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How do we think about taking down controversial statues in the UK?
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The controversial statues venerate evil people

We do not put up statues to denigrate, but to celebrate. As society progresses, our definition of what is morally acceptable changes. Celebrating statues of people associated with evil acts create a narrative unfitting of 21st-century values.

The Argument

Those in favour of controversial statues being removed from public spaces have every right to demand their removal. These statues celebrate some of history's greatest infamies against humanity. Recent pushbacks against displaying statues of perpetrators of evil were brought to light during UK Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020. In Bristol, anti-racism protestors controversially toppled slave trader Edward Colston's statue into the harbour. This opened the conversation on when and where it is appropriate to display statues of people commended for acts of evil. People are asking if it acceptable at all.[1] On the same day, demonstrators united over the crane-lifted removal of slave-owner Robert Milligan's statue outside the Museum of London Docklands. The Museum itself denigrated Milligans' crimes against humanity. They also reiterated society's ongoing systemic problem of whitewashing history, as per its celebration of racist statues.[2] The two examples above highlight significant backlash against the celebration of statues linked to people who commit acts of evil. Anti-racist activists understand that the slave trade can be remembered without glorifying its perpetrators in public spaces.[3] In the 21st century, the acts of evil people should be denigrated, not celebrated. For this reason, these statues should be removed.

Counter arguments

Some people in opposition of removing controversial statues feel it is an attempt at erasing history. Statues can be seen to teach us about the attitudes and standards of the past, which may have been acceptable then, but are by no means acceptable now. They argue it is wrong to judge people from the past by today's standards.[4] While figures like Edward Colston are linked to acts that are undeniably evil by modern standards, history is complex, and no one is inherently or exclusively evil. Colston's philanthropic nature and generous charitable donations greatly benefited his home town of Bristol.[5] This suggests that there is a valid argument for controversial statues to remain.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 00:59 UTC

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