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Started by DesEsseintes on Jun 7, 2020 3:27:19 PM
Colston has fallen
darkhorse - 07 Jun 2020 15:40:30 (#1 of 2025)

Ooh, that could have fallen on someone's foot.

I like the rush of attackers Saddam-statue style.

elderberry - 07 Jun 2020 15:42:01 (#2 of 2025)

I wonder will anyone pull down statues of John Mitchel in Ireland? I'd be tempted to join in.

Ginmonkey - 07 Jun 2020 15:47:36 (#3 of 2025)

I am slightly discomforted by this, as I suppose I am by all iconoclasm. We shouldn't destroy the past but engage with it, learn from it and recontexualise it.

We shouldn't celebrate people like Colston but nor should we erase them from public life or discourse. Our institutions, cities and lifestyles, like most of the world's, are forged in blood and built on the backs of others.

darkhorse - 07 Jun 2020 15:47:51 (#4 of 2025)

The victims of the Wills family tried to pull down his statue too, revenge against that other evil trade, but ended up coughing hacking and wheezing, so gave up and had a break.

nemo75 - 07 Jun 2020 15:49:21 (#5 of 2025)

Ah, there are other fun things that could have been done instead. Erecting a steel cage around him. Welding shackles to him. So on.

darkhorse - 07 Jun 2020 15:49:36 (#6 of 2025)

Well, never mind, these things happen now and again. All part of life's rich pageant. It's just a bloomin statue, not a sacred relic.

If you're burning down the city all the time (which they aren't) that's more of a problem.

DesEsseintes - 07 Jun 2020 15:50:33 (#7 of 2025)

It was a beautiful moment.

Snarlygog - 07 Jun 2020 15:52:42 (#8 of 2025)

There's a campaign to get John Hawkins Square renamed in Plymouth. The pub named after him has been changed.

Ginmonkey - 07 Jun 2020 15:53:09 (#9 of 2025)

Indeed so DH. I am not going to cry over a bit of fairly crappy Victorian civic art. I just find this sort of call to erase people from history slightly discomforting.

I think we should keep the names and the statues but confront the difficult questions and use the disinfectant of sunlight to expose of the comforting story we have told ourselves about empire and "great men" rather than pretending they do not exist.

nemo75 - 07 Jun 2020 15:55:49 (#10 of 2025)

I think we should keep the names and the statues but confront the difficult questions and use the disinfectant of sunlight to expose of the comforting story we have told ourselves about empire and "great men" rather than pretneding they do not exist.


AlanII - 07 Jun 2020 15:56:02 (#11 of 2025)

Yes, I totally agree. It's like censoring certain words from Hucklebery Finn. It's not righting history but, rewriting it.

returnofthepowermonkey - 07 Jun 2020 15:56:06 (#12 of 2025)

They could have put a traffic cone on his head. That'd larn him!

elderberry - 07 Jun 2020 15:59:29 (#13 of 2025)

Time moves on Gin. In Dublin we have O'Connell Street rather than Sackville Street. Dun Laoghaire and Cobh stand where we once had Kingstown and Queenstown. The statue of Queen Victoria that used to stand in Kildare Street is now in Australia.

Re-assessing what a society honours via public art and street and place names is a way of signalling how a society is now, as opposed to how it was then.

nemo75 - 07 Jun 2020 16:00:16 (#14 of 2025)

It depends if you think the history that shaped civilisation matters or not.

darkhorse - 07 Jun 2020 16:03:50 (#15 of 2025)

I think it's fine to bin the statues and rename the streets. Not because I'm a deranged fanatic, but because: why not?

It doesn't erase the history. We can read about slavery in history books and on TV documentaries, rather than in the names of pubs streets and statues honouring "worthy" benefactors from the past.

nemo75 - 07 Jun 2020 16:05:14 (#16 of 2025)

Yeah, that's true. Maybe ship him off to a cell in the meantime?

Ginmonkey - 07 Jun 2020 16:05:15 (#17 of 2025)

I get that elderberry and streets are renamed all the time but I remain uncomfortable about erasing history. It happened. We cannot change it only how we view it, understand it and interpret it.

In the case of Colston modern Bristol would not be what it is without his money. All of Bristol in some way benefits from how he made his money. Now I don't think he should be celebrated in civic accolades but his role in the city should still be acknowledged and we need to still understand why he was celebrated and seen as great. If we erase that we may forget.

elderberry - 07 Jun 2020 16:06:10 (#18 of 2025)

No, the facts of the history are there no matter what, removing a statue or changing a name does not change the fact that the statue once stood or the name was once used. It indicates a change in the current view of the people commemorated. And change, and reassessment of reputations, is pretty much what history is all about.

Ginmonkey - 07 Jun 2020 16:09:21 (#19 of 2025)

You see I differ there DH. Our streets and buildings ARE history and they do teach us.

Statues and street names are a living reminder of our past and what happened to get us here - good and bad. My view is we leave them and recontextualise it rather than erasing it. Of course 12 foot gilded statues of dictators may be fair game

I don't think we ahould rename everything from the past that offends. But then I remain sad that the City of London renamed Gropecunt Lane.

darkhorse - 07 Jun 2020 16:09:26 (#20 of 2025)

But surely Bristol isn't just Colston now. His money stopped coming in when? Ok, it left the buildings and streets, but Bristol is the sum of other economic and social factors since that time.

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