Goodbye, Monuments To Confederate Treason, Goodbye!
The city of Birmingham, Alabama, is more than 60 percent black. And for decades, all of the black people living there have had to live with statues meant to honor those who fought to keep them enslaved. Since 2017, when the state enacted a law "protecting" any and all statues and memorial buildings and memorial streets that had been around for forty or more years and barring any removal or alteration of them, it has been the actual law of the land that they have to live with them and, possibly, look at them every day. By law.
Hundreds of these statues and memorials, as we know, are all over the South (and even in some Northern states, oddly enough). But this week, during the protests over George Floyd's death, many of these statues have met their about-timely ends, with protesters pulling them down or otherwise vandalizing them — as they damn well should, because fuck those statues and fuck the Confederacy.
Though most of the tributes to the Confederacy were blasted with graffiti, a fire was set at the headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization that has helped erect several Confederate statutes. Nine fire trucks were on the scene Saturday night to extinguish the blaze, but the building was also covered in graffiti, reported the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Statues in Richmond of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Richmond were all graffiti-bombed.
Monuments were also targeted in Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.
"BLM" (Black Lives Matter) and "traitors" were spray-painted on the Confederate Defenders statues in Charleston, South Carolina.
Red handprints and the words "spiritual genocide" were marked on a Confederate monument Saturday on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, The Oxford Eagle reported. An unidentified white male was arrested at the scene, according to the newspaper.
You wanna talk violence? These statues are an act of violence. Their very existence contributes to an atmosphere where people are expected to just politely put up with systemic racism the same way they are expected to politely put up with racist cops who kill unarmed black people. When these participation trophy statue boosters keep trying to pretend that the only reason they want them there is so people will know about "history," that is them wanting to say that 2+2=5 and have everyone go along with them. Because that's the kind of power they want.
At Linn Park (named for Confederate sailor Charles Linn) in Birmingham, Alabama, when protesters attempted to tear down a 52-foot-tall obelisk honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin arrived on the scene and offered to take the statue down for them. Which is really for the best, in terms of the safety of everyone in the area. Not sure anyone needs to be murdered by a giant obelisk right now.
"Allow me to finish the job for you," he told protesters. And he kept his word.
Woodfin said he recognized that the state attorney general's office could bring a civil suit against the city for taking down the monument, but that the costs would be worth it."If there's a judgment rendered from the judge, then we should be held accountable," Woodfin said. "And I believe I am willing to accept that, because that is a lower cost than civil unrest in our city."
The city of Birmingham had previously tried to cover up the inscription on the base of the Confederate monument by building a black wooden box it, resulting in a lawsuit brought by the state attorney general. Alabama's Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the city's actions violated state law and hit the city with a $25,000 fine.
It's a lower cost than civil unrest, true, but also it sure will be nice for everyone who lives there to not have to look at a big ol' phallic monument to a guy who really loved slavery every day. Surely, there are better Alabamians that they could build parks and statues to honor.
Confederate statues are not the only ones being torn down. This weekend, in Louisville, the hand was torn off a statue of Louis XVI, which greatly upset his heir, Louis de Bourbon, Duc d'Anjou ... who also happens to be married to the granddaughter of dictator Francisco Franco. (Who, yes, is still dead, I know. I have a Dad.)
As the heir of #LouisXVI, and attached to the defense of his memory, I do hope that the damage will be repaired and… https://t.co/BLvigZMglZ— Louis de Bourbon, Duc d’Anjou (@Louis de Bourbon, Duc d’Anjou) 1590810715.0
The Duc d'Anjou decided that the really important thing going on here was that the city know that he would really appreciate it if the hand were restored. Not, you know, the actual protests. Clearly, as a former member of the not-very relevant French aristocracy once put it: Money can't buy you class (my friends).
But really, what is he gonna do? Deprive us of pears? He's probably not even in charge of the pears.
Louis XVI, you may recall, was the last king of France before the French Revolution. The one they guillotined along with his wife, Marie Antoinette, because of how they lived lives of excess while ignoring the suffering of all the starving French peasantry. Perhaps there are some lessons to be learned there.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse