Save them, smash them, relocate them or critique them?

I’m not going to write about the tragic events in Charlottesville in this post. I think the VICE News video says it all. It should be obvious that in this particular march, the violence that occurred came overwhelmingly from the alt-right, many of whom came to the march armed with pepper spray and hidden assault weapons (see the end of the video), although I note for the record that a few protesters on the Left did as well. I am frankly mystified by President Trump’s reluctance to condemn the white nationalist marchers en masse and by his bizarre assertion that there were some people “protesting very quietly” at the torchlight march on the night before the rally (which has been debunked by Paul Blake of the BBC), but I doubt whether racism is his underlying motivation: after all, the marchers shouted Nazi slogans against the Jews, and the President’s own daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. Perhaps the man is morally timid, and reluctant to condemn even bad people who might vote for him. Or perhaps the President views racism as self-evidently absurd, requiring no further comment in the 21st century. Or perhaps he fears that by demonizing the 500 or so marchers who took part in the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, he will only succeed in making them look more appealing to alienated juvenile delinquents, thereby consolidating their base of support. I don’t know. In any case, this is not a post about Trump, whose White House seems to be facing a meltdown of its own making.

Instead, what I’d like to write about in this post is the question of what Americans should do with the 718 monuments and statues (709, according to the BBC) situated on public property throughout the country, mostly in the South, although there are also a few in former Union States, including Iowa, Kansas and Pennyslvania, and there’s even one in Massachusetts. The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a paper calling for their removal, and a summary of their responses to counter-arguments can be found on pages 38 to 39.

I’d like to begin by asking viewers how they feel about this video, showing a statue of a Confederate soldier being pulled down in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday (courtesy of World Viral Videos):

Watching the video, I had the sense of a genie being uncorked from a bottle. A dangerous one. And apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about the incident.

Heroes or Iconoclasts?

Writing in the New York Post, Michael Goodwin describes his reaction to the tearing down of the statue of a Confederate soldier, erected “In memory of the boys who wore gray,” in Durham on Monday (The startling reality facing America in wake of Virginia white power rally, August 15, 2017):

On one sightseeing trip around Durham, NC, I saw the statue that was pulled down Monday, and was struck by its prominence. It had stood on a main street since 1924, unprotected and unmolested.

But Monday, the statue was pulled to the ground, kicked and spat on. The scene resembled the felling of Saddam Hussein statues after the liberation of Iraq — with one difference. Our Civil War ended more than 150 years ago.

Goodwin concludes his commentary with a somber question: “Have our divisions become so deep that the only way to settle them is with another Civil War?”

“You are changing history”

In a press conference on Monday, August 14th, President Trump rhetorically asked where it would all end:

“George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said. “Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me — are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Good. Are we going to take down the statue? ’Cause he was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It’s fine. You are changing history; you’re changing culture.” (Quoted from No, President Trump, Washington’s slaves and Lee’s treason are not the same things, by Scott Martelle, Los Angeles Times August 16, 2017.)

However, many journalists have forcefully rejected the President’s “slippery slope” argument. In an article on Vox titled, The huge problem with comparing Lee and Davis to Washington and Jefferson (August 16, 2017), Matthew Yglesias argues that whereas the Founding Fathers at least did something that Americans can be proud of, the Confederates didn’t. There were no good parts to the Confederacy, so we shouldn’t commemorate it:

It would obviously be unreasonable to expect every celebrated historical figure to be without any kind of significant blemish. But the case against Confederate statuary is setting a much lower bar. It demands only that a celebrated historical figure have done something worth celebrating. Washington, Jefferson, and other mainstream American historical figures all clearly meet that test. Lee and Davis clearly flunk it.

A Los Angeles Times editorial (August 15, 2017) was even more scathing in its criticism of President Trump’s comments:

Washington was a slaveholder, to be sure, but that’s not what statues of him celebrate; they recognize him as the nation’s first president, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Lee, by contrast, left the U.S. Army to lead a rebel force that sought to dismantle the nation in a misguided and unsuccessful attempt to defend the slave system.

