter. Unfortunately, most white people and perhaps all people, find it psychologically difficult to shed themselves of the myths that are at the core of their group’s identity. It is analogous to a person finding out most suddenly that her grandfather was a rapist, although he always treated her with the greatest kindness. She would probably have great difficulty accepting this knowledge. People and societies have the problem of facing realities about the past, but it is not impossible. The removal of the Confederate statues is one step in the American nation’s quest to face reality.

    I think I disagree with you on statues of Columbus. He may have been an intrepid explorer, but so were many others. Does his exploring exploits outweigh what he did once he got to the New World to such an extent that he should be honored by public monuments? Local communities should make that decision just as they should decide what to do with any memorial on public property.

    • Historian
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Sorry. This in response to Robert Bray #20.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      That was the value of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa after apartheid. It’s also the reason Lincoln sought to welcome the South back, without the equivalent of war crimes trials (and why generals like Grant and Sherman sought to prosecute “a hard war, to secure a soft peace”). I’m all but certain that, had Lincoln lived, the nation would have been spared the tribulations of the post-Reconstruction era and Jim Crow.

      • Historian
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        It is impossible to say what Lincoln would have done had he survived. In fact, when he was assassinated the war wasn’t even officially over despite Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. It wasn’t until May 26, 1865 that General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the last significant Confederate army. The idea that if Lincoln had lived and offered a “soft peace” the North and South would have joined in a Kumbaya moment, resulting in peace and harmony, thus avoiding the “hard peace” imposed on the South by Radical Republicans in Congress. This is “Lost Cause” bullshit that historians have rejected for about half a century. Many historians now argue that Reconstruction failed not because it was too hard, but that it was too soft, the result being that white supremacy in the South was quickly restored after Reconstruction ended in 1877. And the view that the South would have cozied up to Lincoln had he lived is nonsense in my view since it had so thoroughly demonized him for five years. The South would also not have cottoned to Lincoln’s Reconstruction plan, formulated in the last months of his life, to encourage African-American suffrage. Lincoln’s views on race had changed dramatically over the course of the war, in a direction that would not have made the former Confederates happy at all.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 26, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          I’m not suggesting at all that there would’ve been a “Kumbaya moment” had Lincoln lived, only that he would’ve negotiated the difficult post-war terrain much better than did Andrew Johnson (who was, after all, sympathetic to slavery as well as being an incompetent hack). And I agree that Reconstruction turned out to be too soft.

          I don’t think most Americans appreciate what a devil’s bargain was struck following the election of 1876 to give the presidency to Rutherford Hayes and to end Reconstruction. It left the former slaves at the mercy of the Redeemers, who were intent on returning to a system as close to slavery as was possible without one human being being legal entitled to own another, and it set the stage for the Lost Cause mythology.

        • Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          The oligarchs of the South started the war; they should have been neutralized. Instead, they were placed right back in control of things by the oligarchs of the North.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:53 am | Permalink

          It is impossible to say what Lincoln would have done had he survived.

          Did he leave no papers? Were there no minuted cabinet (whatever the USian equivalent is) meetings over what to do when the war is over?
          Bureaucracy is the pleasure of historians.

  23. Kevin
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Good grief. Let’s just tear every white or brown man’s statues down.

  24. dd
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne writes:

    “As I said, virtually all white men before about 1920 were white supremacists…”

    1. How about white women?

    2. Could someone please write a couple of sentences regarding what white supremacy is? I have tried reading about it, but the phrase is used so broadly now.

    And seriously,
    Is the germ theory of disease an example of white supremacy?

    • Barney
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      The vice president of the CSA explains white supremacy:

      “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

      I presume “And seriously,
      Is the germ theory of disease an example of white supremacy?”
      is some form of joke, though I’m not sure who would actually laugh at it.

      • dd
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        No, that was not a joke about white supremacy. And that phrase is being used time and again and in situations far removed from what the CSA articulated.

        BTW, the greatest income gap in the US is not between whites and blacks, but between Asians and blacks.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:58 am | Permalink

          No, that was not a joke about white supremacy.

