Fandango’s Provocative Question #182

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

This week’s provocative question stems from a dialogue I had with fellow blogger Pete, aka Mister Bump, in the comments section of this post. My post was about the now politically incorrect phrase “Indian Giver.”

Pete commented that by avoiding the use of language that was once perfectly acceptable, “we are trying to erase it from history. Pretending it never happened as opposed to consciously making an effort to be better.” He added, “I have to say this is exactly the same issue as tearing down old statues. An attempt to pretend it never happened.”

My response to Pete’s comment about tearing down old statues was, “Statues are erected to honor the individuals they represent. Taking down a statue of someone who, say, was a traitor to his country, or who committed atrocities (e.g., slaughtered Native Americans) doesn’t erase those individuals from history. It removes the honor that is bestowed upon them in the form of a statue.”

Pete and I continued to go back and forth on this in the comments section of my post. I’m not going to repeat all of the comments herein, but I have provided a link to that post in a previous paragraph, so if you’re interested in reading that entire exchange, feel free to click on that link.

And that brings us to this week’s provocative question. Let me state that there is no animosity between Pete and me. We just respectfully disagreed on a particular matter, and that’s fine. So I’m not asking you if you to take sides or whether you agree with Pete or with me. I’m simply asking how you feel about this matter.

Do you feel that the removal of statues of historic figures whose deeds or actions are considered, from today’s perspective, to be inappropriate, offensive, objectionable, or even traitorous, is justified? Why do you feel that way?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

45 thoughts on “Fandango’s Provocative Question #182

  1. Sadje September 14, 2022 / 3:17 am

    I think that it would be unfair to honor a person who has committed brutality and atrocities towards others as a hero. The constant presence of a statue would antagonize the people effected. Same goes for naming buildings, roads in their honor. But where will this stop? How can history be revised or rewritten!

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Sicilian Storyteller September 14, 2022 / 4:04 am

      Good point, Sadje. History cannot be revised or rewritten and the removal of these statues, paintings and buildings will change nothing. You’ve seen the outrage as a result of their removal and destruction. No one can convince me that was a good reaction.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The Sicilian Storyteller September 14, 2022 / 4:01 am

    As the saying goes, “I stand with Pete!” I cried the day I watched the paintings of our forefathers being removed. I cried when I saw the statues of our historical figures being vandalized and torn down. Perhaps injustices were done and crimes against people were committed. I am NOT in defense of that. I am in defense of preserving history, in all its ugliness at times and in all it’s magnificent glory. It should stand. We have seen extreme action taken and witnessed riots due to differing opinions. What a shame. What a disgrace. It is our history, good or bad, and I embrace it and hopefully will learn from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 14, 2022 / 1:06 pm

      I’m of the opinion that removing statues or paintings honoring individuals who did evil things or committed crimes against people, society, or the nation does not remove this history of their deeds or actions. It only removes the honors bestowed upon them through the statues or paintings. The history remains, the honor is removed. But as they say, different strokes for different folks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Irene September 15, 2022 / 5:44 am

        I agree with you, and Sadje, in a way, too. You do not see any buildings with the name, or statues of, say, Hitler, anywhere, right? But on the other hand, some measures are just going too far, and offend the regular folk who are trying to remember their ancestors. Removing statues as removing honour is a tricky issue, because people do not get their medals stripped if they commit bad acts later on, just look at Prince Andrew, or Rudy Giuliani, who are disgraced now, but were honoured for their military actions, and crisis response, respectively.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marleen September 15, 2022 / 8:15 am

          I do think the queen took away Prince Andrew’s military honors, actually. As for Giuliani, he has disgraced himself (even prior to working for Trump as President). Biden said of him, something along the line of Everything he says contains a noun, a verb, and 9/11. He got himself involved in scandals for money based on his famous name.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen September 15, 2022 / 8:24 am

      I’ve been searching but can’t find where or when paintings of our forefathers were removed. However, I remember a different kind of story involving a Republican governor unilaterally taking down artwork belonging to the citizens of his state.