At first sight, the distinction these authors are making looks clear-cut, but on closer inspection, it loses its force. What do you say about President Andrew Jackson? While Jackson’s victory over British forces in the Battle of New Orleans is rightly celebrated by Americans, a strong case could be made that his bad deeds overshadow his good ones. The man not only made his fortune from slavery but also treated his slaves with extreme cruelty, even offering a public reward of “$10 for every 100 lashes a person will give” to an escaped slave of his, should they succeed in recapturing the slave. And it was Jackson who was responsible for the passing of the Indian Removal Act, which uprooted 46,000 Indians from five tribes and rounded them into concentration camps where many people starved to death, women were gang-raped, and some children were even forced to stand naked in the freezing cold. The survivors of these appalling brutalities were then forced to march west, in the infamous Trail of Tears. Twenty-five per cent didn’t make it.

In recent months, a group called Take ‘Em Down NOLA has campaigned to have Andrew Jackson’s statue removed from Jackson Square in New Orleans. Are they right? If not, why not? And if they are right, will statues of Jefferson be safe, 20 years from now, when he is already being described in a newspaper article as “a horrible man who owned 600 human beings, raped them, and literally worked them to death”? The author comments: “He should not have statues, or be on money, or even have a monument celebrating his positive contributions.”

Warts and all

Writing for American Thinker, R. B. Parrish remarks that he used not to care whether the Confederate memorials remained or were removed, but has changed his mind. A nation’s history is like a family album, and Americans cannot remove the photos of forebears who did things which we are now ashamed of without doing violence to their own history:

The Confederate statues are a remembrance of a part of our family saga. There were men who fought out of a sense of duty and who showed courage and others who did not. The same was true of the Union soldiers. The war, as wars generally do, brought out both greatness and venality. But we are the inheritors of both stories, and both the good and the bad. It is hoped we may learn something from it all, but with humility, we need to remember that we are no better or worse than those who came before us. We cannot claim that the past did not happen. Or that the pirate on the far limb of our family tree isn’t related to us.

All the pictures in our family album belong there, and it is deceitful for those who come after us if we pluck out some and leave only blank spaces in their place. We all sit at the same table.

If we are not to become black and white and Pole and Cossack and Greek again, then we must accept the common inheritance of our past. Removing statues from pedestals, crossing names out of textbooks (examine current schoolbooks on U.S. history, and you will discover how much has been omitted), denying the past, and magnifying errors will only ensure that we never gather together again as one.

Too many statues?

Some readers may grant the force of this argument, but reasonably ask whether Americans need to keep 700-odd Confederate statues around the country – especially when most of these monuments were built during the Jim Crow era and in response to the civil rights movement. Is 700 too many? Wouldn’t 70 be enough?

Should America simply relocate its Confederate statues?

Another option is to relocate the statues to a safe place where they can be kept. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has endorsed this option, calling for governing authorities in his state to remove Confederate statues, following the violence in Charlottesville, Va. “The recent events in Charlottesville demonstrate that monuments celebrating the leadership of the Confederacy have become flashpoints for hatred, division, and violence,” McAuliffe said. “Monuments should serve as unifiers, to inspire us collectively and venerate our greatest citizens.” He added: “I encourage Virginia’s localities and the General Assembly – which are vested with the legal authority – to take down these monuments and relocate them to museums or more appropriate settings.”

I should note, however, that if the museums in question are public museums, paid for by the taxpayer, then some citizens may well ask why these statues are being displayed in a public space, and acts of vandalism are likely to follow.

Or keep and critique?

Finally, in another article over at American Thinker, Bert Peterson has a different take. In an article titled, A way to bridge the divide over Robert E. Lee (August 16, 2017), he suggests keeping the statues, but attaching a plaque acknowledging the faults of the figures they honor, but explaining why these statues are still allowed to stand:

In this writer’s opinion, there is a better solution. Keep the statue. But with it, also include a plaque of Lee’s letter that appears above along with some comment – coming from the black community – as to why, notwithstanding the understandable offense to black Americans, the statue is still retained. “With malice toward none, and charity toward all,” let us strive to heal our divisions.

That strikes me as sensible, although the question that occurs to me is: who would be in charge of writing all these plaques?

A Plea for Civility

When I visited the United States in 1994-95, I was struck by how passionately its citizens believed in free speech. Here was a country that really lived out Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s aphorism, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (a remark falsely ascribed to Voltaire, though he may have said something similar).

