Hey ho, old white dudes gotta go
Statues are created out of worship and vanity. I can almost promise they were not created to teach you history. They are either created by a megalomaniac, or by admirers of a person. They may have plaques that can tell you who they are, and a brief snapshot of what they did – but they do not actually teach history. They are a conversation piece for sure, and someone can tell their kids about that person from their perspective; but it does not mean they will teach them truthful information. Especially since the USA seems to have a problem with being truthful about their history.
I think it is important to understand that these these statues don’t just disappear. They will go somewhere, they will still be protected. See, there are these things called archives. Their purpose is to protect history and preserve artifacts. I would say almost all museums have archives that can house thousands of artifacts that are not on display; but still protected. This does not mean that the museums are erasing history, or trying to deny its existence. It just means that there is an understanding of what is important and what is not – statues of hateful racists who made black people’s lives miserable? Not important to be on display, best to be read about in history books.
To me, the removal of these statues from public spaces right now is so important. It shows a history in progress that needs to be remembered. It is resistance, it is a protest, and it is a definitive statement from people to visually say “fuck no, we’re not going backwards”. The nazi racists can protest with their tiki torches, and hate speech; but they are on the wrong side of history. The people tearing down these statues are the heros of this story.
It is especially important to be doing this in the southern USA considering their white washed revisionist treatment of USA history. Too many southern folk still hold onto, and try to protect the plantation myth. This myth promotes the idea that the old pre-civil war south full of antebellum houses, genteel men, and poised perfect ladies was bliss. Those who idealize this myth maintain, and comfort themselves in the belief that many slaves enjoyed their servitude. That they did not want to be freed from slavery. The fact that they still believe this can be evidenced in many comment sections unfortunately.
The ideology of that time period is what these nazi racists want to get back to. A time that was economically successful because they got free labour from black people, a time when men were men and women knew their place. It ignores the reality of the poverty and hardship that many people faced, and brutal existence that black people endured.
So having these statues on display does nothing more than solidify to a group of racists that this ideology is valid, and attainable. It shows them that their heroes matter, and that they are someone to look up to. They are unfortunate beacons of hope that need to be snuffed out.
Since they do serve as a beacon it makes sense why people are so urgent to snuff them out at this moment. Prior to Il Duce Trumpolini campaigning and being elected; racism existed systematically and silently (and easily ignored by most left leaning white folk). After Il Duce campaigned and took office these silent racists became emboldened by Trump’s message of hate and like sea monkey’s they were brought back to life. Now that they are loud, proud, and they want white power (and no longer easily ignored by leftist whites), and with Trump’s actions he is happy to give it to them. Due to Il Duce’s support, these racist nazi’s do not need further validation of their beliefs.
These statues also work to validate many black people’s belief that they do not matter, and that any attempt to heal the past is just a hollow and empty gesture. This is solidified by furor over people who claim to not be racist, wanting to protect these statues; and standing beside the racist nazi’s who also want to protect them.
The longer these statues remain the longer black people have to walk past and be reminded of the murder, rape, abuse, and degradation that their ancestors endured at the hands of these men. They are constantly reminded that these past white heroes, mirror current day white heroes who murder, rape, abuse, and degrade them through the power they hold. Knowing all along that they are still not free, they are still not safe, they are still healing fractures and traumas centuries old, generations deep.
So if the USA ever wants to actually be “united” and the land of the free (white people) and the home of the brave (my ass) then they need to fix this shit. The white folk who claim they want to make the world a better place; actually decide to do more than lip service then they need to ally with black people and take these statues down. They need to stop arguing that these hunks of metal and stone are history lessons. The only history they teach is the interpretation of the people viewing them – no matter how inaccurate. There are so many ways people can learn history, viewing a statue with zero context is not one of them. These idols do not need to be worshipped anymore. There is zero history being taught through their existence, only validation of the beliefs they held.