      https://www.foxnews.com/politics/uncle-sam-tells-maine-governor-to-repay-cost-of-removed-mural-of-labor-history

      Not reported in this article, what bothered the governor is that workers are shown in the mural (while he identified more with, or wanted to kiss the butts of, employers).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nope, Not Pam September 14, 2022 / 4:06 am

    I don’t agree with it. The statute doesn’t necessarily represent just an honour, it is a reminder. A reminder that stuff happens and it can’t be forgotten.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. trishsplace September 14, 2022 / 4:14 am

    What if the person honoured by the statue, on the whole, did good things, had the best intentions? In the context of their time, their behaviour was acceptable, or more like the norm?
    If in hindsight we find the behaviour unacceptable, it doesn’t undo the good they were honoured for.
    Also, it does remind us a) of the things we should aspire not to do and b) that things aren’t always black and white.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Marleen September 14, 2022 / 6:20 pm

      Some people were honored for really nothing good at all. It does become difficult to figure out where the line is when some people did do a little to a lot good (beyond making a bunch of money and beyond being, say, a good or acceptable husband as far as anybody could tell). I mean for public memorabilia; not so much hand-wringing for a personal mosoleum in the back yard of an estate or maybe even a cemetery. But then there’s the stance of just leaving it all up, and wherever it was put and no matter why.

      Liked by 1 person

      • trishsplace September 14, 2022 / 9:27 pm

        Maybe if you leave the statue up, but pay it no attention, it gathers pigeon poo and gradually wears away. Then if there’s a good local reason to consider removing and replacing with something else, have a conversation? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marleen September 14, 2022 / 10:49 pm

          Pigeon poo is good.

          Like

  5. Nortina S. September 14, 2022 / 4:58 am

    I’m on the fence about this one. I do think history should be preserved, but at the same time, as a descendent of slaves, I’m not losing any sleep over a Confederate monument coming down. I really don’t care that much to remember racists. If we could figure out a way to teach the history without it coming off as a slap in the face to the people this person definitely would have oppressed, then maybe. But if someone’s disagreement to taking it down escalates to the point of violence, they should really pause and ask themselves what exactly are they fighting for.

    I wrote a story attempting to answer this question a few years ago, when a Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam” on UNC’s campus was taken down. You can read it here: https://lovelycurses.com/2017/10/31/sam-speaks/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marleen September 14, 2022 / 7:15 pm

      Thank you for sharing your linked story! I did have another idea, that I hadn’t said yet; that if we keep any of the Confederates or slavers up (out in the open and not in museums), we should not protect them from graffiti or rotten eggs or even hammer dents. We could figure into the cost not policing against disrespect but the fact of cleaning up the stinky stuff from time to time. And you conveyed another important point (among many), one I’ll repeat — it’s not someone who wants it torn down that is violent, but the person who becomes personally harmful in reaction. I appreciate how you point out they ought to ask themselves what they’re fighting for.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gr8BigFun September 14, 2022 / 5:16 am

    My biggest concern is about the practice of erasing history is to look at history through today’s lens. Our founders built our nations and yes they may have done horrible things by today’s standards but change does not happen over night. It is a process we are still working towards, each generation inching towards a fairer, more inclusive society. Take our own blight here in Canada. The residential school system and the treatment of our own Aboriginal communities. We have taken to tearing down the statues of our first prime minister, and renaming schools previously named in his honour. The school system remained in place for over 130 years supported by governments and opposition parties of all stripes yet we see fit to only condemn the right wing politicians who supported the policy. If we only view history through today’s lens we could argue that almost every historical figure should be expunged from the record. A hundred years from now will we look at Obama or Trudeau or Queen Elizabeth and say they need to be erased from history because they didn’t move the yardstick forward fast enough or with as much effort as we believe they should have. These people build our nations, they weren’t perfect but I am proud of the country I live in. Are we perfect, no but those who came before us started us on the journey that brought us here. We need to embrace our history, both the good and bad, not expunge it from the records.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ganga1996 September 14, 2022 / 5:29 am