In the past few years, however, there have been calls for the American government to clamp down on “hate speech,” and in recent days, even Piers Morgan, a commentator not known for his left-wing views, has tweeted that speech glorifying Nazism is unworthy of protection under America’s free speech laws. Charles Cooke explains why Morgan’s views are misguided, in an excellent article in National Review (There’s No ‘Nazi’ Exception to the First Amendment, August 16, 2017):

Under the doctrine laid out by a unanimous Supreme Court in the seminal Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, incitement to imminent lawless action may in some circumstances be prosecuted. But this rule is universal and narrow, and, crucially, is in no way akin to the sort of “hate speech” exceptions that obtain in every other country, and that so many Americans seem to believe exist here too. Under U.S. law it is legal for a speaker to say broadly that “all the Jews should be killed” or that “it is time for a revolution,” or that “slavery is good,” and it is not legal for a speaker to say to a crowd, “let’s all go and kill that guy wearing the yarmulke,” or “meet me in an hour at the armory and we’ll start our insurrection at the Post Office,” or “look at that black guy over there in the blue t-shirt, let’s chain him to my car.” Who is saying these things, however, does not matter in the slightest. Whether one likes it or not, Brandenburg applies as much to neo-Nazis as to the Amish, as consistently to Old Testament preachers as to gay rights activists, and as broadly to my mother as to David Duke. It applies in exactly the same way to good people, to bad people, and to those in between.

Over at Why Evolution Is True, Professor Jerry Coyne has also weighed in, with a post titled, Should there be Nazi or white supremacist speech bans? No! (August 15, 2017). As Coyne points out, “if you say that pro-Nazi speech or Holocaust denialism should be banned because it will lead to a revival of Nazi Germany, that’s simply not a credible view since the threat isn’t even remotely there, and, more important, what stifles the threat is free speech against Nazi speech.” Coyne’s post includes some telling quotes from a recent essay written by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept, which defends the ACLU for upholding the free speech rights of neo-Nazis, while criticizing President Trump for his proposals to outlaw flag-burning. Coyne concludes with a video of a rousing speech by the late Christopher Hitchens, given at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Debating Club in November 2006, which I think is well worth watching:

A transcript of the speech can be found here.

So, what do you think America should do with its Confederate statues? Over to you.

UPDATE (h/t Rod Dreher at The American Conservative):

An African American CNN commentator, Angela Rye, said this on the air (starts at 4:30):

“The heart of the problem is the way many of us were taught American history. American history is not all glorious. I love [CNN analyst] John [Avalon] to death, I couldn’t disagree more about George Washington. George Washington was a slave owner. We need to call slave owners out for what they are. Whether we think they were protecting American freedom or not. He wasn’t protecting my freedom. I wasn’t someone – my ancestors weren’t deemed human beings to him. To me, I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or a Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue, they all need to come down… I’m calling out white supremacy for what it is. And sometimes, what it is, John, are blind spots. Sometimes what it is, is not acknowledging this country was built upon a very violent past that resulted in the death and the raping and the killing of my ancestors. I’m not going to allow us to say it’s okay for Robert E. Lee but not a George Washington. We need to call it what it is.”

81 thoughts on “Save them, smash them, relocate them or critique them?

  1. Hi VJ,

    FWIW, I attended JEB Stuart High School. They may rename the school becaue he was a Confederate cavalry general….

    Living in Virginia, there are battlefield memorials all over the place.

    I will say there are some statues and honors of people I find despicable human beings like Nathan Bedford Forrest, confederate general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan and organizer of lynch mobs to terrorize unarmed blacks. To me this is like naming roads “Adolf Hitler.” There are roads and memorials dedicated to him. Disgusting.

    General Lee, seemed like a man of conscience and honor. Since he was head of West Point, the US Army military academy, this would raise some issues. He was also a war hero in the Mexican American war (although I guess a lot of the Latino’s would be even more eager in that case to have his statues destroyed).

    Stonewall Jackson was also an honorable man for the most part.

    So I’d like to see Lee and Jackson memory preserved. That’s just my personal feeling, and I most certainly could be wrong.

  2. More racists posts from Sal. Admins, where are you??

    Andrew Jackson was from a generation almost 100 years separated from Lee for crying out loud Sal.

    Besides you didn’t mention anything in your tax plan about contributing to federal statue protection Sal. Why do you always expect someone else to pay for you Sal? Is it part of your culture?

