There was a remarkable piece on the BBC London news on TV last night (I see that it is also on the website).
They had a chap on who was basically arguing that because he didn’t like certain historical figures, their statues should be ripped down and replaced by others voted for by “the people” or some pieces of sculpture or something. He stood in front of a statue of William Gladstone and said something about what a lot of harm he and his contemporaries had done.
Fortunately there was also a very sensible woman who argued that the statues represent our history; without knowledge of our past, how can we make judgements about the future? (fantastic – great argument for the study of history, too).
Frankly, the guy who didn’t want the statues came over as a bit of a crackpot, with a very thin argument indeed. I think it is madness to say that just because you don’t, with hindsight, agree with the policies of certain individuals in British history, you should tear down their images. Of course there is a case to be made here… and we tread into discussions about various dictators of the relatively recent past… but I think to suggest that the statues in London should be replaced is remarkable. Who makes the judgement about which individuals we no longer celebrate or want to remember? Thin end, long wedge.
I’m somewhat gratified to see that people who are responding to the BBC article are in line with my way of thinking…