    The British came to India and changed the names of major cities. Indian retaines it for nearly half the century. Then a political party made it their manifesto to change it to their old names. One fine day all the mames were changed. I felt it was more polite than the love towards that city. Keeping or removing a statue is not going to change anything. I feel it is a bit politcal on both sides seeking public attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paula Light September 14, 2022 / 6:54 am

    I’m fine with taking away monuments to oppressors, changing street and building names, etc. But my opinion doesn’t matter. How about we only let Black descendants from slaves vote on these issues? Take white people out of the equation for once!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. rugby843 September 14, 2022 / 12:21 pm

    I’m not getting into it because I have opposite thoughts in my own head🤪

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Marleen September 14, 2022 / 4:03 pm

    Things aren’t always black and white. The doing of some good, and especially for the time, applies to the likes of George Washington (in my opinion while I’m prepared to change my mind). Abraham Lincoln. Theodore Roosevelt. I guess we’d tolerate statues of any of our actual presidents (outside of that tippy-top list); some of them did some even worse stuff than we know of from Washington’s living counter to his and other of the Founders’ words as we understand them — which we may have been conditioned not to actually understand because of the hypocrisy, then and repeated when we were supposedly going to engage in Reconstruction. And we keep doing it. It’s difficult to grasp, but mass incarceration is an extension of the mindset over again but couched differently.

    I’m pretty sure the CIA building is named after the initial director, who was a jerk (putting it mildly). It seems rational, to me, to leave his name on it. Have we really gotten better? I doubt it. Plus, if that was the first guy… that’s the history. On the other hand, we could take his name away from the airport called Dulles. Some buildings have been renamed, although I don’t remember which* specifically. Generally, I know there are times it seems a good idea. Other times, it’s simply to advertise a present-day jerk (instead of somebody obscure to current ears) — usually a billionaire or a monopolistic corporation or a lawyer who smooths the way for these to walk all over the near entirety of humanity. If we change the honorary billing or outright bribing, it ought be a serious task.

    To some extent, I’m pretty sure any actual statue is fraught with angst; might be inherent idolatry. We can see that as not bad due to a list of Ten Commandments but because it’s internally destructive or numbing to the living soul of humanity. I take names of buildings and murals and relief [especially bas-] sculpture and certainly plaques to be of a different order. My own dad made a few “death masks” (like three or four in far-reaching styles) of himself (probably technically “life masks” since he was alive when they “were” made) in fun as an art teacher. He packed them away and didn’t show them off. I treasure them, yet gave one to a cousin. If he’d made a statue, though, I would find it weird. I adore him. I won’t have one made. Some people actually do if only for a cemetery.

    I like the idea of being reminded what not to do. I have come to conclude that making statues is probably one of those things. Having said that, I still would leave up the statue of Lincoln in Washington D.C. [I do wonder about the D.C. attachment but need a way to differentiate from the state. And, yeah, those who established the Capitol were fine with him.] Leaving up the (freakin’ huge) statue, as a sign of wished-for directional change, the embarrassing words there should be left along with it. Nevertheless, in the end and not too long from now, the planet will be a monument (with straggling observers) to the destruction wreaked by the most powerful of people — who thought they were the smartest and that their power is good. Those who mold civilization destroy.

    In an academic video I shared, recently, a fellow who was meaningfully persuasive as to why it’s good to read “Moby Dick” said, in addition or an overstep, that humans pretty much by nature ruin the world. But that appears to me an unconscious and inconsistent assumption. Humans have lived in harmony with the rainforest for millennia. But other humans rout them out, sending them to polluted cities and destroying the habitat and processor on-whole of carbon dioxide. In addition, Indigenous Northern Americans were mindful of animal populations in long-term and symbiotic thinking. But capitalists preferred short-term. Well, we got it. I like a statue in Time Square, too… invokes, to my eyes, a Black Native American; it’s well done, and he’s on a horse.

    *A type of example is university halls. [ I appreciate universities as a positive along the years of our establishments. However, the overwhelming preference even there has been toward monetary gain (witness among this the revelations looking back to exploitation of Black people for the Ivy Leagues) while there was an attempt to reach above that base desire to higher thoughts at greater and lesser degrees sometimes; the worship of wealth has won out in these latter days (as our perception as to progress didn’t move us beyond). Annoyingly, many who cast doubt on “higher learning” do so in a mental poverty to display their ignorance (whether college-educated or not) by wishing for “values” that continue the love of the root per many and all kinds of evil. The winners will take in more via their self congratulations or the modern groveling unto them. To some extent, rebels are okay and an important aspect of our psyche… but, really? Not for better than to continue with the unevolved? And why do ordinary men want to argue for those who would have looked down on them only less, but looked down anyway, if they were white? That is the reality of the lost cause. It’s presently too late. It won’t make a difference, in terms of real change necessary to salvaging anything we hold dear, if we remove or switch out the statuary… or not. Notwithstanding, it can be argued that a personal awakening will suffice.]

    Now I will go ahead and show that I had not seen all the details of a matter I, in the above writing, communicated strong feelings about. I love it.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumors_of_War

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen September 14, 2022 / 5:25 pm

      https://www.npr.org/2019/10/04/767339453/kehinde-wiley-debuts-sculpture-in-times-square-featuring-an-african-american-war

      Kehinde Wiley Debuts Sculpture In Times Square Featuring An African American Warrior

      October 4, 2019

      {Here, at the link, one can click to hear the article. It’s two minutes.}

      The statue, “Rumors of War,” is artist Kehinde Wiley’s first public work of art. It echoes statues of generals on horseback but this warrior is African American, in dreadlocks and Nike shoes.

      MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: Kehinde Wiley painted the official portrait of President Barack Obama that was unveiled last year. Wiley often shows African Americans in the heroic poses of old masters …

      ~

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen September 15, 2022 / 6:35 pm

      I’ve looked at various articles and statements, now. I can’t find a difinitive requirement that the individual in sculpture on horseback in Times Square (for a couple weeks or so over a couple months in late 2019) be understood as a “warrior” instead of plainly a person per se. I’ve seen “young African American male” and “rider” and “young man” in print as well as a statement that an intention of the work is to “subsume” a historical fetish, in equestrian art, with state violence and establishment of dominance. It’s art, so interpretation happens. Hence, remembering the historical presentation context via this sort of equestrian statuary, many will think of a warrior. A comment under a different (June 2020) NPR article (one that uses the interpretation as to rider, or more direct observation in preference to interpreting, given the young man is on an active horse in a capable manner) said, “At last, an equestrian statue with a sense of humor.”

      Next, I will add an example of where I’d say we might need to be more careful. Then, again, I can see why those in charge went the way they did (and why people using the room wanted that).

      https://theconversation.com/the-misguided-campaign-to-remove-a-thomas-hart-benton-mural-86431

      Benton’s “America Today” (which can now be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) was the first major American mural painting to focus on contemporary working-class Americans, rather than heroes in colonial garb or allegorical figures.

      Throughout his life and career, the painter adamantly denounced racism. One of the very first articles he published, a 1924 essay in the journal “Arts,” contains a snide dismissal of the Klan. In 1935, he took part in a widely publicized exhibition, “An Art Commentary on Lynching,” organized by the NAACP …

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Marilyn Armstrong September 14, 2022 / 6:14 pm

    I see no reason to honor those who dishonored themselves. We teach history the way we’d like it to be, not the way it was. You don’t honor history by honoring traitors or mass murderers. That dishonors all their victims. Maybe we should take a big pass on gigantic bronze and iron statues of war heros on principle. If we spent less time “honoring war,” we might spend less time fighting them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 14, 2022 / 10:38 pm

      I agree with you, Marilyn. No human is perfect and everyone has done something at one time or another was regretful, but to honor those whose most notable achievements were traitorous or despicable by erecting statues in their honor dishonors, as you pointed out, those who were hurt by them, their victims.

