Removal of US statues

Dame_Enda

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I thought this issue merited a thread in itself. The people a country chooses to honour or not honour to some extent reflects its values as a society. On the other hand, monuments are sometimes used to mark historic events and persons, rather than to extoll their virtues, in the hope that a nation will learn the relevant lessons of a persons contribution to that country's history.

The statue of George Washington - the first President of the United States, has just been toppled in Portland, Oregon. 4 days ago that of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, was felled.

Is this is a step too far? How do you feel about the removal of statues of the Founding Fathers, the Confederate Generals and even (in recent days) the Conquistadors? The Juan de Onate statue was protested in the southwest of the U.S. a few days ago. He was the Spanish colonialist who suppressed the Pueblo Revolt in the late 17th century.

I hope the mods will not "zoo" this thread, and it is very much in the news, and in my opinion merits a separate discussion from the general issue of the police brutality cases.

I will occasionally post videos of statues being attacked. These posts should not be considered endorsement of the politics of the persons who originally uploaded the videos. Nonetheless they are moments in history and therefore deserved to be noted and discussed.


 


wombat

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I suspect Trump supporters, he's the only one who will gain from such stupidity.
 

McTell

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Freed slaves always had the option to returned to Liberia, that was set up by degrees in 1822-1847. It was an american charitable / free enterprise solution.

Then in the civil war fred douglass told lincoln that "blacks" / former slaves deserved to share in the riches they had helped to create. So they stayed, but were generally left to their own devices.

Also next door was:


where some former freed slaves from the british colonies went to live. This was even earlier, founded in 1792. Now Sierra Leone.


So even if washington and jefferson owned slaves, they set up a country with sufficient wealth and a liberal legal system to allow (rich) individual americans to donate to a scheme to benefit freed slaves if they wanted to. And not if they didn't.


In the modern world, individual feelings are merged into groups, and as slavery was wrong it is easy to "guilt trip" all whites. And expect me to help pay "reparations", even though my ancestors in the 1800s had nothing to do with slavery or any colonies.

If a statue of 1890 glorifies some confederate hard chaw of the 1860s, that tells us what was important locally in the 1890s, and as attitudes have changed a lot since the 1890s the statue reminds us (well, me) of that change.

In malta you will still see queen victoria because that was then - and the maltese had no say in the matter - but now it is run by the maltese. She is not part of today's malta, but she is a part of their story, so she stays. I like that kind of long term self confidence.
 

Betson

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I think if the removal of statues has majority local support and is done in a legal way I see nothing wrong with it. I would not like any statues etc from British colonel times in my area and would support bringing them down.

But mobs just arbitrary attacking statutes and destroying them should be prevented, by the full force of the law if needs be.
 

bob3344

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But mobs just arbitrary attacking statutes and destroying them should be prevented, by the full force of the law if needs be.
Blowing up Nelsons Column was sheer vandalism imo, talibanesque
 

Dame_Enda

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Freed slaves always had the option to returned to Liberia, that was set up by degrees in 1822-1847. It was an american charitable / free enterprise solution.

Then in the civil war fred douglass told lincoln that "blacks" / former slaves deserved to share in the riches they had helped to create. So they stayed, but were generally left to their own devices.

Also next door was:


where some former freed slaves from the british colonies went to live. This was even earlier, founded in 1792. Now Sierra Leone.


So even if washington and jefferson owned slaves, they set up a country with sufficient wealth and a liberal legal system to allow (rich) individual americans to donate to a scheme to benefit freed slaves if they wanted to. And not if they didn't.


In the modern world, individual feelings are merged into groups, and as slavery was wrong it is easy to "guilt trip" all whites. And expect me to help pay "reparations", even though my ancestors in the 1800s had nothing to do with slavery or any colonies.

If a statue of 1890 glorifies some confederate hard chaw of the 1860s, that tells us what was important locally in the 1890s, and as attitudes have changed a lot since the 1890s the statue reminds us (well, me) of that change.

In malta you will still see queen victoria because that was then - and the maltese had no say in the matter - but now it is run by the maltese. She is not part of today's malta, but she is a part of their story, so she stays. I like that kind of long term self confidence.
Interestingly, Ghana is running a "Come Home" campaign to attract African American immigrants. Euronews or CNN had a report on it a few days ago.
 

neiphin

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Interestingly, Ghana is running a "Come Home" campaign to attract African American immigrants. Euronews or CNN had a report on it a few days ago.
Would or should an american of colour consider Africa home?
 

raetsel

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In malta you will still see queen victoria because that was then - and the maltese had no say in the matter - but now it is run by the maltese. She is not part of today's malta, but she is a part of their story, so she stays. I like that kind of long term self confidence.
The history of Malta is rather different though. Following a brief uninvited occupation by France during the Napoleonic Wars, the Maltese voluntarily opted to become a British protectorate in the early 1800s, and the relationship with Britain was therefore far less acrimonious than in countries which were aggressively conquered.
 

Supra

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Freed slaves always had the option to returned to Liberia, that was set up by degrees in 1822-1847. It was an american charitable / free enterprise solution.
It was a land grab.
You can't return to a place you have never been.
 

McTell

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It was a land grab.
You can't return to a place you have never been.

I agree, but the option was there if you wanted it. In most cases by the 1820s-30s, slaves were born in n & s america as the trade across the atlantic had ended around 1807.

The spanish, dutch, portuguese, brazilian, french, etc etc slave states never even considered this option, just "here, you're free, get on with it. If you need to eat, come back to work on Monday".
 

Supra

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I agree, but the option was there if you wanted it. In most cases by the 1820s-30s, slaves were born in n & s america as the trade across the atlantic had ended around 1807.

