BRING DOWN? NO, BUILD!!
There are very many angry people who, as well as believing that social-distancing is already yesterday’s news, have decided that violently bringing down statues, and in one case, drowning it, is the way forward.
So which statue would I like to take a tumble in Britain? If there were ones of Trump, Xi, or any of the bad boys of the world, then yes, bring it crashing down. I’ll help. From a social distance, of course.
But I have to be honest and say while I am not well-informed on the statues of Britain, I can’t think of any of the famous ones that I would want demolished. Even those connected with slavery. I come from the side of the argument which believes that as most prominent Britons were likely to be profiting from what was, after all, perfectly legal slavery, every one commemorated in bronze say between 1650 and 1810 would need to be melted down for all of us to be able to maintain clear consciences.
I sincerely believe that, like most things, morality actually evolves. We now look differently at all sorts of issues – slavery has been mostly eradicated, though we still have to deal with the traffickers and enforced sex workers and the like. Maybe the fervent efforts of the statue-bashers would be better served by campaigning to erase what we call modern-day slavery.
Yes, we still have a long way to go with homosexuality, particularly in the far-too-many parts of the globe where it remains illegal, even punishable by death, but our attitudes have still improved considerably in the past century or so. As Golda Meir, former Israeli prime minister said: “One can not and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” I am sure future generations will be most put out at stuff that is normal to many of us; Killing animals to eat? Using perfectly drinkable water to flush their toilets? Clogging up the precious oceans with plastic? Utter barbarians those lot were back in 2020.
So, if I believe that nothing should come down, how about going in the other direction and putting some stuff up instead? How much better it would be to argue about who should and who shouldn’t be forever cast in bronze or granite, rather than the current nasty, violent, and destructive actions that are going on.
Every single human being that put their lives on the front-line, dealing with the pandemic, is a national hero, but of course they can’t all have statues constructed in their honour. Shame.
But as much as they all deserve it, my realistic target is a certain Frenchman, who for 20 years, instilled flair, creativity, passion and credibility to my football club, Arsenal. He could have been named after the club –cArsene Wenger. He not only managed the team to several domestic trophies, he even saw his side go a complete league season undefeated, unheard of in the modern era. He also oversaw the move to the Emirates Stadium, a magnificent venue built 14 years ago.
Outside the stadium, there are several statues already of legendary former players, but not of Monsiuer Wenger. Whilst even his greatest fans would admit that he stayed maybe two years too long in his post, few would argue that a beautiful sculpture of the man would be out of place. A man who has already ensured a place in the club’s long history.
And I truly believe he has no links to the slavery trade.
A Pathetic Human Turd
Let me get this out of the way right up front: I love history and cannot imagine myself pulling down any statue. I also find the entire business of pulling historical figures out of their worlds and judging them by rules they never contemplated more than a little unfair.
There are plenty of villains throughout history and you don’t need to make up new rules by which to judge them:
- King Leopold II
- A. Hitler
- J. Stalin
- Caesar Caligula
- Idi Amin
This is right off the top of my head, I’m sure we can find a hundred more online. These men were terrible by their own rules and standards, we don’t need to move them to another time.
But there are others, and we remove them from their time and place and judge them harshly. People I believe are not guilty as charged:
- Thomas Jefferson
- Winston Churchill
- Robert E. Lee
“I find slavery a repugnant institution.” ~ Lee
It requires a Trumpian level of ignorance of history to say these statues should be pulled down. Yet, here we are; suffering through a period where presidents & protesters alike refuse to read any damn thing at all because they “know”.
But this Blog is about whose statue I would pull down. I would support the removal of any statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest. There are others, but I’ll start with this particular swine because he is the Forrest of Forrest Gump fame.
My attention is focused on one statue of this white supremacist, Confederate General: the nasty joke residing at 701D Hogan Road, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Installed on private property by Jack Kershaw, another pathetic human turd & white supremacist, in 1998. This 25 foot tall statue is clearly not intended as anything other than flipping the bird at thoughtful, educated people.
Not only is it in poor taste, it’s badly done as art. Looking nothing like the man, it was apparently made of old bath tubs. That’s one you could pull down as a service to art lovers, history fans, and protesters alike.
Long live the emperor
…on the banks of the Moscow river there is a gigantic steel statue of Peter the Great. The first Russian Emperor was a very controversial figure. Some say he was the ruler who moved Russia out of the Byzantinist ways to bring it closer to Europe to enter the Big Guys club. He really did it. Others say he was trying to westernize Russia by the most barbaric methods you could imagine. This is also true.
Anyway, there’s that big statue there. Erected in the city that he hated. The city that he stripped of its capital status by establishing Saint Petersburg, the new capital of the new-born empire. The city that, to him, was a symbol of the sleepy Tartar kingdom he wanted so much to modernize.
Pretty much enough for anybody to wonder what the heck is the statue is doing there?
But there’s much more. I mean how did Peter get there and who he was before he became the Russian Emperor?
This gigantic monument was erected in 1995. Three years before, in 1992, another very controversial person, this time a sculptor named Zurab Tsereteli, a Georgian buddy of the powerful Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, created a gigantic gift to the United States. Yes, for the 500th anniversary of America’s discovery. Sure, by then the monument was Columbus. It depicted the famous seafarer precisely; Columbus was dressed in the costume of the epoch, late 15th century.
Probably because that guy, Zurab Tsereteli, is also been known as the king of kitsch, the United States has politely but firmly refused the gift. That was a problem for Zurab as he invested lots of resources in it, both financial and creative. Who could blame the guy – he did his best. Now he desperately needed some return on his investment.
First, he decided to go to Saint Petersburg. Not long before, in 1991, the city’s got its historical name back. Since 1924 it had been known as Leningrad. So, Zurab thought, let’s fix the problem: let’s turn Columbus into Peter the Great, the founder of Russia’s northern capital. He changed what he could to transform it. Well, he didn’t fully succeed, I suspect for purely technical reasons. It was too late to turn one steel man completely into another one, from a different time.
This probably explains why the monument of Peter the Great, a man of the 18th century, still has lots of costume elements of the time preceding his own by some 300 years!
Looking at all this, Saint Petersburg authorities declined Zurab’s proposal.
Then it was time for Plan C. Zurab called up his buddy, the then Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and talked him into to having the monument in memory of the 300-year anniversary of the Russian Navy. And the city paid money for it. That was in 1997. The anniversary itself actually took place the year before, in 1996. There was some big noise and protests back then. Nobody, including the absolute majority of the artistic community, understood why the stature of Peter should stand in Moscow, a place not connected with him or the Russian Navy. Out of historical context. In Columbus’s dress, too.
But those two fellas made it up. Yuri made Zurab happy. Lots of Muscovites sucked.
It looks, in Moscow, a bit odd, to say the least. This is why I think I’d be in a good mood seeing it torn down and moved to the nearby open-air Museon museum of fallen Soviet-time monuments.
Oh, wait… This is not a Soviet monument. Plus there’s a bigger problem: the monument is too big to fit in the Museon park. This is why I believe it should be there forever – but as a monument to something else then its initial purpose.