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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 have every right to take the statues down Show more Show less

This group believes that tearing down statues is an important method at redressing systemic racial inequality. Proponents include Black Lives Matter, and left wing, British commentators such as Namitha Aravind.
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The controversial statues legitimise racism

The statues offer vehicle through which racists can legitimise their views.
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The Argument

The statues that are being taken down not only legitimize racist ideas, they also celebrate them. Statues and monuments are built and represented in honor of someone or something.[1] While the creation of these statues may be explained by the changes in beliefs and ideals throughout history, representing them to the public in the present is not. [2] Some of these statues being taken down include a known slaveholder Robert Milligan [3] and Edward Colston, a slave trader believed to have sold 100,000 slaves from west Africa. [4] These people should not be celebrated as monuments in today’s society. Especially when there is still racial inequally interwoven in today’s society. Like the fact that if you are a Black man in England or Wales, you have a 40 times higher chance of being stopped and searched by police.[2] Keeping these statues presented in the public eye takes away from the racism, not only in history but also today. Society should be presenting and working against the issues of colonial and imperial remnants of racism, not commemorating the men who were part of the cause of it. [2]

Counter arguments

The statues do not legitimize racism because while the personal values of the people that are depicted by the statues were racist, the statues were created and intended to legitimize the good they did, not the bad.[5]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2020/06/the-urge-to-destroy-is-also-a-creative-urge/
  2. https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/expertcomment/black-lives-matter-toppling-statues-and-anti-racism-joining-the-dots/
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-52977088
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/08/who-was-edward-colston-and-why-was-his-bristol-statue-toppled-slave-trader-black-lives-matter-protests
  5. https://history.research.southwales.ac.uk/news/why-statues-matter-black-lives/

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020 at 09:18 UTC

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