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How do we think about taking down controversial statues in the UK? Show more Show less
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In June 2020 protestors circulated a hit list of controversial UK statues to be taken down. These included Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Robert Baden-Powell. Campaigners say these statues must be ripped down because they contribute to racialised systemic violence. In turn, this trickles down into every facet of public life and subordinates ethnic minorities. On the other side, groups made up of mostly far right activists say this is deeply offensive. They see this lobby as a violent mob that have been undeservedly handed a mandate to whitewash UK history. So, who are these groups, what do they think, and why?

How dare they tear down our statues Show more Show less

This group sees the anti-statue activists as lawless mob. Proponents include the EDL, All Lives Matter activists, and the alt-right press.
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The controversial statues are an attack on the UK's white majority

Britain is a white country. This debate is about race, and an attempt to subordinate British people.

The Argument

During the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, the Edward Colston statue was toppled and thrown into the Bristol Harbour, and statues of historical British figures, such as Winston Churchill, were defaced. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, claimed that removing these statues would be to lie about British history and the values and understandings of what was right and wrong at the time. They are part of our educational history. Winston Churchill, for example, may have expressed views that are inappropriate to us, but the memorial commemorates his achievement in saving this country. [1] After the removal of the Edward Colston statue, there have been petitions to remove statues that are considered offensive, and petitions countering those to maintain the statues. Those petitioning for the maintenance of these statues view the monuments as part of British heritage. The removal of these statues and monuments are seen to be a direct attack on British history and on the UK's white British majority. By removing the statues, British forefathers are being demonised, and an attack is made upon the values, roots, and heritage of the British people. The illegitimate removal of the Edward Colston statue, and the defacing of the Winston Churchill statue are nothing but destructive acts of anarchy, and thereafter removing statues that portray British historical values, in the event that it were to offend minorities, is wrong. [2]

Counter arguments

The removal of statues that may cause offence to minorities is not an attack on the UK’s white majority. It is vital to understand British history and be educated about it. Whilst it is essential to understand history and its colonial past, it is ever more significant to understand that the structure systems set up during colonial periods have paved the way for the dynamics of exploitation today. Issues relating to garment manufacturing, land disputes, access to healthcare, and other socio-economic inequalities, all exist today. Current victims of inequality in the UK include those who were killed during the Grenfell Tower fire due to corporate greed, all from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background, and the demographics disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The removal of the statue of Edward Colston (a slave trader), defacement of Winston Churchill’s, (who is known to have caused the 1943 Bengal Famine, and contributed to the social class divisions in Britain), and thereafter the removals and petitions for removals of other statues of historical colonialists, are not an attempt eradicate British history, or attack the UK’s current white majority. The toppling of the Edward Colston statue during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest expresses that the feeling that institutional racism exists is present, and is embodied in our global structure, which emanates from the past. The demand for removal is more symbolistic of a wanting for change in today’s institutions, to eradicate inequality on both the national and global front. [3]

Proponents


Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/12/boris-johnson-says-removing-statues-is-to-lie-about-our-history-george-floyd
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/06/10/course-black-lives-matter-do-british-values-heritage/
  3. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/churchill-must-fall/

This page was last edited on Sunday, 4 Oct 2020 at 21:39 UTC

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