Toppling racism.

Well, well, well, “three men in a hole” as Kate says, the hot topic of whether statues should be toppled has reached these shores after Charlottesville. Although it has actually been going on a while with Rhodes statue in Oxford and Colston’s stuff in Bristol examples. And an article today suggests the taking down of Nelson from his column,

Cue outrage and you can’t rewrite history, as one commentator has it: “The UK has statues of the likes of Nelson and Cromwell because, in UK culture, the purpose of statues is purely narrative. Such a narrative must never in any way be altered to make it more palatable for metropolitan, middle class consumption.” This person sums up the situation pretty well; the statues are ‘purely’ narrative, giving the story of the victorious men. Their second sentence gives away their inability to understand, or more likely unwillingness, that the narrative is pretty narrow. Apparently, for example, Nelson was undoubtedly a white supremacist and used his power and influence to maintain the tyranny and brutality of slavery.

Ah, but he was a man of his time and if we’d been living then we’d have all been at it; well, all of us men, at least all of us white men, or at least all of us white men with power and money. See how the narrative has the purity of just being about a very small section of society: male, white, rich and powerful.

What to do, just pull down the statues and get a few Charlottesville style confrontations and drumfian moral equivalences with farage and co? No, let’s be a little more subtle and get some sculptors to create sculptures to go alongside the ‘purely narrative statues’ giving the wider narrative and help give us all a fuller history. I for one was unaware of Nelson’s mindset until reading the article today. So we keep ‘our heritage’ but give some context to the ‘pure narrative’.


Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


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