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What is the intellectual framing of the UK statues debate? Show more Show less

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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We are witnessing a revolution against Western civilisation

Taking down statues is a violent attack on Western history and culture. This a dangerous assault on Western civilisation. It is a furious rampage that threatens the very fabric of our societies, borne out of the same violent madness characteristic of the Khmer Rouge. This type of behaviour has existed for millennia, and led to the devastation of countless civilisations and their histories. These endings are rarely happy. And have historically been symptomatic of growing social unrest and a climate of uncertainty. Yet, iconoclasm is not the answer. We should take our attention away from these statues. This is misplaced anger, which we would do better to examine. It is as journalist Sean Thomas writes, "Where will this bizarre fury end, and how might it change us: as nations, cultures, peoples? "
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    This page was last edited on Tuesday, 23 Jun 2020 at 08:39 UTC