  3. Or perhaps he fears that by demonizing the 500 or so marchers who took part in the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, he will only succeed in making them look more appealing to alienated juvenile delinquents, thereby consolidating their base of support. I

    Sorry could not let this go by, the idea that Trump would act altruistically in any way has no basis in any observable action. Second, Trump needs to keep feeding his base anger and resentment, in order to motivate them to vote. He needs enemies

  4. I’m always mystified by this concern for statues.

    Why wouldn’t a Christian, such as VJ Torley, see it as idol worship and thus contrary to his religion?

  5. Neil Rickert,

    Neil, in several posts now Sal is sympathizing with the Nazis and white nationalists.

    With Lizzies new no-tolerance for racism policy, is this acceptable?

  6. I can relate to all this.
    We still have tons of monuments celebrating Franco’s dictatorship here in Spain, Including the infamous mausoleum Valle de los caídos where the remainings of Franco rest and where far right groups regularly glorify their fascist leaders.
    That piece of crap costs us almost 1 million dollars per year in tax payer money. It’s just plain obscene.

  7. I’d like to begin by asking viewers how they feel about this video, showing a statue of a Confederate soldier being pulled down in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday (courtesy of World Viral Videos):

    It is wrong to destroy public property and stupid way to make the point their point.As evidenced by the fact we are talking about the illegal action rather than what the statue represents. They have ceded the high ground

  8. newton: Sorry could not let this go by, the idea that Trump would act altruistically in any way has no basis in any observable action. Second, Trump needs to keep feeding his baseanger and resentment, in order to motivate them to vote. He needs enemies

    The interesting thing is so many people wait in line to be his enemy, in ways that enhance his political prospects.

  9. I personally have no strong feeling either way regarding the removal of confederate statues.

    For the record though, I find the argument, “you are changing history”, against their removal just plain absurd. One cannot change history by removing some reference to said historic event or person; one is merely removing the reference and any associated celebration of said event or person.

  10. Hi Neil Rickert,

    You might find the article on Images by Adrian Fortescue in The Catholic Encyclopedia to be of interest. The Catholic position is summed up in four points at the end of the article:

    “It is forbidden to give divine honour or worship to the angels and saints for this belongs to God alone.”
    “We should pay to the angels and saints an inferior honour or worship, for this is due to them as the servants and special friends of God.”
    “We should give to relics, crucifixes and holy pictures a relative honour, as they relate to Christ and his saints and are memorials of them.”
    “We do not pray to relics or images, for they can neither see nor hear nor help us.”

    The Orthodox position is pretty similar to the Catholic one. Some Anglicans (or Episcopalians) have images in their churches; others don’t. Protestants reject them altogether.

    You write: “I’m always mystified by this concern for statues.” Does the Lincoln Memorial mean nothing to you?

  11. Are you from Philippines, Sal?

    Yes. I have some Spanish and lots of Asian ancestry. Supposedly my great great great…grand father had blond hair (presumably from the more northern parts of Spain). Most of my countrymen say I look Chinese however.

    My great great great…grand father, named Andres Soriano, was the a prominent member of the Filipino KKK! See here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katipunan

    The Katipunan (usually abbreviated to KKK) was a Philippine revolutionary society founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892, whose primary aim was to gain independence from Spain through revolution. Based on recently found contemporary documents, the society has been organized as early as January 1892 but may have not became active until July 7 of the same year on the night when Filipino writer José Rizal was to be banished to Dapitan earlier in the day. Founded by Filipino patriots Andrés Bonifacio, Teodoro Plata, Ladislao Diwa and others, initially, the Katipunan was a secret organization until its discovery in 1896 that led to the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution.

    The Tagalog word “katipunan”, literally meaning ‘association’, comes from the root word “tipon,” a Tagalog word meaning “gather”.”[4][not in citation given] Its official revolutionary name was Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan[1][5] (lit. Supreme and Most Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation, Spanish: Suprema y Venerable Asociación de los Hijos del Pueblo). The Katipunan is also known by its acronym, KKK.[6]

    How about you, where are you from? Not that it matters. Just making conversation.

  12. vjtorley: “It is forbidden to give divine honour or worship to the angels and saints for this belongs to God alone.”
    “We should pay to the angels and saints an inferior honour or worship, for this is due to them as the servants and special friends of God.”
    “We should give to relics, crucifixes and holy pictures a relative honour, as they relate to Christ and his saints and are memorials of them.”
    “We do not pray to relics or images, for they can neither see nor hear nor help us.”