      Like

  12. Lolsy's Library September 15, 2022 / 11:10 pm

    In Germany, it’s illegal to display Nazi things. There are also, apparently, no more plantations in the US. I don’t think get rid of though. Place them in their appropriate places though, make sure people know who they are. Place them in a museum all about the TRUE History of who they were. I just don’t think they should be out, like they’re celebrated.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Marleen September 16, 2022 / 3:07 pm

    We should put up a brass plaque, integrated with a sturdy brass stand, showing a tactile impression of Brett Favre’s face (alongside maybe a couple other now-to-be infamous faces) and a text conversation out in the news today. We can put it next to a life-sized (not overly large) statue of Bennie Thompson.

    https://apple.news/AbJfo7-viSfS7xk8WCQxf8g

    Newly released text messages from NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre show he was much more involved than previously known in pushing for millions of federal welfare dollars to be diverted from helping poor families to instead pay for a new volleyball facility at the school where his daughter played the sport.

    The messages, released in a court filing this week, also reveal that Favre sought reassurances from a nonprofit executive that the public would never learn he was seeking millions of dollars in grants that ultimately came from the Mississippi welfare agency.

    In July, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D.-Miss., asked the Justice Department to look into the role that Favre and former Gov. Phil Bryant played in the sprawling welfare scandal.

    The welfare funds in question were part of the $86 million Mississippi is given each year by the federal government to lift families out of poverty. Mississippi is the poorest state in the country, with almost 200,000 children living below the poverty line.

    The text messages were first reported by Mississippi Today and came to light on Monday through court filings in a civil case spurred by the largest public spending scandal in the state’s history. The state auditor uncovered $77 million in misspent welfare funds in February 2020. The state filed a civil suit against 38 defendants.

    According to text messages and court filings, the idea to divert funds to the volleyball facility appears to have been discussed at a July 2017 meeting that included Favre, John Davis, the head of Mississippi’s welfare agency (known as the Department of Human Services, DHS), and Nancy New, whose charity was getting millions in grants from the state agency. New, Davis and Favre are defendants in the state’s civil suit.

    The text messages, which were part of a filing by New’s attorney, do not establish that Favre knew the public funds discussed were welfare money.

    The volleyball facility, which has now been completed, is at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s alma mater.

    …..

    A lawyer for Davis declined to comment. Davis has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and conspiracy.
    New’s nonprofit was supposed to be focused on running programs to help families in poverty. But New alleges in court documents that she was directed by Davis and Bryant to misspend millions of welfare funds by distributing it to Davis’ friends and family as well as to former professional wrestlers and Favre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen September 16, 2022 / 3:16 pm

      https://apple.news/AVCmJVX49R5CO6GEVphlKGw

      Not sure if we should put it on the campus near the volleyball building or by the capital city’s useless water treatment plant (for the largest city in the state) or in a public park or inside the front door of Mississippi’s DHS. Or maybe Rep. Bennie Thompson, D.-Miss. should get a statue in D.C.’s National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol building.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. leigha66 September 17, 2022 / 3:05 pm

    I think the statues show that those in the past celebrated them and their awful deeds. We can choose not to look upon them with adoration but with honesty of how they treated other. I think that is why I like the option someone up there suggested of a museum for the truth from all sides. Afterall this sculpture is not just about the person, but should be seen as a work of art too. If Mona Lisa did horrible things in her past would the portrait still not be well painted?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Carol anne September 18, 2022 / 12:21 am

    Yes. I feel its justified. I don’t think they should be honoured. Why should they have a statue in their honour? Its wrong. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Marleen September 18, 2022 / 12:49 pm

    2019 • Ask people to draw a connection between the words “America” and “colonies,” and most will conjure up revolutionary images of 1776. But America’s colonial history extends much further than the 18th century, and involves a different power dynamic, one in which America was the colonizer, not the colonized. For example, in 1945, the US claimed jurisdiction over more people living outside the States than inside them. In How to Hide an Empire, Northwestern professor Daniel Immerwahr traces the crucial yet oft-obscured role that US overseas territories have played in the development of the nation. From island colonies to military bases…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen September 18, 2022 / 1:38 pm

      Exposing The REAL History Of British
      Colonialism… In The Wake Of Queen Elizabeth’s Death

      Liked by 1 person

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