          OK : the germ theory was composed between a Frenchman (Pasteur) and a German (Koch) in quite unfriendly rivalry (both were of their respective nations, which fought war in the appropriate time frame. Almost certainly both were white supremacists by todays standards, and alost certainly neither would have considered that to be anything like as important as that they were French (German) and proud of it.
          Yes, there were predecessor theories, and contributions since, but that’s a high-level view.

    • toni j.
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      White privilege is neither an insult nor an accusation; it is simply a measurable gap with real-world implications. It is the fiscal and economic disparity of black vs. white in the U.S.

      • Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        ‘Privilege’ is most certainly not measurable.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          In part, statistically, it surely is.

          • Posted August 27, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

            Numerous (small ‘p’) ‘privileges’ — economic status, family functionality, physical attractiveness — provide tangible advantages to individuals. A class-applied (capital ‘P’) Privilege, as but a reification of a cultural marxist neologism, is so inchoate as to be inapplicable in practice, offering no explanatory power. I’ve yet to see a definition, much less quantification, of Privilege™ that is not self-referential.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted August 27, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps it refers to you?

  25. dd
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    One more note, please keep in mind that these statues are also works of art. Some good and some well, kitsch.

    Why is that so rarely discussed? It’s as if they are nothing but bumper stickers.

  26. Fernando
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    According to the U.S. State Department, there are more slaves around the world today than at any time in recorded history: 27 million men, women and children around the world are victims of “human trafficking.”

    But the statues.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      What part of slacktivism don’t you get?

  27. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t buy the slippery slope argument regarding Confederate statues. A bright line can be delineated regarding those who committed treason by taking up arms against the nation in defense of chattel slavery. And the remedy for the Confederate statues is not to destroy them or prevent their display, but to remove them from the courthouses, and town squares, and other inappropriate places (where many were erected by White Citizens’ Councils to intimidate black citizens from agitating for their constitutional rights) to museums and cemeteries and battlefields and other appropriate places.

    I do, however, object to those statues being shrouded in the meantime (as has been done with the controversial statue of R.E. Lee in Charlottesville VA). So long as those statues remain in public spaces like parks, citizens should be able to see them. Shrouding them smacks of puritanism — the same type of puritanism that led former Attorney General John Ashcroft to cover Lady Justice’s nakedness on her statue at Main Justice.

  28. Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Clearly if Nelson comes down, statues of Nelson Mandela must be next.

    After all, Mandela’s very name celebrates white supremacism.

  29. Posted August 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    When you tear down a single statue anywhere to placate these violent Bolsheviks, you are paying “Danegeld”, i.e., akin to the bribes paid to Danish Vikings to persuade them away from pillaging and killing Ireland and Britain. Never worked. As Kipling put it:

    “Never pay anyone Danegeld,
    no matter how trifling the cost.
    For the name of that game is oppression and shame. And the nation that plays it is lost.”

    Where is the end of the “slippery slope” that starts with taking down a few “offensive” statues? At each and every step, there is always something else, something more that is even more offensive and must be eliminated. I suppose we would eventually slide all the way down the slippery slope to the enslavement or murder of all supposed descendants of slaveholders wouldn’t we? And we can all easily recognize those people!

    Wait! That explains the sympathy of the hard Left for ISIS, doesn’t it? Shared goals!

    Of course, it won’t go that far. At some point, a civil war would intervene, if that’s what it takes. So much better if right now, we had some “authorities” with enough authority to just say “no” and back it up with enough force to do the job. Touch the statue and pay the price.

    And I suppose that is how people start thinking that it would be “so much better” to put some authoritarians in charge. And that is why democracies are always doomed, in the end, especially when you try to cobble them together with people of wildly different cultures and values.

    • John Crisp
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Danegeld and Violent Bolsheviks? Love it. A couple of thousand years cheerfully compressed into an instant and then stretched in space from Northern Europe to England to Russia to America. And then Kipling – you missed the opportunity to mention the White Man’s Burden…

  30. watson
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I apologize if I’m repeating a thought here, but I haven’t read every comment.

    My own opinion is that communities should make individual decisions regarding statues, memorials and other works. I prefer to ignore things I don’t agree with, because I support the rights of others. It’s been a lively topic of conversation lately, and just yesterday a friend of mine helped me to see another perspective. Something I didn’t know is that many of the Confederate statues, such as the one of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, were commissioned in the 1920s when there was a revival of the KKK, fierce debate over Jim Crow laws, and in general a more active expression of the supremacy of whites. In the south in particular, these statues may be seen as more of a memorial to the “know your place” movement of the 1920s than a memorial to the skill of a Confederate general. If that is the case, and I’ll leave it to those impacted to express their own thoughts, it seems reasonable for individual communities to make a majority decision to remove a statue.