    Interesting. The Catholics here profess true devotion to their saints and many virgins, and regularly pray to images of them. Not saying you’re wrong about orthodoxy

  13. The majority of statues of Confederate icons were erected during the Jim Crow era and, later, in rejection of the Civil Rights movement. They have no place in a decent society and all of them should be taken down and destroyed. One should not idolize one’s history or tradition if that history or tradition are grounded in moral travesties. Just ask the Germans.

  14. Hi newton,

    You write:

    Sorry could not let this go by, the idea that Trump would act altruistically in any way has no basis in any observable action. Second, Trump needs to keep feeding his base anger and resentment, in order to motivate them to vote. He needs enemies.

    I wasn’t suggesting that Trump is altruistic. I was suggesting that he’s being prudent. Racism is a potent force, and it takes but a tiny spark to set the flames of hatred burning. I don’t think America will see a reply of the Civil War, but there’s a good chance it’ll see a replay of the protests of 1968 (see also here) next year. Trump may have thought that fibbing – and he must know it’s a fib – about some of the rioters protesting quietly (which they obviously didn’t) would mollify the alt-right and reduce the likelihood of a race war.

    You suggest that Trump is attacking Antifa in order to feed his base with anger and resentment, in order to motivate them to vote. I doubt it, because if that’s his aim, it’s obviously backfiring. His words seem to have made Antifa stronger, now that they’ve gained public respect. If Trump wants to win in 2020, he’d better drop the alt-right like a hot potato, or it’ll be a millstone around his neck. In fact, I wouldn’t give him that long, with all the talk of an impending market crash.

  15. stcordova: Yes.I have some Spanish and lots of Asian ancestry. Supposedly my great great great…grand father had blond hair (presumably from the more northern parts of Spain).Most of my countrymen say I look Chinese however.

    My great great great…grand father, named Andres Soriano, was the a prominent member of the Filipino KKK!See here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katipunan

    How about you, where are you from?Not that it matters.Just making conversation.

    I’m spanish. Too bad you don’t believe in common descent though. j/k

    So apart from the spanish oppressors your ancestors fought the americans too. Would you be OK with statues of Philippine–American War “heroes”? Are there any in the US?

  16. Sal-an immigrant who doesn’t want his taxes spent on the citizens of the country that he is a guest of.

  17. Kantian Naturalist: The majority of statues of Confederate icons were erected during the Jim Crow era and, later, in rejection of the Civil Rights movement.

    The only gray area that I can think of is battlefield memorials. The ‘State of Virginia Monument’ at Gettysburg is quite big and has Lee atop it. However, this seems different in that it is celebrating him as a combatant rather than as a cultural icon or moral pillar.

  18. RoyLT,

    But who is hurt by removing these statues, other than some flame carrying Hitler youth? Why should anyone care if their feelings are hurt?

  19. Would you be OK with statues of Philippine–American War “heroes”? Are there any in the US?

    I never thought about it, so I’m sorry I don’t have a good answer. I’ve not encountered any such statues.

    The Americans did kill a some Filipinos and subjugated them in connection with the Philippine-American war, but then MacArthur liberated them from the Japanese in WWII so the older generation Filipinos (from WWII era) loved Americans because so many American lost their lives liberating the Philippines. I guess that erased a lot of bad blood about the Philippine-American war. The younger generation Filipinos became very nationalistic and somewhat anti-American because of the US support of the dictator Marcos.

    Filipinos can be very prejudiced. I wouldn’t say racist as in hatred of other races but they are prejudiced. Many Filipino women I know think it’s quite an honor to have the children of caucasians. Lighter skin in Filipino women, tends to be associated with a higher social class. If a girl is half-white (mistissa), she will be revered almost automatically. All this to say, I don’t think Filipino’s in general despise Americans since lots of Filipino women would be honored to have their babies. On a personal note, my relatives have married whites, blacks, Iranians, Greeks and Filipinos.

    When I ask the question of other Asian cultures or even black Americans about preference for lighter skin color, that sort of prejudice and preference also exists. I guess I’m free to ask such questions since I’m dark skinned.

  20. vjtorley: His words seem to have made Antifa stronger, now that they’ve gained public respect.

    We’re totally in the realm of speculation now, but I’m not convinced that a stronger opposition movement is necessarily bad for his chances in 2020. The more power that movement gains, the more fear he can conjure with his base. And as for the people with whom the Antifa has gained respect, none of them were likely to vote for him anyway.

