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< Back to question How do we think about taking down controversial statues in the UK? Show more Show less

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?

We should approach the statues issue with caution Show more Show less

This group believes that there are other ways to look at this debate. They are neither in favour of tearing them all down, or defending them till the death. They see the issue as symptomatic of wider concerns the we should address. Proponents include free speech activists, left wing historians such as David Olusoga and the moderate press.
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The controversial statues are a distraction from the real issue at hand in the UK

Putting emphasis on statues in a debate about UK race relations detracts from the problem.
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Proponents


The Argument

The focus on controversial statues in the UK is a needless distraction for the issues of serious racial inequalities that pervade British society. When faced with the troubling facts, the statues are shown to be unimportant in comparison to the disturbing rates of inequality in the UK. In 2018, a report was published displaying that black people were at the receiving end of 12 percent of cases of violence and use of force against citizens, even though they only make up 3.3 percent of the population. [1] Beyond simply police brutality, recent Covid-19 numbers have also forced British citizens to come to terms with the inequality within their society. According to an IFS report, the death rate for people of African descent was 3ยท5 times higher than for white British citizens. [2] With all of these difficult truths forced upon the UK, it is easy to understand why the British government is hyper focused on the statue controversy in order to distract citizens from the real issues at hand.

Counter arguments

Many British protesters believe that bringing attention to these statues is not a distraction from the real issues, it is bringing attention to those issues. They believe that coming to terms with the injustices that famous figures in British history have committed will bring attention to the oppression that has been embedded in the system for years. [3] For them, the statues are the trademarks of inequality.

Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/black-lives-matter-uk-protests-about-people-not-statues-1-6695567
  2. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30228-9/fulltext
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/11/toppling-statues-bygone-tyrants-forces-british-people-face-present-day-racism

This page was last edited on Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020 at 09:16 UTC

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