'Don’t take down statues – take down racism’

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ASPartOfMe
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27 Jun 2020, 4:24 pm

Sir Geoff Palmer: 'Don’t take down statues – take down racism'

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Anti-racism protests taking place around the world are renewing calls to take down public monuments celebrating people and events now considered offensive.

But the removal of statues of slave traders and Confederate leaders in the United States and the UK is sparking concerns that important lessons from history might be swept under the carpet.

Sir Geoff Palmer, Scotland's first black professor, does not support removing statues relating to slavery "because this is part of black history".

"My ancestors had to face the slavers and fight. And I think I can face the evil face of a statue and fight," Palmer, an emeritus professor of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, told Euronews in a live TV interview.

He warned that taking down controversial statues and monuments could end up being a distraction at a time when societies may finally be ripe to confront racist behaviours.

"I find it very interesting that it’s probably the first time in the history of slavery that the white community – the white system, so to speak – is extremely cooperative," he said.

"So my view is that the next thing we should take down is racism," he added, calling it "one of the most evil aspects of our society.

"We don't want to leave this so that people looking back in 50 years will say: you know, they took the statues down, why didn't they do something about racism?"

Palmer stressed the importance of facing up to the past and better educating the public about it.

He cited the example of the City of Edinburgh, which has proposed amending a plaque on a controversial monument of Scottish politician Henry Dundas to explain that he was "instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade".

The new plaque would give the public the opportunity to see and "actually read the evil that this man has done," Palmer said. "If we take the statue down, this will not be known."

He argued that the whole point of putting the spotlight on these statues, and on our history as a whole, should be to try to change racist attitudes – which even he, a respected professor, continues to suffer from.

"I went to give a lecture recently. When I arrived, I was asked why I was there, and I said I’d come to give a lecture. The young lady said: ‘Well, what time?’ and I said ‘two o'clock’. And she said, ‘you can't be giving a lecture two o'clock, because that lecture is being given by Professor Sir Geoff Palmer."

In other words: the woman could not fathom that he, the black man standing in front of her, was the professor in question.

"This is where we are with our racism today. And we have to do something to change that," Palmer said. "We are one humanity, nothing less."


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27 Jun 2020, 4:35 pm

Who says we can't do both?



ASPartOfMe
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27 Jun 2020, 4:40 pm

uncommondenominator wrote:
Who says we can't do both?

He who is ”stakeholder” in modern parlance, does. He thinks keeping them and using them as a teaching tool is the way to go.


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Bradleigh
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27 Jun 2020, 7:38 pm

Many Confederate statues were put up long after it would have been relevant, and were more of erected as statements of white supremacy as part of Jim Crow, to intimidate black people. Even under the idea of using statues as teaching tools to reduce racism, the ones that flattering to people who started wars so they could continue to have slavery, should probably be taken down to be consistent to that goal.

I don't think that just putting a plaque up that says something like "Slavery is bad, mkay" is enough when you have Mr slavery is sitting majestically on a horse looking like a badass that fought for everyone's freedom, the freedom for people to be treated like property.

If plaques are enough to provide context to a statue of someone who did bad things, couldn't just a plaque be enough in general?


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27 Jun 2020, 9:07 pm

"Stakeholder" just means "someone invested in the idea". By definition, a racist trying to preserve racist history, is a stakeholder, since they have a vested interest in maintaining the version of history they want.

I've found that books make even better teaching tools than statues. Especially since those books can even have pictures of those statues in them.

And, why can't we make new, better statues, still relevant, but of something ELSE maybe.

Most of the civil war statues weren't even built any time near the civil war. Most of them sprang up in the 1910's and the 1960's. Coincidentally timed with the civil rights movements that were occurring in the 1910's and 1960's. Weird, huh?



sly279
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27 Jun 2020, 9:38 pm

Isis concurs with tearing down statues of past you don’t like and want to pretend didn’t happen.

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vermontsavant
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27 Jun 2020, 10:02 pm

I support the taking down of racist statues but not every statue of a leader who wasn't perfect.I think we need perspective on this,use judgement.


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27 Jun 2020, 11:02 pm

sly279 wrote:
Isis concurs with tearing down statues of past you don’t like and want to pretend didn’t happen.


And the US military concurs with bombing hospitals and shooting the first responders.