  21. petrushka: The interesting thing is so many people wait in line to be his enemy, in ways that enhance his political prospects.

    Not confronting him could also enhance his political standing, when dealing with someone who would burn down everything to win, most rational people are at a disadvantage. I have no doubt Trump will get us into a shooting war at some time to enhance his political survival.

  22. vjtorley: You write: “I’m always mystified by this concern for statues.” Does the Lincoln Memorial mean nothing to you?

    It pretty much means nothing.

    I honor Lincoln for what he achieved, not for some marble slabs.

  23. dazz: Interesting. The Catholics here profess true devotion to their saints and many virgins, and regularly pray to images of them. Not saying you’re wrong about orthodoxy

    One virgin and pray to that which the images represent.

  24. Dazz:

    How do you like Duterte?

    Honest answer at this moment: who is he?

    But after googling a few seconds later, I just found out he’s the President! Ouch.

    Ok, goes to show I think of you more you guys than of him. Hope that makes you all feel special.

    Seriously, I feel very disconnected from my Filipino heritage partly because I’m almost ashamed of it. I guess I grew to feel that way being a non-white in the USA. So I don’t feel like a Filipino, and neither do I feel like I’m an American because I’m not white. Yes, there are all the legal documents saying I’m an American, but I can’t run away from the way I feel. Don’t get me wrong, I love the USA and many of the people here have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome, but I can’t run away from my skin color the shape of my eyes and how it doesn’t make me feel integrated into a particular culture.

  25. newton: One virgin and pray to that which the images represent.

    dazz: https://sreyesm.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/lista-de-virgenes-y-patronas-de-espana/

    Just to clarify what I mean, catholics here join “cofradías” each of which is devoted to it’s own virgin. And they go crazy about them in a way that they don’t do about any other virgin. If you watch them during the Holy Week in their processions there’s no scaping the conclusion that they do in fact pay devotion to figures

  26. dazz:
    Just to clarify what I mean, catholicshere join “cofradías” each of which is devoted to it’s own virgin. And they go crazy about them in a way that they don’t do about any other virgin. If you watch them during the Holy Week in their processions there’s no scaping the conclusion that they do in fact pay devotion to figures

    It is an icon, it may be venerated as a holy object, but it points to the woman who gave birth to Jesus. One virgin ,many interpretations.

  27. newton: Not confrontinghim couldalso enhance his political standing, when dealing with someone who would burn down everything to win, most rational people are at a disadvantage. I have no doubt Trump will get us into a shooting war at some time to enhance his political survival.

    The CIA managed covertly to destroy two middle eastern countries and send millions of refugees to Europe. That’s coming to an end. Do yo think that was a good idea?

  28. petrushka: The CIA managed covertly to destroy two middle eastern countries and send millions of refugees to Europe. That’s coming to an end. Do yo think that was a good idea?

    which two?

  29. stcordova: I guess I grew to feel that way being a non-white in the USA.

    I feel for you on this issue because I have personal knowledge of it from the other side. Being a white American and growing up in a very racist environment, I often (completely unintentionally) go directly to the ‘where are really you from’ sort of insinuation when I meet someone who appears to be of non-European heritage. I feel like a complete asshole when I do it, but the recovery from racism is long and difficult.

    Unfortunately, I do not feel that the current administration will have a positive effect on the spirit of inclusiveness that Americans are supposed to embody.

  30. RoyLT: I often (completely unintentionally) go directly to the ‘where are really you from’ sort of insinuation when I meet someone who appears to be of non-European heritage.

    I don’t see any racism in that. I live in a city with tons of immigrants, europeans, africans… in the context of a friendly convo it seems a perfectly acceptable question to ask. Even a great way to break the ice.
    One of my friends in high school was pitch black, and spoke perfect spanish. So when I first met him I simply asked him if he was of Guinean origin, and he was. No one would think of that as being racist if he or she looked scandinavian so…

  31. I’m not an American so take this for what it’s worth. If at a certain time in history it is considered legitimate to put up a statue of someone when what they have done is considered to be honourable, it is equally legitimate at a subsequent time in history to remove that same statue when the moral compass has swung in another direction, so that what they did is no longer considered honourable, but outright immoral.

    A statue says less about the person depicted as it says about the people who erect it, or, as the case may be, remove it.

