Statues: delusory idolisation or education?
At the forefront of the preservation-of-the-UK’s-statues debate is the argument that when statues are pulled down from their pedestal, history is erased. However, there is no correlation between the two. How can you possibly learn about history by looking at a statue? In reality, this seems to be another way to demonise the BLM (Black Lives Matter – you should know by now!) movement.
I don’t remember learning any of the historical knowledge I’ve picked up over my lifetime from statues – museums, history books, online journals, documentaries perhaps but never statues. This tenuous argument for the preservation of statues as they provide an educational function is somewhat misleading; it implies that protestors risking their lives for the rights of black people are vandals, mindlessly eradicating history and annihilating our educational resources.
It has even been implied that such pulling down of statues is criminal. What’s the crime? Wanting to prevent the idolisation of men who enslaved Africans for profit? The refusal to idolise white, greedy men who had a very disturbing moral compass, even for their time? The statue of Churchill has been the headlines for days with far-right protestors protecting his statue. Yes, it must be conceded that Churchill’s history must never be forgotten but it arguably was purposely forgotten when a statue was erected of a man who deplored the Indians and hated the poor.
A tiny script dedicated to a statue on a street will likely be dismissed but in actuality, if Churchill’s statue is pulled down, a debate would start about why his statue has evoked anger among the public and that very why would be far more educational than the image of a man who happened to be in charge when the war was won but was erroneously named a war hero – this is nothing more than a fallacious nationalist narrative.
Pulling down a statue will never erase historical knowledge but statues deny the deplorable contexts in which these so-called heroes thrived under.