August 27, 2017

Recasting our stones: The trouble with removing public monuments

Rebel Staff

While significant media attention and public furor has focused recently upon various, seemingly unfashionable American public monuments, the trend is more broadly based, and has its own political parallels in Canada.

Canadians needn’t go back as far as 1963, when the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ) felt politically motivated to decapitate Queen Victoria’s statue, or question the suitability of General Wolfe’s column — by toppling it — in Quebec City.

Comparable political passions have asserted themselves far more recently than these, and are now part of a growing collection of similar theme.

In early 2016, pressure from activists citing colonialist insensitivity to indigenous peoples and a predominant “hetero-male historical narrative”, managed to keep Wilfrid Laurier University from permanently placing a statue of Prime Minister John A. MacDonald on its campus to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday.

In July of 2017, the Ryerson University student union expressed a desire to remove the statue of former Methodist circuit preacher and Ontario Education Superintendent, Egerton Ryerson, from campus, because he had been among the first to study and make recommendations regarding native residential schools.

Langevin Bridge in Calgary, earlier this year, appears to have been renamed for approximately the same reason.

This very month, a bid to remove a Montreal plaque dedicated to the memory of former President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, was also successful. The plaque was on private storefront owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company, but marked the spot of a property in which Davis had once lived in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

Perhaps predictably, this month has also witnessed renewed political pressure to remove a Halifax monument dedicated to Nova Scotia governor and founder of the city, Edward Cornwallis, who, in 1749, put out an infamous bounty on Mi’kmaq native scalps.

Yet, if we care to notice, real “infamy” doesn’t seem to be a common thread in these varied historical cases. Cornwallis was, indeed, a battle-hardened soldier, but Ryerson was more like an administrative theorist.

The uncomfortable political truth is that what unites all these cases is, quite arguably, the contemporary self-righteousness of the complainants.

The ironies are considerable. If moral perfection were the sole criterion by which public statues are dedicated, then only Jesus Christ would likely qualify for one. All media spin notwithstanding, today’s historical revisionism, revealingly, tends to be the ideological hobby-horse of the politically puritanical.

Today’s progressivist “puritans” may not be interested in putting scarlet letters on adulterers — that might be too self-incriminating in our context — but they are definitely interested in pointing out, painting over, or even obliterating the public personalities of their particular disfavour.

Curiously, Jesus was, himself, quite familiar with the issue of self-righteousness and public monuments. Indeed, he commented critically upon the “virtue-signalling” of his day when he noticed the Pharisees’ willingness to adorn monuments in the belief that, had they lived in the days of the martyred prophets to whom the monuments were dedicated, they would not have helped kill them.

Today’s proud delusion is only slightly different. We may not naively believe that had we lived in the days of the colonialists we would have been less “colonial”. Instead, we seemingly believe that, since progress has cleansed us of all pretensions of colonialism, it is now our bounden duty to remove such vestigial historical darkness from our glorious present. However, as one American professor I know recently asked, what’s the difference between melting a statue and burning a book?

Hidden from all our contemporary campus fervor is the reality that, for all our progressive public education (ironically, thanks to people like Ryerson), we have not escaped from becoming shameless moralizers.

In the name of “truth and reconciliation”, we publicly lament yesterday’s racist imperialism in Canada, even while our government of 2017 pledges $650 million to project, as foreign policy, its sexual politics on nations in Africa that, among other things, do not want our abortion “rights.”

While the old, nasty imperialism planted flags with crowns and crosses, the new is superior for making them rainbow-coloured? By all appearances, we are attempting to compel African nations to accept that our sexual culture is more empowering, “research-based”, and enlightened than theirs. The more things change…

Tellingly, there was a time when we might have just confessed our cultural sins and asked for God’s forgiveness. These days, however, Divine forgiveness is hardly necessary when, for the sake of the pogrom of progress, we can still project the new “superior” values with soft power, all while publicly obliterating our own colonial indiscretions.

Today, we grow increasingly comfortable with Orwellian revisionism as official public policy. We’d rather erase our collective sins than be reminded to confess them. Behold the new sanctimony!

Yet, to paraphrase Jesus, “Let those who are without sin, recast the first stone.”

