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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Time does tell

Tearing down the statues is the topic du jour -- or so it seems.

It began with the tearing down of the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston in Bristol.  Francine Howarth, historical novelist, wrote an impassioned opinion, which aroused a huge amount of comment on facebook.

Personally, I am against the tearing down of history.  I was sad when the statue of Robert E. Lee was destroyed, as he was a true hero in his time.  He just happened to fight on the wrong side.

In Japan, I was intrigued to find secretive memorials to the kamikaze pilots.  But why shouldn't they be remembered?  They, too, were on the wrong side.  Their courage is undoubted.

But, as British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, described so eloquently in 1818, it all makes no difference, in the end.  The lapse of time rules.

1 comment:

Seymour Hamilton said...

I find it impossible to take a firm stand on this issue. A statue, by its nature, implies approval. If not, why not a statue of Hitler? He's "historical" and arguably serves as a shocking example. But this isn't why statues are raised. By their nature, statues are raised by a "we" as distinct from "them". Case in point: there are statues to Genghis Khan, but only in countries who claim him as their own. Extending this line of thought, a statue of Christopher Columbus implies a "we" which does not include the aboriginal peoples of North America. They are understandably offended by the approval that his statue confers. (I'm mildly offended by adulation of Churchill because my grandfather was an ANZAC who didn't come back from Gallipoli, but not enough to run around defacing or hauling down statues to him, because his life and deeds are valuable to the "we" of which I am a part). It's the "we - them" problem that is behind statues which really is at issue, not the bronze objects, and it's not clear what to do about it. Kier Starmer attempted to square the circle by disapproving the action of chucking a statue of a slaver into Bristol harbour as vandalism, but approving the anti-slavery sentiment the action represented. This item in today's Guardian points to some of the many issues involved.