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What is the intellectual framing of the UK statues debate? Show more Show less

In June 2020 Bristol protestors rioting against the murder of George Floyd tore down a statue of Edward Colston. Having hauled it from its plinth, they eventually abandoned the statue in the city's harbour. Hundreds of onlookers gathered to watch, viewing this as a momentous step in the fight against racism. Colston is known as the man who built Bristol. He bequeathed his enormous fortune to the city upon his death. 300 years on, the scale of his legacy is visceral in Bristol's landmarks and architecture, and the names of its schools, concert halls, streets, restaurants, pubs and cathedral. Yet, his fortune was built on slavery, leading many to argue that the statue props up institutional racism in the UK. Since Colston's toppling, activists have circulated lists of hundreds more controversial statues they say must be removed to end racial inequality. Others call this type of campaigning problematic. They view the destruction of monuments as historical whitewashing. For them, this trend is an affront to British history that does not confront the real issues at play. So, who are these groups, what do they think, and why?

"Taking the statues down is an 'iconoclasm of the Woke!'" Show more Show less

We should not celebrate the destruction of our history. Taking this approach is reductive. Blaming statues for perceived "injustice" is unproductive.
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The fight against injustice should focus on changing the present

There is no doubt that grave social injustices exist today, and that - like anything - these inequalities have been reproduced over centuries. However, focusing the redressing of these issues on taking down inanimate statues is ineffective. The realities that non-white communities face are not the result of their monuments. It is almost offensive to focus a battle for equality on this "issue", rather than seek change through policy, political representations and other channels that exist for this purpose. The danger posed by this current movement is in its short-sightedness. What are the real issues these people are hoping to elevate? That is where the mobilisation should be focused. Proponents include journalist Sharmini Brookes and Conservative party MP Simon Brookes.
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    This page was last edited on Tuesday, 23 Jun 2020 at 14:36 UTC