    With that said, I also believe that if Japanese Americans were more vocal about what happened to them during WWII, we would see less of FDR’s good qualities over time. We would begin to consider him a racist. As time passes and we see historical figures from a greater distance, their lives and actions and decisions are reduced to a couple of bullet points. Lincoln, as president-elect, verbally supported the Corwin Amendment. Today he is the Great Emancipator to most (although in the last few years there has been more frank discussion about Lincoln and his legacy).

    Everything is more complex than remembered.

    What distresses me about this situation, beyond the statues, is the overly emotional, shrill tone of both sides, and the bully stance of both extremes. Civilized society is supposed to be better than that. What did the civil rights activists fight for in the 1960s if we are less enlightened now?

    • Historian
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I suspect very readers know what the Corwin amendment was. During what has been called “secession winter,” there were frantic efforts to reach a compromise that would have reconciled the sections. Of course, all such efforts failed. The Corwin amendment was a proposed 13th amendment that in direct opposition to the actual 13sth amendment ratified after the end of the war would have guaranteed through an unamendable constitutional amendment that Congress could never interfere with slavery in the states where it already existed. This amendment, unopposed by Lincoln, actually passed Congress, but was never ratified by the requisite number of states. Lincoln didn’t oppose the Corwin Amendment because at that time he was committed to stopping the expansion of slavery, not ending it. When hostilities began, the Corwin Amendment was quickly forgotten. Indeed, by September 1862, after the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. He worked the rest of his life to get the real 13th Amendment ratified, which took place after his death on December 6, 1865. Lincoln’s political and social views radically changed over the course of the war.

      By the way, this is why I love this site. On what other site that attracts people with extraordinarily different backgrounds and professional experiences could something as obscure as the Corwin Amendment be discussed?

      • watson
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        I didn’t realize that it was such an obscure bit of history. How interesting, and thank you for including so much additional detail. This is a wonderful place to exchange knowledge and ideas.

  31. Charles Wenger
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    In fourteen hundred ninety-two. Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He had three ships and left … That’s as much as I ever got to really know about Columbus even through my university years, it wasn’t till this year when I took it upon myself to read up on the explorer. I certainly understand why they didn’t expand more on Columbus’s time in the new world when I first learned the poem, he was a genocidal mass murderer who cut the hands off of underperforming conscripts. Maybe they founders of my city might have given a second thought before they picked such a checkered personage to idolize, someone they wouldn’t have to turn their heads when they mumble their apologies.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Well, all most people know of Columbus is he ‘dicovered America’. So everything since, including the atom bomb and President Trump, is all his fault. If only he’d kept his mouth shut… 😉

      I assume you live in Columbus, Ohio. It would seem a bit futile to remove the statue without also renaming the city. That seems a bit extreme (though the Russians did with Stalingrad, now Volgograd. Ironically, the Paris Metro still has a station named Stalingrad, I presume comemmorating the battle rather than the city. It’s more difficult to rename a past battle than a city, I guess).


  32. S.K.Graham
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the potential “wave” of removals of other statues/monuments (aside from Ghandi/Ghana that I addressed above):

    Columbus in particular was a nasty individual. There is no particularly good reason not to correct the record, not to stop mythologizing him, and not to stop honoring him.

    In general, it is entirely appropriate for the citizens/members of any town, organization, or society to reconsider whom they honor with monuments and statues, particular as awareness of history grows.

    Removing statues does not in any way erase history and statues do not teach history. We have historians and history books (and history websites and videos) to do that.

    Statues function to honor and commemorate — they provide secular “shrines” to some event or person or institution. As such, they are subject to being revised or replaced according to the needs, values, and understanding of the people of the communities in which they are erected.

  33. toni j.
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Dr. “C”, with respect to your question, until very recently, for the most part, brown Americans have had little say as to who was memorialized and for what reason(s), giving us no opportunity to express anger or resentment. In my opinion,(based on data relative to the erection of said statues), the majority weren’t erected as some somber postbellum remembrance of a brutal war, but rather as symbols of the white terror exacted against blacks in order to subdue and terrorize them while maintaining Southern white supremacy.


