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It’s an issue that has made itself heard over many others, but the push to removal Confederate statues might not be as big as it makes out.
As the moral crusade of righting the immortalised wrongs of history begins in earnest, as the faces of ancient accepted evil plunge into the modern footpath of unacceptability, lighthoused by the internet push to immortalise Missy Elliot in lieu of whichever dead redneck we deem suitable; and indeed before it arrives on local shores, I certainly believe that we should check ourselves before get rekt and collectively cast Mrs Macquarie’s Chair into the sea.
On the surface, the tearing down of Confederate nabobs, or the likenesses of colonialism makes sense. In that, the removal of all mentioning, reference or marbled nods of the head to white power, or bloody pasts, can be nothing but a positive thing. Remove statue, add understanding, equals better. But beyond the algebra of academia, there’s a significant remainder left irl.
That being said, Twitter is an ideal home for this issue to be raised in, it’s doting parents outrage and outrageous mirth proudly showing off their wailing sprog with each rolling meme, backed by the retweets of naw many hundreds of thousands of times over. I mean, even we’ve tucked into the family bucket of lols. It’s fair game, because a fair number of people agree that the continued existence of granite honourings of slave traders and treasonists represent the anthesis of progress, right? However, outside the Chamber of Echoes, and beyond the club wielding, wart-featured arms of the trolls, this issue takes on a different shape.
A Marist poll (in the words of our Chief Political Analyst is ‘The Gold Standard’ of measured polls), enabled by the unaligned PBS, discovered something galling: America doesn’t care as much as you think.
Now, there are many angles that make up this geopolitical trapezoid, what with the Democrats ostensibly split on whether the statues should remain or not; with the most liberal of the Liberals only mustering 57% to come in like an empathetic wrecking ball. Which, given the amount of Confederate flipping afoot, it’s an anaemic figure.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) August 19, 2017
The most interesting point regards race, which was the pretext of the visceral clusterfuck of Charlottesville that necessitated the question. Particularly in those polled in the African American field. Amazingly, a greater percentage (44%) wanted the statues to remain in place over those who wanted them removed on the grounds that it would be offensive to keep them (40%). Staggering. Let’s not forget, alongside the whole reason the statue was there in the first place (cough: The Civil War) and what it was fought over (cough: Slavery), the tearing down of a Confederate General was the verb that rebirthed the peeling corpse of white supremacism so grating that the label Nazi was dusted off and slapped upon their upper arms. This issue travelled all the way to DC, where two bumbling tangerine thumbs complained, reverbing off the kitchenettes of Twitter notables, articulating through clenched teeth, rolling all the way down the humble hardware megastore that felt the need to ward off Nazis with their strongly worded note. Nazis march again. Despite the media shitstorm that suggested that this issue grabbed the Eagle’s testicles and made it split eardrums in shrieking complaint, outrage didn’t ring every doorbell. 62% want the statues to remain.
Given the amount of Confederate flipping afoot, it’s an anaemic figure.
It seems that America is larger than one hundred and forty characters. Which is easy to forget, as the man tasked to run it solely deals in crimes of taste and syntax within those tolerances. This oddly nuanced clash doesn’t make much sense to us, what we see is angry people fighting hateful people, and we, especially me would consider the split binary. Nazis versus America. Guess not.
Now, the question must turn to us. What are we to do. Despite the notable absence of a civil war, our history is no less bloody, no less shameful. I’m not defending the heinous actions of those cast forever outside train stations, but I don’t want to see them torn down. I’m confused. Fortunately, my ancestors are perfect metaphors of this duality. We were both the invaders and the invaded. Over the weekend, I was, via my mum, able to speak to a member of the community that my blood is tied to, a family member that I’ve never met. I asked him what he thought about the statue of Lachlan Macquarie that stands on the street that bears his name. As Governor, Macquarie oversaw a great expansion of colonised land, a complicated character who oversaw the education of as many native peoples as he saw the end of. A man who is colloquially responsible for authoring the term ‘Australia’, a word that could arguably forever double as a metaphor for the official wresting of the land from black hands to white. So, he fits the bill. But, when I asked my uncle, I was met by a long pause. “The thing is” he said, “…many people are many things. Especially when they’re no longer around. I understand the need to heal, and to ensure that nothing like that will ever happen again by searing it from our minds, but for me, it’s already happened. Whether he has a statue or not, is irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that our problems are about what happens tomorrow, not yesterday.”
Whether that works for you, or not, is entirely subjective. Leaning back to the poll, remember that 44% of the descendants of slaves, no more than 150 years ago, wanted to keep their ancestor’s antagonists on their perch. Whether it’s to remember, or to ignore remains to be seen. While countries may never fully heal, or make amends for their pasts, they do tend to change. Whether that means whitewashing over those who came before is up for discussion, and one we should be able to have, sans the presence of tiki torches.