Tuesday, August 15, 2017

21st century iconoclasm

As we contemplate storing Confederate statues (in New Orleans) or pulling them down (in Durham), it is worth asking, how did we react when Poles, Germans, Czechs etc. pulled down statues of Lenin and Marx, or when Iraqis pulled down (with some help from the US Army) statues of Saddam?

With approval, generally, I think. Few Americans worried about losing the heritage of those places.

Still popular in Tajikistan

And how did Americans react when they learned that statues to Stalin are still up in, eg, Tajikistan?

For that matter, how did they react when a bust of Stalin was put up in a congressionally-mandated park in Bedford, Virginia, one that was inaugurated without protest by President G.W. Bush?

That one took a while, but the bust was eventually put in storage. Along with one of Chiang Kai-shek.

Were rightwing admirers of Chiang miffed? Not as far as I can tell. And it seems nobody gives a damn about busts to Attlee, who was more of a socialist than Stalin ever was.

Evidently, bronze images evoke complicated reactions.

The Confederate memorials that stand, usually, at county courthouses were not wholly a result of Jim Crow or even of nostalgia for the Lost Cause.  They were peddled -- not too successfully -- by Northern foundrymasters around 1900. It's a capitalist country on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line and feelings are not expected to prevail when bucks are to be made.

My preference would be to put the statues in museums, with new statues in their place of people like, say, Elijah Lovejoy. Or if new statues are too costly, how about a text, in line with th Southern mania for erecting texts of the Decalogue? I suggest the words of the Mississippi  Convention that ratified secession:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.

UPDATE Wednesday

Lee and Jackson were ridden out of town in Baltimore. Although the vote to do so was public, the removal was done without notice in the middle of the night. As we used to say, ironically, the terrorists have won. We cannot say that ironically now. The armed rightwing terrorists control the public space.

Fans of the Second Amendment, whose principal claim is that it protects the citizenry from its government,  now have to explain how that works.


  1. I speak with very little knowledge of the topic, but my general impression is that 90% of the people against removing the statues are not doing so out of confederate (or nazi) sympathies.

    Just like voting for Trump, they are mostly doing so to stick it to the other side's face: the progressives they hate. And they hate progressives not due to their skins, but due to their political positions.

    Progressives hate them back, and we end up with a dynamics of hatred that, notwishtanding the few nazis around it, isn't really much about race.

  2. So why have all these racists flown the Confederate flag all these years? Few of them have any direct connection to the CSA.

    Not like me. My great grandfather was a colonel in the South Carolina militia, and a great great uncle had the honor of firing the third shot of the war.

    An earlier ancestor was among the best-known defenders of slavery.

    If anyone is entitled to preserve heritages, it's me.

    I certainly want to preserve the history, but not to celebrate it.

    It's all about race. None of these people ever wondered why this statue and not that, because their understanding of the fitness of things was that of course the white slavemasters were correct.

    Without that background, they wouldn't even think that they could stick it to the progressives this way. Just because they were not active racists until prodded by agents of fascism does not mean they were not deeply racist all along.

    Compare the German latent antisemitism. It is notorious that the antisemitic political parties failed around 1900. Not because the voters were not antisemitic but because everybody was: being an antisemitic candidate did not distinguish oneself.

    Now, inject a burr under the saddle -- the Diktat -- and blame the Jews. Very soon the death camps open.

    Trump is doing exactly the same thing.

    I said earlier --it was only stating the obvious -- that Trump's governing style was nazi. I was criticized here for saying so. Now everyone sees I was right.

  3. Well, Harry, your point of view is sure more grounded than mine, I live far away and get things only by the news.

    That said, I think that if Trump is trying to govern like Hitler, he is failing catastrophically. I can't imagine Hitler withstanding his own generals delivering statements that, ultimately, are a rebuke and ridicule of their President.

  4. Yes, Trump is too much of a flibbertigibbet to pull off a planned revolution. He is more like Mussolini, who bragged that his cruisers were the fastest in the world, which they were but only because they had been timed without their guns.

    Unlike Mussolini, Trump can do enormous damage even by inadvertance. So far he hasn't.

    But he wears his heart on his sleeve. He could not help revealing he's a nazi.

    Now the question becomes --who will fail to recognize that, and why. That that question is opened does mean that the US society is at risk of tearing itself apart.

    Did you see this about Mrs. Gorka?


  5. I guess the Gorkas will soon follow Bannon out...

  6. Trump is exactly in the position of despots of old, who could no trust anyone but family (and not always them). Eventually, his staff will be down to Jared and Ivanka and whatever toadies will stay just to be near the great one.

    I predict either McMaster or Kelly, or both, will go before the Gorkas.

    Gorka is a classic toadie.

    Almost the whole Digital Economy team quit today. These are people of real accomplishment and very low public profiles. I take their defections to be more significant than the exodus of the CEOs.

  7. The NYT attempts to paint Trump as a racist, fails.

    I said earlier --it was only stating the obvious -- that Trump's governing style was nazi. I was criticized here for saying so. Now everyone sees I was right.

    It isn't, not even close. And you are no more right now than then.

    Here is an explanation far less rabid than yours.

  8. Skipper has left the building. He just hasn't recognized the fact yet

  9. Here is what I do recognize: you are ineradicably antagonistic towards objective truth, and are a prolific liar.

    You accused me of racist statements which I never made, and still cannot figure out what a grant of cert is, or what the Republican Guard was doing during DS, among an almost endless parade.

    The shame is on you.

  10. And Gorka is gone:


  11. I was wrong about Gorka's staying power. He did not go willingly.

    Gorka makes a lousy Gaveston and an even worse Strafford. My next prediction is that the court chamberlain (Kelly) will soon enough be dismissed for having ousted the king's favorite.

    Query: was Gorka evicted for being a nazi or for not being a team player.