    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Always take SPLC assertions with a grain of salt. That report’s “List of Publicly Supported Spaces Dedicated to the Confederacy” in California includes the municipality of Fort Bragg, and Johnston Street in LA.

      Fort Bragg got its name from the pre-civil war military outpost commanded by a certain Captain Braxton Bragg, who later did become a confederate general.

      Johnston St. was not named after confederate general A.S. Johnston, but rather his son, Hancock M. Johnston, one of the founders of Los Angeles.

  34. Marty Lonn
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like the idea of them being removed by mob rule, but I can see no reason to want to glorify the Confederacy. Unless of course you agree with what they fought for, which in their own words was largely to preserve slavery. I don’t buy the argument that removing them and putting them in a proper context, such as a museum, is erasing history.

  35. Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Just last week, I was mocked for predicting that Columbus would be next.

  36. Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Statues, books, history, instruments of torture (CC gladly letting those slide from view)are being sidelined and thrown out at a continual and steady rate.
    No, i don’t know that for sure but you can’t buy a Noddy and Bigears children’s book (gay)or a Golliwog doll (racist) anymore. Japanese late history has got the DON’T mention the war! Basil Faulty effect going on. Things unsavoury are disappearing and to some extent it’s appropriate to lift our game, does history need to strangle us to prove it has a point?
    So just because it’s made of copper and hard big freaking deal. Is mortar and steel needed to convey a history, mortar and steel are not the act or ideology that made somewhere like Dachau infamous. I would have thought it is ubiquitous knowledge in history of that horror that would be of more value than hard memorials.
    If you were interned in that camp would you want to go back there as it is?
    or would you rather see a tribute to their lives, like a park full of life in it’s place?
    Perhaps you may think the horror would be diluted in some way.
    Anyhow, statues?
    No General did anything by his lonesome so why shove his arse on a plinth and call him a hero. It took a lot of dead and maimed and stuffed survivers… freek the general. He is part of a whole conflict so how do you throw the lot out? You can’t but you can take the focus off him and give the big picture.
    Like Noddy and Golliwog… it’s off to Wikipedia General! flawed, warts and all.

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    “I see these statues sort like I see free speech: if they’re offensive, ignore them”
    … “I wouldn’t even be bothered by seeing a statue of Adolf Hitler. It commemorates a dreadful time and a dreadful man, but serves to remind everyone of what happened then”.

    Well said, and I tend to think the same way. I’m marvellously pleased if I come upon a statue of someone I like – say the statute of John Betjeman in St Pancras Station – and if it’s someone I deplore, I can ignore it. If of Hitler, I’d regard it as a curiosity.

    Many of the stations on the Trans-Siberian railway line have statues in front of them, often of local dignitaries or governors of a century ago. Probably most of them, being in positions of power, did regrettable things to some people; but the statues add local colour as far as I’m concerned. The station would be a little less interesting without them.

    The war memorial submarine S-56 in Vladivostok still has a framed photo of Stalin on the wardroom wall. Historically accurate, I wouldn’t want it removed. There’s a statue of Solzhenitsyn on the quayside 50 yards away.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      That said, if there are General Lee’s all over the South, and they were erected comparatively recently for political reasons, that changes the case. Each one ceases to be of unique local interest, and the case against them is stronger.


    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      Many of the stations on the Trans-Siberian railway line have statues in front of them,

      When I was courting the wife a thousand or so kilometres up a branch line to the “Trans-Siberian Railway”, we were walking to the “Aghanitz” (an indoor market set up to provide work for the heroic crippled veterans from the Afghan Campaign of the 198s) and went past the town’s memorial to the dead of the Great Patriotic War. (That’s World War 2 to you and me.) Nothing unusual – black polished diorite, eternal flame, dozens of little pots of flowers commemorating family members who died in one part or another of the cuntry during the war. No special day (mid-April, -30C at midday).
      The town was founded in about 1972.
      The Russians take their war memorials very very much more seriously than any other people I’ve met.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      I am afraid I should not regard a statue of Hitler as a curiosity if it were in a public place and not in some museum dedicated to historical studies, or a museum dedicated to showing what was perpetrated under Naziism. Context is important.