No one is pretending that the past did not happen, but putting up statues to frame traitors as heroes who fought for "states rights" rather than the right to have slaves is an attempt rewrite it. Statues put up to pretend that murderers who wanted to treat people as less than human, somehow were great men that we all should strive for.

Something like a statue needs context to actual history, not the ones we made up in our heads because the people who put it up won the culture war enough to put up the statues that match their narrative at the time they were erected. If a man is considered a pioneer of freedom, then what about the people he treated as property? What about the people that fought for the freedom to not be treated like property at that time and could have been executed by the other man because he dared to sleep with the wrong person?


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27 Jun 2020, 11:32 pm

Bradleigh wrote:
sly279 wrote:
Isis concurs with tearing down statues of past you don’t like and want to pretend didn’t happen.

No one is pretending that the past did not happen, but putting up statues to frame traitors as heroes who fought for "states rights" rather than the right to have slaves is an attempt rewrite it. Statues put up to pretend that murderers who wanted to treat people as less than human, somehow were great men that we all should strive for.

Something like a statue needs context to actual history, not the ones we made up in our heads because the people who put it up won the culture war enough to put up the statues that match their narrative at the time they were erected. If a man is considered a pioneer of freedom, then what about the people he treated as property? What about the people that fought for the freedom to not be treated like property at that time and could have been executed by the other man because he dared to sleep with the wrong person?


Which, if you took the efofrt to read the OP, is what is being requested:
Leave the statues in place, add plaques explaining the "bad" as well as the "good".

Quote:
Palmer stressed the importance of facing up to the past and better educating the public about it.

He cited the example of the City of Edinburgh, which has proposed amending a plaque on a controversial monument of Scottish politician Henry Dundas to explain that he was "instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade".

The new plaque would give the public the opportunity to see and "actually read the evil that this man has done," Palmer said. "If we take the statue down, this will not be known."


I would also note that no-where was anyone suggesting "putting up" statues, as you claim, with these plaques being applied to existing\reseated statues.

Hiding history away because you "don't like it", rather than adding something to explain why it was bad in order that people can learn from it, is more likely to result in the evil returning because people lack the exposure to the facts...Unless that is the intention?


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Bradleigh
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27 Jun 2020, 11:51 pm

Brictoria wrote:
Hiding history away because you "don't like it", rather than adding something to explain why it was bad in order that people can learn from it, is more likely to result in the evil returning because people lack the exposure to the facts...Unless that is the intention?


Statues can be history in the same way that the movie 300 is history. Sure there can be some elements of true in there and could say something about the time it was made, but just adding a note the Spartans were actually a culture that was brutal with slavery and the Persians were actually far more progressive, does not change the fact that the whole movie is skewed very much to make the Spartans look like freedom loving heroes.

Instead of holding up propaganda from a past time as some monument of history truth that cannot be changed, maybe it is better to remove the propaganda altogether if not replace with something far more accurate that would give better than context than a tiny plaque that you would have to get right in front of to read. Rather than the image of a hero on their horse that could be seen from quite a distance away.


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27 Jun 2020, 11:53 pm

sly279 wrote:
Isis concurs with tearing down statues of past you don’t like and want to pretend didn’t happen.

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Ok, but what's their position on replacing monuments to traitors with monuments that reflect the true history? If it were simply "history we didn't like", we wouldn't be trying to bring it to light. Monuments aren't the only way to remember history. Make it an exhibit in a museum. People use those to remember and learn things too.

Or maybe a compromise? The monuments stay, but right next to each one we build an additional bigger monument to the whole truth and history of the event or individual the first monument was built in representation of, that explains that, among other things, the monuments were often made 50 years or more after the civil war ended, that heros championing traitorous causes are still traitors, and that the "states rights" they were fighting for were in fact slavery.



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28 Jun 2020, 2:47 am

The professor's got a point; focusing on the statues makes it look like they're trying the out of sight, out of mind -tactic.

The most important thing (when it comes to the statues) is that if they're brought down, it's done peacefully without anyone getting hurt and without any property damage occuring. This hasn't always been the case, which will only add fuel to the fire for those who present opposite views.



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28 Jun 2020, 3:05 am

Fireblossom wrote:
The professor's got a point; focusing on the statues makes it look like they're trying the out of sight, out of mind -tactic.

The most important thing (when it comes to the statues) is that if they're brought down, it's done peacefully without anyone getting hurt and without any property damage occuring. This hasn't always been the case, which will only add fuel to the fire for those who present opposite views.


