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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?

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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Controversial statues have an educational purpose in the UK

Statues enrich our understanding of history and the people who shaped it. We should not lose sight of that.

The Argument

While there is no doubt that the UK’s colonial and Imperial success was grounded in racism, instead of destroying the statues of some of the men responsible, we can learn from them. Social justice campaigns can often be ineffective and sometimes even hindering in unintended ways.[1] These protests have brought needed light onto the acts of the people represented by the statues, but removing those statues may remove the reminder of the history behind them.[2] Education is invaluable to understand how and why society must make the changes necessary for a better future. [3] These people are apart of the history of the UK, good or bad. Statues can provide historical context into the values and perspectives of the people responsible for the statue, which is an extremely important part of history, and something we can learn from to keep from repeating history. [4]

Counter arguments

Statues are not an educational tool, but rather a commemoration. History is learned through things like museums, books, and other educational resources that are specifically intended to educate rather than commemorate.[5]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/publications/is-it-wrong-to-topple-statues-and-rename-schools
  2. https://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2020/06/the-urge-to-destroy-is-also-a-creative-urge/
  3. https://www.aes.wolverhampton.gov.uk/blacklivesmatter
  4. https://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2020/06/rhodes-must-fall-oxfords-institutional-response/
  5. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-statues-removed-down-colston-rhodes-baden-powell-racism-a9560736.html
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020 at 09:16 UTC

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