  38. Hrafn
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    I see statues as not so much the text of history books, as the highlighter pen. Adding or removing them is not so much about changing what happened as changing what bits we emphasise and/or celebrate.

  39. Daniel
    Posted August 27, 2017 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Right or wrong, I don’t know, so I’m mostly just thinking out loud. I would remove all statues from public property. If private persons want to pay for land, statues, and maintenance entirely on their own, then that is free speech to place disgusting public symbols on their own property. It’s like religious displays on public property. Either different points of view are allowed, or no points of view are allowed on public property. A private party has the First Amendment right to say anything they want on their own property. On government property, private individuals generally have the same right, and should have the same right, to say anything they want on public property, but they have no right to place permanent structures on the public property, without government permission.

  40. Tim Harris
    Posted August 27, 2017 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Why are statues of political figures made and then erected in public spaces? It may be that certain statues have an aesthetic value that goes beyond what they represent or symbolise, but that is beside the point: they are first of all erected because of their political significance, because they stand for a certain political story and certain political values, an acceptance of which is regarded as being the correct thing to do by public-spirited and patriotic citizens. They are also an assertion of power, of who is in control, and are designed in some cases at least not so much to commemorate as to intimidate, to show who’s boss – statues of Stalin, of Saddam Hussein, et al. They are not, and never were intended to be, innocent, or thought to exist in some kind of aesthetic or merely commemorative and safely ‘historical’ vacuum, detached from public life. They are a public affirmation of certain ‘values’. There has been a constant debate for over a century in Britain about Cromwell’s statue at Westminster.

    For history itself is not some detached academic study listing who did what and when, but lives within us now. The racism that is so strong and obvious aspect of American political and social life is obviously nothing like it was, but it is a powerful force for injustice, and is being perpetuated by a variety of means that are a continuation of Jim Crow, one notable means being Republican gerrymandering. The right in America is after all not exactly invisible,as the GOP’s policies, the Charlottesville business and Trump’s subsequent remarks, as well as his ‘pardoning’ of Sheriff Arpaio show.

    As a European, I should be very alarmed if there were still statues of Hitler studded about Germany, as I would be appalled if there were in Japan statues of Ishii Shiro commemorating him as a pioneer of science.

    Forgive me for saying this, but I wonder whether Professor Coyne, had he been living in Germany in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, would have spoken up then against the removal of statues and signs celebrating Nazi values (there were, it seems, no public statues of Hitler – the man disliked the idea of them)?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 5:19 am | Permalink

      There has been a constant debate for over a century in Britain about Cromwell’s statue at Westminster.

      Another “when I was courting the wife” story – after spinning on the London Eye, we walked through Westminster to Buck House, and on the way I stopped off to nod acknowledgement to Cromwell. Not in celebration of his bigoted Puritan Christianity and massacres of Britons, Irish and anyone who disagreed with him, but because he chopped the head off a king and spread a lesson that power is not (and should not be) unaccountable.
      Yeah, Chuck-2 repaid the compliment by cutting Cromwell’s head of. But Cromwell was several years dead at the time an beyond caring.
      Then on to be squirrel-mugged on the way to Buck House.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        I also would stop to acknowledge Cromwell for chopping off a bad and foolish king’s head. In warm agreement!

  41. Posted August 27, 2017 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Statues are part of our history and history is often offensive, really offensive. But it is history and I feel that statues are also a piece of historical art, and if only we could admire that side of them, rather than the idea of what they might or might not represent. We don’t have to celebrate them, as most people would not celebrate bigotry or hatred. And if they do, we should deal with their behaviour, not that of an inanimate object.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 4:58 am | Permalink

      ‘a piece of historical art’ – by which you mean that they are dead twice over: they are ‘history’, in the sense of something gone and done with, and they are ‘art’, in the sense of existing in some aesthetic realm beyond the ravages of time and the ugliness of history. I thank Whatever for writers like Shakespeare & Marlowe & Marvell & Milton & Blake & Mark Twain & Dickens, and artists like Goya & Gericault & Picasso who were not politically naive and used their art to explore political matters and the nature of justice, and whose work does not exist in that tidy and inoffensive aesthetic realm to which some people would like to relegate them.