    The whole question must pose an interesting conundrum for those who believe that morality is objective and unchanging.

  32. stcordova: Yes. I have some Spanish and lots of Asian ancestry. Supposedly my great great great…grand father had blond hair (presumably from the more northern parts of Spain). Most of my countrymen say I look Chinese however.

    Your great great great grandfather most likely wasn’t a Moors; that is he wasn’t of Arab descent. Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula, including Spain in the 9th century and influenced that part of Europe in many ways for over 500 years. Most Spaniards who have not descended from the Moors look like Easter Europeans but not all…

  33. Hi dazz,

    Just to clarify what I mean, catholics here join “cofradías” each of which is devoted to it’s own virgin. And they go crazy about them in a way that they don’t do about any other virgin. If you watch them during the Holy Week in their processions there’s no scaping the conclusion that they do in fact pay devotion to figures

    If that is indeed the case, then they’re sadly ignorant of Catholic doctrine.Here’s what Pope St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) wrote to a bishop who had destroyed the images in his diocese: “Not without reason has antiquity allowed the stories of saints to be painted in holy places. And we indeed entirely praise thee for not allowing them to be adored, but we blame thee for breaking them. For it is one thing to adore an image, it is quite another thing to learn from the appearance of a picture what we must adore. What books are to those who can read, that is a picture to the ignorant who look at it; in a picture even the unlearned may see what example they should follow; in a picture they who know no letters may yet read. Hence, for barbarians especially a picture takes the place of a book” (Ep. ix, 105, in P.L., LXXVII, 1027).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia comments that at that time, “in Rome especially, we find the position of holy images explained soberly and reasonably. They are the books of the ignorant.”

  34. dazz:
    I can relate to all this.
    We still have tons of monuments celebrating Franco’s dictatorship here in Spain, Including the infamous mausoleum Valle de los caídos where the remainings of Franco rest and where far right groups regularly glorify their fascist leaders.
    That piece of crap costs us almost 1 million dollars per year in tax payer money. It’s just plain obscene.

    I think this issue reaches back to the civil war of 1936…and the resentment still prevails among Spaniards on both sides of the conflict…

    I’m not sure if things have improved over the last 25 years or so, but when I lived in Spain in late 1980-ties, I found the majority of Spaniards to be racist, prejudiced and intolerant…To me the country was extremely divided and football, mainly the support for the major football (soccer) clubs like Barcelona FC and Real Madrid was fueling the hatred even more…

    Even famous Spanish soccer players often related that Spanish soccer fans are the most racist and intolerant in the world…

    The Spanish Civil War of 1936 was one of the darkest moments in Spain’s history and people on both sides of the conflict don’t have much to be proud about as both sides committed a lot of atrocities…

    Would things be much better if Franco and the church had not won the war?
    I personally doubt that…

  35. Hi Sal,

    Thanks very much for your interesting comments. I’ve learned something about the history of the Philippines from them.

    I’d agree with you that having a statue to the founder of the KKK on public display would be an obscenity, even if he was a Confederate general.

  36. vjtorley: If that is indeed the case, then they’re sadly ignorant of Catholic doctrine.

    while in their view, you’re ignorant of the catholic doctrine. because the catholic doctrine is what they’ve been taught by catholic priests since they were kids. Now they may be no true Scotsmen in your side of the pond (or even anywhere else in the Meditarranean, not sure) but they still identify as (the) true Catholics, and I can tell you they would firmly oppose anyone who dares question their devotion to their virgin of choice.

    Catholicism is not an american franchise

  37. J-Mac: I think this issue reaches back to the civil war of 1936…and the resentment still prevails among Spaniards on both sides of the conflict

    No shit sherlock

    J-Mac: I’m not sure if things have improved over the last 25 years or so, but when I lived in Spain in late 1980-ties, I found the majority of Spaniards to be racist, prejudiced and intolerant…To me the country was extremely divided and football, mainly the support for the major football (soccer) clubs like Barcelona FC and Real Madrid was fueling the hatred even more…

    Wasn’t the country also divided in terms of racism and bigotry? where in Spain did you live and who was that racism aimed at?

