By Roger Smith
Winston Churchill once said ““I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” Winston Churchill, the hero of many “wholesome” war stories was a genocidal ethnocentric racist responsible for an estimated 4 million Indians starved. In 2002 Winston Churchill beat out Shakespeare to be voted as the greatest Briton of all time. All too often we continue the lionization of old bigots because it’s easy and we like easy things. Today many privately raised memorials to slave owners are maintained on the public dime, sometimes extorted from the very descendants of those they raped and brutalized. These memorials and monuments are mostly privately raised, often times by far right if not outright white supremacist organizations. For example, Stone Mountain was raised by the actual Ku Klux Klan and an easement allowed them to meet and fund raise on the site.
The history we are taught in schools is itself a biased rewriting. A glossing over of the worst of the past so that we do not struggle against the worst parts of our future too vigorously. Tear down monuments to slaughter and pillage, instead build memorials for those who resisted them. Why do we have so many statues of the same white men when we have none of the runaway slaves who lived in shackles but died free for the same hope that built this land?
These monuments are not about heritage. They’ve spread as far North as Scotland and as far south as Brazil. “Heritage Not Hate” was actually a slogan created by Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke precisely because “White Pride” sounds a lot better than “Hate Them”. It began entirely as a way to repackage hate as pride in history, ancestry, and heritage. Is it any wonder why White Supremacist rally around these statues? They are passive recruiters for the white power movement and aggressive reminders of white supremacy for everyone else. This is why they murder in defense of these altars.
Furthermore is the argument that the statutes serve to teach us and remind of our horrific history. This is categorically not the case. If these were reminders, we would see the backs of slaves scarred by repeated floggings. If they were reminders we would see dead soldiers and not triumph at the Iwo Jima Memorial. We would see the costs of those victories and not the whitewashed fluff. These memorial are lies made metal to push a cultural agenda.
Finally, there is the absurd argument that these statutes somehow prevent the rise of a new slavery or other atrocities. This is a historically illiterate argument. Humans have been building monuments since before recorded history and we haven’t slowed down on the atrocity front. Just in the present day humanity is currently witnessing several ongoing genocides. No sane person goes to lament the lack of monuments alongside the Rohingya people. Statues do not stop evil acts. Good moral people resisting stops those evil acts.