  42. Tom
    Posted August 27, 2017 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Since “offensive” statues must include those of Jesus and by implication the Cross (lacking a Jesus) which seems to be a compromise to avoid frightening children and those of a nervous disposition, can we all indulge in a bit of image smashing?
    From here in fusty old ex imperialist Europe it appears that Americas cultural elite may have now have caught the European carefully cultured, polite society disease of living in the past instead of coming to terms with the unchangeable.
    All nations have a civil rights problem but only America seems determined to link todays struggle for civil rights with the slave owning political system which was defeated and discredited a century and a half ago. Perhaps it is time to move on.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 27, 2017 at 3:07 am | Permalink

      I think there is no need for (white) Americans to pity themselves and suppose that they are the only ones in this terrible predicament of having to deal with statues – particularly when they made so much of the pulling down of a statue of Saddam Hussein after the invasion of Iraq. In Romania, there was a drive in recent years to remove statues of Ion Antonescu, the fascist dictator and murderer of Jews and gypsies (you can find a story about it on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency dating from 2002), with opposition from a resurgent right and support from Romanian Jews. And those who know something of American history are aware that, alas, although the ‘slave owning political system’ was defeated, it was not discredited. You might look at Wikipedia’s article on lynchings in America (the last, it seems, was in 1982). Or look into the history of Jim Crow. Or look into the difficulties that African-Americans still labour under.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted August 27, 2017 at 3:23 am | Permalink

        And is not the word ‘move on’, so beloved of politicians, a euphemism for ‘let’s ignore any difficult issue that comes up and plump for the status quo’?

        • Tim Harris
          Posted August 27, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          I find so odd this assumption, which one comes across again and again, that if there is some nice exact date that seems to provide a nice, exact cut-off point, then things must have been nicely and exactly cut off there, and we can regard all problems involving these things as happily resolved and without any subsequent issue.

  43. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 27, 2017 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Very little comment on Nelson, so here’s a tanner’s worth.
    It’s almost certain, just from his dates, that Nelson was a “white supremacist” by the standards of today. As a Naval officer, he almost certainly had men flogged – quite possibly to death. He’d have been considered derelict in his duties if he hadn’t had a fair number flogged to unconsciousness, revived, and then the flogging continued. Which would make him a torturer, by today’s standards.
    But by the standards of his time, he was considered a fair, humane officer. And the reason he got put up on a pole (and various other commemorations) wasn’t that he was a bigot, or a sadist, but that he was a successful military campaigner. By the standards of today, and of his time.
    If that deserves celebration (“IF” ; see my comments upthread on the Russian war memorials), that’s one question. Should it be done without remembering the sailors who fought and died under his orders – I’d certainly support the latter.
    There is a long-running (since about 2 decades before the USian Civil War) debate, sometimes acrimonious, over what to put onto the 4th plinth (statue base) in Trafalgar Square. Currently it’s occupied by a changing set of artworks, averaging about 18months in place each. Which is a solution. I’d propose a memorial to “Jack Tar” of the time as a suitable permanent occupant for the plinth, and if someone wished to model the statue on (say) an American escaped negro slave who died at Trafalgar, I’d be pretty surprised if there was no historical character to base it on. If Nelson deserves remembering, then so does “Jack Tar”.
    You can extend the same logic to the controversial Rhodes statue in Oxbridge. Or is it Camford? As has been aired before here, the solution to offensive speech is more speech, not silence.
    (Sadly, if I had to put money on it, I’d expect plinth 4 to end up with a statue of Queen Brenda once she stiffs out and is replaced by Prince BigEars. Even Oliver “Bigot” Cromwell would be preferable, and I’d spit in his eye.)

  44. Posted August 27, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Orwell’s statue ( will fall foul of his (ordinary for the time) homophobic views?

  45. Posted August 27, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Why is this problematic? These statues were usually put up through public subscription or were gifts (like the Statue of Liberty). If they fall out of favor, they get moved to an obscure section of a public park, possibly with a a plaque added telling the story of the move. I do not approve of the destruction of works of art but keeping them as teaching moments solves this quandary.

