Hello My Imaginary Friends,
There has been a lot of talk about taking down monuments and changing names. Mostly this is due to things the people have done that are horrifying.
Removing the name or monuments to these people has been likened to sanitizing our history or hiding the horrors of our past.
The whole debate is complicated by the fact that most of these people have also done good things. So do we let one mistake destroy the legacy of a great historical figure?
History is a very human practice. It’s not a science and relies on what people wrote down and what they chose to leave out. Walt Disney smoked like a chimney but you’d never know from his pictures at the parks or the official videos. It’s possible that future generations will never know.
To get an idea how much we can confuse and conflate history have a look at this video.
Columbus was a genocidal idiot, yet I bet most people didn’t know that.
History is messy and the moment you start worshiping someone you start ignoring the bad they did. Very few historical figures are perfect and it’s important to remember. If we ignore the bad that historical figures did, we risk repeating it.
We also have to not go too far the other way and forget the good that they have done (not Columbus, he’s horrible). It’s a common practice now to demonize people for things they’ve done or said in their past. It’s important to balance out what people did with how they tried to make amends and how they grew. Just because someone was a dick doesn’t mean they didn’t change.
Having a statue in a public space, having your name on a street or building is an honour. If the historical figure has done something horrible (Genocide, mass murder, slavery, etc) move their statue to a museum with the proper, balanced, historical information. Or take their name off and replace it with something more innocent or someone more worthy. Leave a plaque explaining the old name and why it was changed.