Bird on a Fire wrote: ↑
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:28 pm
gosling wrote: ↑
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:15 pm
Is there a danger that we spend all our energy arguing about statues and history, so that we fail to address current issues?
It's not uncommon for a fairly low-stakes symbolic act to capture the public imagination and drown out more important stuff.
To give an example from a totally different area, Blue Planet II and other campaigners managed to get marine plastic pollution into the spotlight. It very quickly became "plastic straws are bad", a bunch of places in rich countries swapped to paper straws, and the difficult conversations about how to deal with waste-management in developing countries and the marine sector (responsible for almost all marine plastic waste) hasn't really happened. The use of plastic straws in most of the west is an irrelevance because they don't end up in the sea anyway.
That said, understanding history is key to understanding the present, and setting the current struggle in its correct context. I think the focus should be on redressing the balance about Britain's global role in spreading colonialism, imperialism, slavery and white supremacy, at which point the side issue of which statues are up because a bit clearer because we're no longer arguing about whether or not so-and-so was a c.nt.
Oh god, don't get me started on the straws. FISHING NETS are the big problem. Don't degrade, ghost-fish for f.cking decades, get dumped overboard if they break or just get cut loose if they snag. But let's not tackle the fishing industry (which is a law unto itself in so many ways anyway), let's go after plastic f.cking straws
back to the point. I do think that we could end up in a situation where people think that the statues are all down now, so that's the problem fixed, but I am hopeful that we won't. For one thing the outrage over the removals is spurring people to explain all the f.cking awful things the people represented did and that inevitably leads to thoughts like "hmm, Clive of India, turns out he was a bit of a sh.t, and so were all the blokes around him, maybe our time in India weren't the halycon days we've been sold".
As an minor anecdote, I had an email from my old school today admitting that the curriculum in my time wasn't very good at covering anything other than the dominant white narrative but they're already working to improve it and will continue to work on it. They even covered the Bristol Bus Boycotts which is quite impressive (god, what a low bar I have for impressive in this context).
The risk raised above is real and I think it's therefore incumbent on all of us who think the broader issues should be the focus, not whether or not a particular statue comes down, to ensure that those issues don't get forgotten.