    On Sat, Aug 26, 2017 at 11:31 AM, Why Evolution Is True wrote:

    > whyevolutionistrue posted: “This was inevitable, and talk about slippery > slopes! I can see where some “slippery slope” argument are fallacious, like > those who oppose assisted suicide for terminal patients on the grounds that > it will lead to government genocide, but the Argument from” >

  46. Tim Harris
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    ‘I think we need to at least discuss why “hate speech” is permissible while “hate statues” are not.’ (Professor CC, above)

    This is late, but I should really like to see a serious discussion as to whether or not hate speech is permissible. I see no reason why anti-Semitic chants by neo-Nazis should be regarded as protected by the principle of free speech, any more than I see why the preachings of the imam who filled those boys in Barcelona with a hatred towards kaffirs and a desire for a murderous and suicidal ‘martyrdom’ should be protected by this principle.

    ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones…’, etc – but the nursery rhyme is naive, as I think John Stuart Mill is (as is Kant – another intellectual – is in his lucubrations on lying). Words DO break people’s bones. Speech is not reducible to a discussion among reasonable and educated people at a high table (things would be much simpler if they were). Speech is also, and much more fundamentally, about power: about extending your personal power so that others work for you or support you, about seizing and holding power, about inspiring, attracting, intimidating, terrifying or crushing others… And if you can do it with words, you may not need those sticks and stones.

    In one of her books, Cicely Berry, the former voice coach at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, worked sometimes at prisons, and she remarked that young prisoners, who are mostly from the working class, understand immediately and viscerally what Shakespeare’s language is doing, whereas nicely brought-up and well-educated middle-class young people do to – they assume it’s literature: and so something exists in an innocuous aesthetic and intellectual sphere where the most you need to understand things is a dictionary. But speech is dangerous.

    The use of speech to lie and appeal to prejudice has of course led to Brexit and the election of Trump. One curious thing, for a non-American like me, is the absolutism to which Americans seem to be prone, so that the principle of free speech is sacred and inviolable, whatever the circumstances; and its sacredness is bolstered by the insistence that it is quintessentially – and, seemingly sometimes, solely – ‘American’, as in that advertisement in support of free speech with a white baby and an American flag which created a fracas, or in that sign, also with an American flag and a declaration of American-ness held aloft by a young woman at a demonstration. Karl Popper, who experienced the take-over of his country by the intolerant, raised some interesting questions about tolerating the intolerant…

    • Posted August 28, 2017 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      Speech has never broken bones. Ever. People have broken bones by using heavy and / or quick moving things that break bones. Nature has broken bones with land slides, falling trees, tornadoes, angry bears, etc. Speech just doesn’t have that power.
      There is no such thing as an irresistible impulse. To blame speech for the actions of violent men, is to take away man’s responsibility for his own actions. The vile racist can call for genocide and/or oppression all day long. It only matters if society heeds him or her. Absolutism is fine if it is based in reality…such as the fact that speech doesn’t break bones and/or force anyone to do anything.
      It’s just the expression of thoughts inside one’s head and no one should be FORCED to keep quiet by law or other means. That is OPPRESSION. I find it elitist and laughable that somehow freedom of speech should only be permissible at the so called “high table” with people who all agree with each other on the “important things”” no doubt.
      The same, pseudo-intellectual “high table” that brought us the “progressiveness” or Eugenics and “White man’s burden”. Imagine if only the “high table” had been able to speak and have freedom of press here in the United States. Then surely those nasty abolitionists that formed the Republican party would never have happened. Surely there never would have been a cessation to slavery, because there never would have been the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln or anyone else to come along and shake the foundations of things.
      Men who were ready to kill other men to make sure that an oppressive way of life went away, even if the idea of it never does. Thank God for those men.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted August 28, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        Oh dear. I should read a little history, and about how people gain power. You might look at how the present president of the Philippines gained power. Yes, speech needs an answering echo in people’s breasts, and it generally finds it, as that imam’s words found an answer in some foolish boys’ breasts. I also think you should re-read carefully my point about high tables, for I think you have misunderstood it. As for myself, I think the simplicities of some nursery rhymes at least might be thought about at least.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted August 28, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

          remove final ‘at least’.

          • Tim Harris
            Posted August 28, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            But I have just discovered at Alternet, an interesting (because practical and not theoretical and idealistic and starry-eyed) article that qualifies, to an extent, what I am saying above:

            Profiling White Supremacists Won’t Stop White Supremacist Terrorism:
            A former undercover FBI agent explains.

