Exactly. America, and especially the South, has been trying to gaslight black Americans (and others) for centuries. Trying to undo this bullshit is the opposite of Orwellian.
Removing statues and renaming buildings is not attempting to alter history.
Where this all gets dicey, and is a line that is getting tested more often, and where we are going next, is when you say that [horrible thing A or horrible word B] cannot be portrayed or spoken in any context for any purpose.
Velocity, I see some very sensible and thoughtful replies to your query in this thread. May I ask if you see things any differently after reading them?
Do you have an example of this? Because what I see is people disapproving of hero worship of men who fought for a repugnant ideology like the Confederacy’s. That doesn’t sound like a ban on portraying or speaking of the Confederacy in any context.
As I can’t see the advantage to Germany, especially its Jewish population, to having statues commemorating the achievements of Goebbels, Hitler, and Mengele, I do not see the advantage to America, especially its African-American population, to having statues commemorating the achievements of Lee, Jackson, and Davis.
If everyone is so keen on preservation of history then why not keep the defaced statues exactly where they are. Don’t change a thing.
Future generations can look at the damaged wrecks and appreciate the stories behind their propaganda filled erections and the public’s eventual mob fueled rejection of racist “lost cause” revisionism.
Toppling, damaging, and defacing these eyesores removes a lot of their propaganda value and makes me want to do something to preserve this rare moment in history.
Yes. 1984, in part, is about the use of propaganda to influence thought.
These statues ARE propaganda used to influence thought. They were erected with the express purpose of reinforcing racist attitudes of the time. To remind everyone of the “superiority of the white race” by honoring the people who fought to preserve that concept.
Oh god, this place.
This is the type of thing I’m referring to. I’m not hung up on the whites-using-the-n-word aspect, and that particular aspect of it is a distraction from the main potential issue, which is knee-jerk “cleansing” (pre- or post-publication).
I just want to point out that this article is batshit crazy. They’re literally changing the name of an award because characters in a book set on the frontier in the early 1870s, were racist against Native Americans. So what if it was autobiographical? It accurately tells the tale as it probably was, not some whitewashed PC version of reality.
At least from the article, I don’t get the impression that there’s any specific animus toward Native Americans on Wilder’s part, beyond the way people in that particular place and time were.
Would we castigate a writer writing about his childhood in the 1970s or 1980s if he had fourteen year old boys describing things they didn’t like as “gay”? It definitely wasn’t PC, but it also is how things were, and doesn’t necessarily indicate anything about the writer or his current attitudes.
Are we going to lose our shit (again) about Mark Twain and “Huckleberry Finn” because they use the n-word multiple times? By pretty much all accounts, Twain wasn’t
Both actual books and the hypotheticals are either products of their time, or meant to accurately portray characters at a specific point and time in history. And racist or non-PC attitudes are part of that history, and shouldn’t be edited in the present to reflect how we feel today, and nor should writers be pre-emptively warned not to write about unsavory stuff in the past either.
If nothing else, something like the terms used in “Huckleberry Finn” or the attitudes in “Little House in the Big Woods” ought to be a bit shocking, as we’ve hopefully moved past that, but they shouldn’t be censored just because those of us today are offended by the idea that someone was racist in the past.
There was an attempt to do this with the Berlin Wall, but it got old pretty fast. Now there are just a few representative samples left. The bottom line is that the number one purpose of a city (unlike a museum) is to provide a place for people to live their lives. I’m as conscientious about remembering the past as the next guy, but I don’t decorate my living room with reminders of the ugly parts.
On the one hand, I agree with much of what you posted.
On the other hand, I get that embedded and unquestioned racism/sexism/etc in art teaches these things to those who consume that art. When we’re talking about books and culture for children, it seems doubly important to consider that.
Also, a reminder that those books were not “edited” or “censored” as you seem concerned about. A library non-profit renamed an award for children’s literature. The fact that this seemingly insignificant decision gets people all hot and bothered about censorship and the evils of “political correctness” speaks to the fact that they obviously don’t know what the word censorship means.
As to method, it’s much more significant and powerful when the government of a jurisdiction decides to take down a statue than when a mob does it.
I have no idea how the article you quoted has anything to do with this discussion.
Here is a summary of our conversation:
Me: Taking down statues is not rewriting history. What concerns me is sanitizing the discussion of history.
You: Do you have an example of that? All I see is guys taking down statues of bad men.
Me: Yes I do have an example, here, read it.
You: I have no idea how that relates to the conversation.
Somehow you forgot to repeat that all you see is people taking down statues of bad men.
So I will repeat, Oh god, this place.
If your point is, we should be allowed to discuss the hateful racist vile parts of our history, like the N word or the entire Cofederate States of America, then i agree 100%. But this thread is about changing names and removing statues – naming a school or foundation after someone is a means of honoring them, and putting up their statue is DEFINITELY honoring them.
If you asked whether we should strike the name Robert E Lee from our history books, I would say absolutely not. But that’s not what we are talking about – or it wasn’t, until you shifted the goal posts a few posts ago.
In addition, Laura was an unusual anti-racist person for her era. Not only did she once go on stage in front of a town hall get-together to defend Native Americans, but she also once claimed that if she were one (a Native American, that is,) that she’d have fought just like any of them against the white intruders.
That she was less racist than most of the time doesn’t mean that she wasn’t racist.
We have new and different, and optimistically better values than we had when she was writing.
Her work is not being censored, she is not being harmed.
There are dozens of awards for kid’s books. Most of the people upset about the change had probably never heard of the award before.
If you look at the website where they they talk about the award, it specifically says that from 1954 to 2018, it was called the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.
There is no hiding, no whitewashing, no altering of history.
They just changed the name of an award.
You got to be honest. Keeping a massive wall running through your unified city is completely untenable. A representative section or two serves the same function without being insanely intrusive to citizens.
These cities had years/decades of tolerance for these monuments as “lost cause” propaganda. They should have a few more years serving as defaced/disgraced monuments to public rejection of that propaganda
…but hey. That’s my “all’s fair” ironic twist to the neo-confederates who wanted them to stay put forever. Let them worship their (twice) fallen Gods. (Hell, I’d even show up to these defaced monuments myself).
The Confederacy were literally traitors that were killing Americans in order to protect the institution slavery. They weren’t good Americans, and they certainly weren’t good people. Sure some ignorant soldiers were probably good, just swept up in forces beyond their control. But the assholes who get statues? No, they knew exactly what they were doing.
There isn’t a lot of complex nuance to the idea that they don’t deserve statues venerating them. Especially when a lot of the statues specifically were erected as a, “know your place” message to black people.
Removing their statues isn’t re-writing history, it’s admitting that it was a bad idea to put them up in the first place.