The statue genocide that has been perpetrated by the Black Lives Matter movement is such a painful topic for me that it is often too difficult for me to read about it. But on occasions when I feel able to do so, I try to research this topic, both for a website that I am working on that memorializes its victims, as well as for the purpose of determining if there are any states in the U.S. that have been untouched by the genocide and therefore are possible places where I could live. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any. When researching the possibility of moving to New Hampshire, I came across an article from the New Hampshire Union Leader outlining the efforts of the politically correct bullies to ruin everything in the state. There are numerous problems with the article and with the people quoted in it, which I will outline below:
First of all, the entire premise of the article is wrong. The author, Shawne Wickham, characterizes the destruction of everything good in the world as a “soul-searching” motivated by learning more about monuments and the historical figures they represent. It is assumed that everything from getting rid of Aunt Jemima from the pancake mix, to taking down a weathervane depicting a Native American at Dartmouth College, to renaming Franklin Pierce University, to renaming the city of Keene, to altering the Hannah Duston Memorial, is a good thing. But these are bad things which eliminate the richness, beauty, and diversity of our world and move us closer to a society in which every person thinks the same and every place looks the same. We should be aiming to add more beautiful, amazing, wonderful, distinctive, glorious, unique, and diverse things to our world, not to eliminate the few existing ones. New Hampshire has never had any statues of Christopher Columbus or of any Confederate generals, and the article presumes that this is a good thing, but it is not. What would actually make the world a better place is to add more Confederate statues and more Columbus statues to our public spaces, but, as is the case with almost all of the media coverage over the past year about the topic of statues, this is not even presented as an option.
A major topic of the article is the statue of Hannah Duston in Boscawen, NH. Duston is a woman who was captured by Native Americans in 1697. The Native Americans killed her baby, and she eventually escaped and killed 10 of them in revenge. University of New Hampshire Professor Meghan Howey and Abenaki leader Denise Pouliot joined forces to “address” the statue (there again is the false assumption that the existence of statues that are at all different, distinctive, or controversial is a problem that needs to be solved, as opposed to a good thing that the world needs more of). Their plan is to create a park called “Unity Park N’dakinna” around the statue, including interpretive signage as well as a statue of an Abenaki family. The project will involve various experts such as artists, historians, and landscape designers, and a statewide fundraising campaign is planned. My question is… what is the point of all this? Without Columbus statues and Confederate statues, the world is not a place worth living in. There is no point in expending resources on any statues, parks, or public spaces until all of the Columbus statues and Confederate statues have been put back up. It is not fair that one group of people gets to design a park that represents their history and values, while other people are forced to live in a world where everything that represents their history and values has been destroyed. It is a slap in the face to read about all the thought, effort, expertise, and money being used to create this park, while I am no longer able to enjoy any parks in my hometown of Boston because they remind me of the fact that the statue of my hero, Christopher Columbus, was brutally beheaded and the city has made no effort to hold the perpetrators accountable. To focus resources on this park, while everything that makes my life worth living has been destroyed, is to tell me that my pain does not matter, that my feelings do not matter, and that my happiness does not matter. It is to tell the Italian-American community and the Confederate community that our lives, and the lives of our ancestors, do not matter.
Another topic of the article is Confederate statues. Ellen Townes-Anderson, a professor at Rutgers, argues in the article that obliterating statues of Confederate leaders does not amount to erasing history, because battlefields, museums, and books still exist and are still available to those who wish to learn. This is true, but what makes Confederate statues so important is not just their educational value but also the fact that Confederate leaders deserve to be honored and glorified. They fought bravely for the cause of individual liberty and self-determination. The existence of beautiful statues honoring deserving people and causes is an essential part of what gives cities, towns, statues, and countries their identities. It is a crucial part of having a world that is worth living in. Elizabeth Dubrulle at the New Hampshire Historical Society argues that Confederate statues are particularly bad because “they did commit treason… Where in the world would you put up statues to people who committed treason?” Anyone who uses the “treason” argument to criticize the Confederacy reveals him/herself to be an authoritarian and a bully. Every person and/or group of people has a fundamental right to leave his/her country and form a new one, and that is exactly what the Confederates fought to be able to do. Anyone who thinks that the Confederates committed “treason” by forming their own country is an authoritarian who tramples on individual rights. Dubrulle also mentions that Confederate statues were allegedly created to promote a racist agenda and that the Confederacy has come to symbolize white supremacy in modern times. But the motivations behind a statue’s creation, as well as people’s perceptions of the statue today, are not the deciding factors in evaluating the statue. What truly matters is who the statue depicts and what that person stood for, which may or may not match up with popular perception.
It’s horrific enough that magnificent statues of Columbus and of Confederate generals have been viciously destroyed across the country, but the ideas suggested by the people quoted in the article – such as renaming the city of Keene because its namesake participated in the slave trade and stripping President Franklin Pierce’s name from a university and law school because he had the audacity to compromise with the South on the issue of slavery – are downright ridiculous. Howey, the professor at UNH, suggests that this new way of looking at history is “much more interesting and nuanced,” but I see it as the opposite. The so-called experts quoted in the article, and many people in general, are essentially attempting to get rid of everything that honors anyone who is not considered 100% perfect according to the social norms of 2021. This makes history, and by extension the world, bland, boring, conformist, and soulless. History has been my passion since I was 10, and there is nothing interesting or appealing about this way of commemorating and studying history.
Rutgers professor Townes-Anderson says in the article that it feels for the first time “like real change is possible… we have the best chance we’ve had in a long time.” But the change of which she speaks – the eradication of Confederate statues from public spaces – is a negative change, not a positive one. The BLM movement is turning the world from a place that is mostly bad, with a few beautiful and good things still left, to a world that is 100% bad, in which the few remaining beautiful and good things have been destroyed. Media coverage of this topic needs to recognize this. Instead of being presented as something neutral or even positive, the statue genocide must be treated as the horrific injustice that it is.