            By Leon Neyfakh

            • Posted September 2, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

              That article says that ideas DON’T cause people to be violent and therefore don’t break bones…therefore free speech should not be banned.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 2, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

                The article does not actually say that. What it lays out is precisely what its headline – ‘Profiling White Supremacists Won’t Stop White Supremacist Terrorism’ – adumbrates. Its point is that most people in the White Supremacist movement are more interested in simply advancing their cause through speech, whereas those who actually carry out terrorist acts are generally petty criminals who have attached themselves to the movement. Therefore, the former FBI agent asserts, it is not worth wasting time and energy on monitoring the non-criminal ‘ordinary members’ and efforts should be focussed on the criminal elements who attach themselves to the movement. Which is why I said it qualified what I had previously said, but it seems that you missed my saying that or averted your eyes from what I said.

                And that said, White Supremacism as a political movement is, as its name announces, a racist movement that seeks the ascendancy of the white ‘race’ over races that it considers inferior – which is to say, if it does gain power, it will seek through various means, some of which will necessarily be violent, to subjugate and keep in subjugation other races. It is fortunately not so powerful at present as to be close to gaining power, and so can be tolerated as not yet posing a serious threat to the polity. Fostering hatred for others is also ultimately incitement to hatred. The hate-speech that is poured into young Muslims, often from a very early age, in Saudi-inspired madrassas and by (mainly) Saudi-inspired imams has, as we have seen recently, very unpleasant consequences.

  47. Tim Harris
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    too many mistakes in that. Sorry; but one is important:

    ‘whereas nicely brought-up and well-educated middle-class young people do NOT – they assume it’s literature’

  48. Tim Harris
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    whereas nicely brought-up and well-educated middle-class young people do NOT – they assume it’s literature: and so something THAT exists in an innocuous aesthetic and intellectual sphere

  49. David
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    One symbol of oppression can be found in Merida, Yucatan.The Conquistador on the facade of the Francisco de Montejo house stands upon the heads of Indians. It doesn’t take much guess work to infer that the Maya suffered mightily at the hands of the Spaniards.

    Why is it still there? A work of art or simply Ennui as in odio, as in in odio habeo or ‘I hold in hatred.’

  50. Posted August 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    We have watched with horror as the Taliban destroyed irreplaceable artifacts of its past, then saw ISIS (or ISIL or DAESH if you prefer) do the same thing in Syria. The Taliban saw Buddhism as incompatible with their contemporary religious/political propaganda line and so destroyed its semblances (monumental statutes of the Buddha) regardless of aesthetic or historical value. We recoiled in disgust.
    Now we are doing the same thing, destroying cultural remnants of our past because they offend the current, propaganda-enforced attitude. This is new bigotry supplanting old bigotry, nothing more. It can go on, always forcing out any reminder that people once had different ideas and extirpating the notion that conflicting ideas should be allowed, even respected. But it’s disturbing because it turns the U.S. into the model of the fascist and totalitarian states it has employed such violence to destroy. Why fight to destroy a Nazi or Communist government if we are just going to emulate them ourselves?

  51. Jawaharlal Prasad
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    The statue of Gandhi was presented to Ghana as a token of friendship. Gandhi was not regarded as saintly person or “Mahatma” when he went to South Africa. He was a family man involved in legal activities. His views on Blacks were not dissimilar to that of others. And so, it was not uncommon to talk about Blacks in insulting language. It was South Africa that eventually changed Gandhi for better through the experiences that he went through. Which is why he was able to accomplish a lot of positive deeds? The liberals, the leftists and all those who malign Gandhi now forget that Gandhi was very much an open person always under the scrutiny of media, intellectuals and the common person. One can always take statements or comments out of context and malign a person. Gandhi realized the difficulties ahead of him – to bring independence and also to reform Hindu (Indian) society also. To do this thru’ non-violence is a huge challenge.
    No wonder leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa and many others spoke highly of Gandhi. Gandhi was first and foremost a human being who strived hard to uplift himself and humanity. Erasing racism and casteism will take many generations.
    University of Ghana should have allowed the statue of Gandhi to stay. They made a big mistake!

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