The spanish, dutch, portuguese, brazilian, french, etc etc slave states never even considered this option, just "here, you're free, get on with it. If you need to eat, come back to work on Monday".
This was an a creation of educated African Americans in safe places like New York and Canada and supported by wealthy white crooks. They took this chance so they could return to Africa and behave like the slave owners in the South had behaved.
 

McTell

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At another level, if you "mind" that your ancestors were "taken from" somewhere by force, you can't object when they offer to return you back there.

If you don't want to go back, you can still complain that your family was enslaved, but you can't complain about the taken-across-the-sea bit.

Of course 90% of the anti-slavery guys in the early 1800s also wanted any ex-slaves sent back. It was seen as the only full solution to the wrongs done.

Sometime soon I guess any statues in monrovia will come down as they will be said to celebrate a neo-colonial uncle tom mentality.
 

O'Sullivan Bere

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At another level, if you "mind" that your ancestors were "taken from" somewhere by force, you can't object when they offer to return you back there.

If you don't want to go back, you can still complain that your family was enslaved, but you can't complain about the taken-across-the-sea bit.
Nothing fair about this at all IMO.

Like Sierra Leone for the British, Liberia was an attempt to rid the US of free blacks as a white supremacist nation. Blacks were deemed inferior and intended as chattel for whites. Consequently, free blacks were deemed out of place, undesired, and a social order/racial purity/eugenics threat to a white man's country. It's a form of banishment/ethnic cleansing to encourage/pressure people to leave their own nation, especially given those reasons.

Further, Liberia was not the home of most if not all of their ancestors anyway. US blacks have ancestry from different tribes and places all across the western side of Africa and sometimes central given how their ancestors may have been captured or sold and routed to the coasts for sale and transportation. Admixture of all African sources started occurring immediately upon sales and assignments of slaves in the New World along with white and Native introductions to their bloodlines from their masters and other means. By the 1800s, such admixture was most certainly the case for slaves who often had US roots going back generations on the African and/or European sides and obviously thousands of years with any Native ancestry.
 

wombat

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Nothing fair about this at all IMO.

Like Sierra Leone for the British, Liberia was an attempt to rid the US of free blacks as a white supremacist nation. Blacks were deemed inferior and intended as chattel for whites. Consequently, free blacks were deemed out of place, undesired, and a social order/racial purity/eugenics threat to a white man's country. It's a form of banishment/ethnic cleansing to encourage/pressure people to leave their own nation, especially given those reasons.
Its a bit harsh, there were many Americans who were willing to accept blacks as equal, just as some accepted Irish or Mexicans as equal. I once read an article which claimed that racism was invented as a justification for slavery, apparently in medieval times, there was a very popular saint who was black. The idea of a home in Africa for freed slaves was well intentioned, much as the idea of Indian reservations was seen as allowing Indians to continue their way of life.
 

O'Sullivan Bere

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Of course 90% of the anti-slavery guys in the early 1800s also wanted any ex-slaves sent back. It was seen as the only full solution to the wrongs done.

Sometime soon I guess any statues in monrovia will come down as they will be said to celebrate a neo-colonial uncle tom mentality.
Overstated on the bolded. Anti-slavery sentiments ranged across the spectrum regarding handling of freed slaves. For those that supported the Liberia project, it was still based on white supremacy as earlier explained, although such people should be viewed as products of their time and obviously more progressive than those who believed in continued enslavement of blacks.

Pulling down statues in Monrovia to its founders doesn't seem likely, although who knows in this time. They were not similarly situated to those that 'encouraged' them to go there, and they played key roles in founding the new nation of Liberia. If anyone has a beef with them for pulling down statues, that might reside in the local majority who do not descend from American blacks relocated to Liberia.
 

petaljam

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At another level, if you "mind" that your ancestors were "taken from" somewhere by force, you can't object when they offer to return you back there.

If you don't want to go back, you can still complain that your family was enslaved, but you can't complain about the taken-across-the-sea bit.
Surely that depends where exactly and under what conditions? Africa is a big place after all.

If your ancestors were taken from Ireland and a few generations later someone decided to dump you in Portugal on the basis that it's all Europe, I think you'd want a say in that. And possibly some financial help to get you started in your new land, speaking a new language.

And I believe the locals weren't too happy to see them arriving either.

So no, I don't see that what they got (being dumped in a place they knew nothing of, with little practical help and hostility from the locals) was any sort of reparation for the damage that was done in taking them in the first place.

Of course 90% of the anti-slavery guys in the early 1800s also wanted any ex-slaves sent back. It was seen as the only full solution to the wrongs done.

Sometime soon I guess any statues in monrovia will come down as they will be said to celebrate a neo-colonial uncle tom mentality.
I think it's well known that white supremacy was a significant part of the motivation behind the project.
 

O'Sullivan Bere

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Its a bit harsh, there were many Americans who were willing to accept blacks as equal, just as some accepted Irish or Mexicans as equal. I once read an article which claimed that racism was invented as a justification for slavery, apparently in medieval times, there was a very popular saint who was black. The idea of a home in Africa for freed slaves was well intentioned, much as the idea of Indian reservations was seen as allowing Indians to continue their way of life.
I was drafting my last post when you posted this one that covers some of these sentiments.

Although some like Thaddeus Stevens felt so, it's clear that accepting blacks as full equals for all social and legal purposes was a minority view when the Liberia project existed to put it kindly, even amongst anti-slavery people as a whole. Achieving that kind of full acceptance has been a struggle for blacks through the civil rights movements of the Twentieth Century and even now, e,g., biracial (white father) FedEx driver nearly run over, spit upon and called 'N-word' when doing his job a few days ago.


Bad acts commonly involve convenient pretext for self-serving objectives.
 


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