Do you remember when that statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down? You must have, it was surely the high point of the Bush-Blair war in Iraq. The day that they thought, “It’s all downhill from here.” Little did they know.
Well, the same thing happened in the UK at the weekend. In Bristol, only about fifty miles from me, the bronze statue of a prominent slave trader was pulled down and dumped in the harbour.
I can understand that what a slave trader might have done is so repulsive that someone might want to pull their statue down. I share their repulsion. Many statues in the UK are related to our infamous history. I don’t buy the argument that it is destroying property. Whose property? Especially bronze, melt it down and use that for something useful. But I think there is a better way.
The point is, do you want people to be reminded of the past, to be aware of the past, or not? It worries me that while the present generation might well find the statue repugnant, by destroying something, there is a danger that future generations will not even know about slavery. If anything, add a commentary to make the link even more apparent.
Absolutely, these statues were first erected as celebrations, but I prefer to think of them now as reminders.