Toppling statues not the answer
Iam delighting in an Internet witch hunt. Overwhelmed by the power of Twitter and however many thousand photographs of the protests, the racists who marched in Charlottesville are one-by-one being picked off by the Internet.
It’s online bullying for good.
There were hundreds of white, angry men, all cocky and empowered as they marched with burning torches and their proud Nazi mates.
But as photos of their faces are being disseminated across dedicated websites and Twitter accounts, many of the white supremacists are being pathetically exposed.
One outspoken leader suffered the humiliation of being publicly turfed off Tinder. A crowdfunding campaign offered $30,000 for the identity of a violent attacker in the Nazi ranks.
My favourite story — per Twitter — was that of a marching Nazi promptly identified and fired from his job, who then complained his employer was being intolerant of different opinions.
Nothing says irony like a lecture on tolerance from a man with a swastika flag.
But as much as I’ve enjoyed mass come-uppance for white supremacists, I’m stuck in a bind on the debate that drew them to Charlottesville in the first place.
The protests began because of plans to remove an old Confederate statue, and many in the US believe Confederate monuments are celebrations of slavery.
At first I thought so, too. Just as I think it makes sense to lose the Confederate symbol off all state flags, I figured it seemed pretty sensible to pull down the statues as well.
Confederate monuments are clearly offensive to many and white supremacists still latch on to them as enduring symbols of slavery in the South.
But as Charlottesville simmers down and many cities in the US South reconsider the future of their Confederate monuments, I’m not so convinced
Instead of pulling the statues down, why not change their plaques to explain about the slave owning racists they depict?
bringing all the statues down actually makes good sense.
History isn’t clean. Particularly in the US, it’s bloody and awful and oppressive.
I wonder if by pulling down statues, some of the old Confederacy is scrubbing the public conscience clean, while also giving white supremacists an excuse to gather and hate.
I know this isn’t for me to decide.
But I wonder if there’s a nuanced difference between the monument debate and the debate over Confederate imagery that until recently appeared on several state flags in the US.
Flags represent history combined with values and society in the modern day. Monuments and statues always exclusively represent the past.
In many of America’s southern states, the past wasn’t so great.
So why pretend?
Instead of pulling the statues down, why not change their plaques to explain in explicit language about the slaveowning racists they depict?
Most of the statues aren’t even that old — they were erected during segregation with Jim Crow laws in the South. So why not put that on the plaque?
And if Nazis and the KKK still gather and celebrate the Confederacy, just snap a few more pictures, chuck them on the net, and see how supreme those losers really feel after all.
“Alt-Right” and KKK members are being shamed online after the protests and confrontations in Charlottesville.