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What is the intellectual framing of the UK statues debate? Show more Show less
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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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This is a racist attack on the UK's helpless white majority

Many argue the statues debate is not really about statues. And they are correct. Talk of monuments obscures the obvious racial undertones of this attack against its white majority. What is truly alarming is just how acceptable this campaign of racial hatred has become. Protesters use the language of social justice to haul monuments of our ancestors into rivers. And to organise themselves into vigilante mobs set on removing every trace of Great British history from our streets. We have become powerless to defend them. It is as author Alexander Adams writes, "The current accusation is that white people are culpable for past slavery and live off the inherited spoils of imperialism. So, all white British people are guilty. Yet how can one demonise a group that comprises over 80 per cent of the entire population?" All lives matter, not just black lives, and using the language of race makes clear white lives are not as important as others. Proponents include the EDL and UK hard right nationalist groups.
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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 10:54 UTC

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