As I understand it, it is within the power of the respective state governemnts\local councils to remove these statues...How difficult would it be to put forward a case to each of these areas to have them removed in a legal way, rather than puling them down as they have done?

The "taking the law into their own hands" approach to removing statues is unlikely to do anything to cause "undecided" people to support the cause, as it shows an unwillingness to work with a community, but rather an authoritarian willingness to use force to get what they want, regardless of other people's beliefs\feelings.


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28 Jun 2020, 3:36 am

Brictoria wrote:
As I understand it, it is within the power of the respective state governemnts\local councils to remove these statues...How difficult would it be to put forward a case to each of these areas to have them removed in a legal way, rather than puling them down as they have done?

The "taking the law into their own hands" approach to removing statues is unlikely to do anything to cause "undecided" people to support the cause, as it shows an unwillingness to work with a community, but rather an authoritarian willingness to use force to get what they want, regardless of other people's beliefs\feelings.


Well, the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally happened specifically to oppose the taking down of a statue. You would get pushback alone from politicians that want to suck up to neo-Nazis to get their vote.

And this statement works only if you assume that many statues were not erected in the first place as part of an authoritarian willingness to use force to get what they want, regardless of the people's feelings. A lot of the confederate statues in America were put up well after the war and actually around the times of civil rights specifically to send a message.


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28 Jun 2020, 4:13 am

Bradleigh wrote:
Brictoria wrote:
As I understand it, it is within the power of the respective state governemnts\local councils to remove these statues...How difficult would it be to put forward a case to each of these areas to have them removed in a legal way, rather than puling them down as they have done?

The "taking the law into their own hands" approach to removing statues is unlikely to do anything to cause "undecided" people to support the cause, as it shows an unwillingness to work with a community, but rather an authoritarian willingness to use force to get what they want, regardless of other people's beliefs\feelings.


Well, the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally happened specifically to oppose the taking down of a statue. You would get pushback alone from politicians that want to suck up to neo-Nazis to get their vote.

And this statement works only if you assume that many statues were not erected in the first place as part of an authoritarian willingness to use force to get what they want, regardless of the people's feelings. A lot of the confederate statues in America were put up well after the war and actually around the times of civil rights specifically to send a message.


Exactly, the statues were put up in two big clumps, around the same times as civil rights movements (~1900 jim crow era and ~1960 civil rights movement), as a warning and reassertion of their intent. Funny thing though. The civil rights act got passed because they *fought* for it. Very seldom does an oppressor willingly give up power over his subordinates. An oppressor is even less likely to give up control if they also make great gobs of money off of the oppressed. Most wars are fought over power or wealth. Slavery is both, rolled into one neat package. Whenever an oppressed people has been granted relief, it's cos they demanded it, not asked nicely.

Remind me, how did america form again? I can't remember... They wrote a message to king george saying, what was it, "please stop oppressing us and stuff mr king george sir, we'd really appreciate it!" and he just said OK! and poof - america! Wait, no, that's right we had this big riot in boston, looted and vandalized whole shipments of product, tossed it right into the harbor. And then we told king george to bring it on, and dug in for a fight. Maybe we should have just asked nicely? Or complied. Or obeyed the law. Or not resisted. Surely any of those would have definitely worked, and been a better option than violence...

When the oppressed are told to ask for their rights "the right way", that's just another form of asserting control. "Ask the way I TELL you to ask..." - if someone that much more concerned with the delivery than the message, they probably not actually that interested in the message anyways. "No excuse to be rude!" More control. It basically says, "even if you're suffering, I'm still going to make you jump through hoops or do a little dance for my entertainment first, before I even listen, and maybe I'll help. Taunting. Like telling a drowning person to stop yelling and ask nicely, with an "indoor voice", or you won't try to help them and they can just drown for all you care, cos that's not how you get people to help you...



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28 Jun 2020, 5:10 am

Image

Wikipedia wrote:

In 1835, he donated money to establish a school for African-American children in Philadelphia and continued to pay the teachers' salaries out of his own pocket for years thereafter.[3] Baldwin was an outspoken supporter for the abolition of slavery in the United States, a position that was used against him and his firm by competitors eager to sell locomotives to railroads based in the slaveholding South.[3]

Baldwin was a member of the 1837 Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention and emerged as a defender of voting rights for the state's black male citizens.[3]



Yep, a devastating blow to racism, right here.


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