Statues and History (Joe Cox 15/06/20)
There is a political divide over whether some of our historical statues should now be removed or not.
The history behind the statues being targeted for removal around the country is comprised of complicated sets of events. Problem with studying history is you have to have a good memory.
Within the year's trial of history that I did attempt we studied WW11 and the industrial revolution. Unless you kept your school books it is hardly likely most people remember the specific facts they were taught. There will no doubt be some that do. We are lucky to have the internet so even if books do get burnt you can find at least a couple of versions of history to read up on with any period.
I collect books; I have sections on journalism, poetry, electronics, cookery, politics, gardening and things like pseudo geography books mainly about Britain and the Countryside. Having just looked I found a section of 3 Robert Lacy English history books. C7150bc until 1953 AD. How do people read all that, I forget I even had them?
I was taken back that Baden Powell who was always recognized as a goody for getting youngsters to experience the outdoors, albeit all boys though, held such divisive thoughts. There is now one statue of Alfred Fagon a black actor that has had corrosive poured over it. We now have the war of the statues.
The problem with history is that unless you have a good handle on it the facts do get fuzzy; for instance I was always told that Spain gave us Gibraltar. Truth is that we captured it and then through a peace bargaining process (Utrecht) with Spain we got to keep it. Really it would not surprise me if there are couple of slavers statues dotted around Gibraltar as it was the gateway to the the N.African trade routes.
Although I am not of black origin I do wonder should I ever walk past one of those statues which has a dubious background, would I be feeling bitter that society keeps some of the bad guys on a plinth just so we can remember the bad old days.
There is a good solution already at hand, the historian Simon Schama's take on the subject. In a recent interview he reminded radio 4 listners that the Romans regularly melted down statues of their emperors to make coinage. I think statues should be time limited. Put them up to commemorate someone, take them down 100 years later when times have changed.