    J-Mac: To me the country was extremely divided and football, mainly the support for the major football (soccer) clubs like Barcelona FC and Real Madrid was fueling the hatred even more…

    that’s just ridiculous. I mean… really hilarious

    J-Mac: Would things be much better if Franco and the church had not won the war?
    I personally doubt that…

    It’s impossible to know, I guess, but…

    J-Mac: people on both sides of the conflict don’t have much to be proud about as both sides committed a lot of atrocities

    …this type of equidistance is just plain obnoxious. You’re comparing a known fascist, vindictive and assassin regime with an unknown alternative.

  38. vjtorley,

    To be fair, officially the Catholic Church claims that they do not and should not worship any images…Unofficially, it has been and probably still is one of the best business Catholic Church has even invested in…better then real estate, xxx movie industry, contraceptives and arms industry taken together…

    So, initially the church may have tried to avoid the image worship clearly prohibited by the bible, but the faithful took it into an extreme…So, the fear of retaliation from the religious bigots combine with greed probably won…

    One influential Catholic Church representative referred to the image industry as “the new economy of symbols” when CC registered unimaginably high profits from the sales of religious items after a slump influenced by sex abuse scandals…

    What’s the difference between the many Easter procession with different virgin Mary in countries like Spain:

    https://www.eyeonspain.com/userfiles/sevilless(2).jpg

    and the golden calf of genesis?

    https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/colloquium/files/2013/06/PoussinGoldenCalf.jpg

  39. J-Mac: I think this issue reaches back to the civil war of 1936…and the resentment still prevails among Spaniards on both sides of the conflict…

    I should clarify that, for the most part, people have moved on from that shit. It’s just that some staunch old farts still pretend the fascist regime might come back for the “rescue”. They’ll be gone sooner than later. Spain is now a modern country and there’s no way back

  40. dazz,

    Wasn’t the country also divided in terms of racism and bigotry? where in Spain did you live and who was that racism aimed at?

    It could have been…I often heard jokes about moriscos, blacks, Polacos (people from Catalonia. Stll don’t know why they were called Polaks) etc.

    Didn’t have much contact with religious bigots…Noticed that most people in churches were either very old or very young-kids…I lived all over…mainly Madrid

    that’s just ridiculous. I mean… really hilarious

    Are you a football fan?

    …this type of equidistance is just plain obnoxious. You’re comparing a known fascist, vindictive and assassin regime with an unknown alternative.

    It is true that Franco was a fascist supported by the church…However, we have seen in the not that remote history the so-called socialist or communist regimes…and what they were capable of…while it is impossible to say with certain accuracy “what if”, it is likely that whatever the alternative would have been, it could have been just as vindictive…

    BTW: One of the things I admired about Spaniards was their hospitality shown to strangers… I have never seen it anywhere in the world… 🙂

  41. dazz: I should clarify that, for the most part, people have moved on from that shit. It’s just that some staunch old farts still pretend the fascist regime might come back for the “rescue”. They’ll be gone sooner than later. Spain is now a modern country and there’s no way back

    I hope so…but the country, while modernized and with new outlook , still struggles with high unemployment especially among the young, and corruption…This kind of environment could be conducive to radical political changes…Look what happened in the US…

  42. “The recent events in Charlottesville demonstrate that monuments celebrating the leadership of the Confederacy have become flashpoints for hatred, division, and violence,”

    Bullshit. Utter Bullshit. They are monuments. They are inanimate. They don’t motivate anything.

  43. J-Mac: It could have been…I often heard jokes about moriscos, blacks, Polacos (people from Catalonia. Stll don’t know why they were called Polaks) etc.

    I can guess where those things came from. Now that crap is politically incorrect even in the right wing. It’s evolution baby!

    J-Mac: Are you a football fan?

    I sure am, and a Real Madrid fan at that. My brother, the person I love the most in this world is a Barça fan. Don’t be ridiculous, most football fans are civilized people. I can see where you’re coming from though, but now football in Spain is as much of a family show as any sport is in the US

    J-Mac: It is true that Franco was a fascist supported by the church…However, we have seen in the not that remote history the so-called socialist or communist regimes…and what they were capable of…while it is impossible to say with certain accuracy “what if”, it is likely that whatever the alternative would have been, it could have been just as vindictive…

    Spain was a democracy. An unstable one, perhaps, but it was the fascists that broke havoc in the country. Your assumption that the only alternative was some other communist dictatorship is unwarranted

    J-Mac: BTW: One of the things I admired about Spaniards was their hospitality shown to strangers

    except for moriscos, blacks and polacos?

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