This summer, intolerant bullies destroyed a statue of Col. John Chivington at the State Capitol building in Denver, Colorado. Native Americans are now advocating that the statue be replaced by one of a Cheyenne woman in a pose of mourning, which would serve as a memorial for the Sand Creek Massacre that Chivington was allegedly involved in.
In my opinion, this is the wrong decision, because it would reward the vandals who destroyed Chivington’s statue. While I am not sure of the identity of the exact people who tore the statue down, the people and organizations who advocated for and praised its destruction are the same ones advocating for the Native American statue to take its place. Those who destroy a statue, or are complicit in its destruction, should not be allowed to dictate its replacement.
The AP article on this topic discusses the “historical trauma” that Native Americans suffered and the “chance to right previous wrongs” that the new statue represents. But the real wrong in this case is the epidemic of brutal destruction that has been perpetrated against countless beautiful, historical statues and monuments. The real trauma is that which has been inflicted on people who love history, people such as myself who have seen nearly everything that makes life worth living destroyed in the span of less than a year. Yes, Native Americans have suffered trauma and unjust treatment, but statue destruction is not the solution to this. Destroying statues inflicts trauma and injustice on the people who love them. And rewarding those who destroy statues sends the message that the trauma and suffering of people like me does not matter.
Plus, there already is a memorial to the Sand Creek Massacre at the location where it took place in southeastern Colorado. It reduces diversity to remove the only statue of Chivington that there is and to replace it with a second memorial to something for which a memorial already exists. The only appropriate replacement for a statue of Chivington is a statue of Chivington. He was not perfect, but he was a human being, and no human being deserves to have their statue brutalized and their memory erased.