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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Statues To Enjoy Or Destroy?

The year 2020 was hard on statues of historical figures in America, as many literally lost their place in public parks and along our thoroughfares. I cannot say that I regret that. Historical statues, especially larger-than-life statues, have always seemed unpleasant and repulsive, even frightening to me. While I cannot approve of the middle-of-the night brute force used to rope them, pull them down, tear them up, and drag them away, I am glad that they are gone. Hopefully they will not be replaced. Hopefully those statues that survived their maltreatment will be housed inside of museums where those who enjoy them and wish to pay their respects can do so without inflicting those strange statues on the general public. I say that we should respectfully place them in dedicated museums, hallowed halls that honor the past, and leave the open, public spaces focused on a good and better future.

Conversely, the huge, nude statues of the gods of antiquity, or coy mermaids and mermen frolicking with dolphins in sparkling water fountains are entertaining. I like them. I hope that they survive the purge. And animal statues portraying strength, nobility, or simply a peaceable kingdom set a pleasing public mood. But statues of our forceful leaders of the past who took us through wars, destruction, and injustice create a horrible mood, even the "good" ones are awful reminders of misery that degrade the public spaces. I was tired of being overwhelmed by their presence, of being made to think sad, bad thoughts on bright, sunny days. The 21st sensibility is that historical statues, most of them are cast with an overweening excess of size, manifest as disproportionately important, and command our unwilling attention to what are now perceived as highly unattractive personages from the past.

Some say not to judge the past by contemporary standards, I say why not? If the majority does not like to see statues of historical figures, they should not be forced to do so as the price of being outside. Again, it is time to house those over-sized beacons to the past in museums, and leave the bright future unencumbered.

Statues To Enjoy Or Destroy

GIF & JPG by Annmarie Throckmorton 2021

"Statues of historical figures are lazy, ugly and distort history. From Cecil Rhodes to Rosa Parks, let’s get rid of them all.", by Gary Younge, 06-01-21, who says in part:

"But while I can understand it, I do not agree with it. The problem isn’t that we have too few statues, but too many. I think it is a good thing that so many of these statues of pillagers, plunderers, bigots and thieves have been taken down. I think they are offensive. But I don’t think they should be taken down because they are offensive. I think they should be taken down because I think all statues should be taken down.

"Here, to be clear, I am talking about statues of people, not other works of public memorials such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, the Holocaust memorial in Berlin or the Famine memorial in Dublin. I think works like these serve the important function of public memorialisation, and many have the added benefit of being beautiful."

Why every single statue should come down.

Source: The Guardian, 06-01-21



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