Comments
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commented 2017-10-09 21:26:12 -0400
So, if Lefty’s erase our colonial history, does that mean they can’t throw it in our faces anymore?
commented 2017-10-01 08:11:41 -0400
The white man:

Came to North America about 250 years ago to avoid persecution and make a new life.

Went from wax candles to space travel in that time.

Africa, Middle East and Asia – were all living in schitte holes at that time.

Now they rely upon white man technology to advance.

Most still live in schitte holes today.

Most are serious racists and many are slavers.

All hate the white man but call upon his technology, aid, medicines and cash donations to keep them out of trouble.

The new white man ignores all this and destroys their own while watching those who come from schitte holes work hard to turn their new homes in North America and Europe in to the same schitte holes they left behind.

Those who come do their best to convert the white man into what they are while turning the west into a schitte hole.

Canadian voters now have an additional 32,000 people who will take rather than build.

When the original people came to North America they had no social services and taxes – they worked or starved. The free money came in the mid sixties and the down hill slide started.
commented 2017-08-29 08:46:35 -0400
Jamie MacMaster, lol!
commented 2017-08-29 07:14:44 -0400
Thanks for that, TAMMIE. I showed Ol’ Jerome the photo, and he headed right for the water pail.
commented 2017-08-29 02:12:40 -0400
Thanks, David, for all your concise and cogent writing. I think removing the written component of the Rebel is a mistake. It gives a more cerebral workout than video can provide.
commented 2017-08-28 23:52:36 -0400
David. Thank-you, and God Bless.
commented 2017-08-28 22:20:25 -0400
David, thank you for all your contributions to the Rebel. I’m sorry to hear this was your last commentary. I wish you every success with future endeavours.
Peace be with you.
commented 2017-08-28 17:49:52 -0400
Thank you, everyone, for your comments and contributions. One is always encouraged by one’s friends and sharpened by one’s critics. This will be my last column for Rebel Media, as they will be focussing more on video, and less on print, editorial commentary in the months and years ahead. I leave you all with gratitude, and hope to engage the broader public from a socially conservative Christian context through other means, as God grants me grace. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and through this public ministry page, “The Evangelical Office of the Public Square” (www.eops.ca).
commented 2017-08-28 12:33:30 -0400
“I think the Pierre Trudeau statue should come down. Everytime I see it I’m triggered into depression. "

Geez, JAMES SCOTT. There’s a statue of turdo la 1st? Where?
I mean, my old Greater Glengarry Moose Hound, Jerome, is just dyin’ to hoist a leg in salute.
commented 2017-08-27 23:34:50 -0400
KEITH BARNES commented 4 hours ago
Remove the Icons of a Country’s history and that Country will end up with no identity. Trudeau and his gang of Traitors are planning for our new future. The removal of Trudeau and his gang of Traitors is a better option.

Right, you are, Keith.
This is a plan a long time in the making. The SJWs want us to have no identity so that they can fill that vacuum for us. To be effective we must have no clue about our history and instead we substitute Social Studies since it relies much more heavily on emotion. If they can obliterate all indicators of our past we are more easily reprogrammed.

I much prefer Oliver Cromwell’s comment to his portrait painter who tried to “pretty him up”: “Paint me warts and all”.

In this the MSM is also culpable since they want to remove any alternate news source and deliver our news pre-digested. Yes, The Rebel has screwed up big time recently but I’ll take what it has to offer over the willful blindness and complicity of the Lugenpresse.

David Horowitz in his video, “WHAT THE LEFT BELIEVES” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBucK8YQf08 ) points out that the SJWs want to bring in the perfection of the Kingdom of God. But what they also want is to bring in their view of the Kingdom since the have already achieved divinity by the ministrations of Saul Alinsky and his legions. As always in Leftist thinking, the rest of us are unbelievers who must be dealt with however harshly since we are preventing this Kingdom of moral perfection from arriving. We are roadblocks.

Hence the unbroken misery and deaths of hundreds of millions of people under the tender mercies of socialist movements world-wide wherever they take power.
commented 2017-08-27 23:08:06 -0400
I think the Pierre Trudeau statue should come down. Everytime I see it I’m triggered into depression.
commented 2017-08-27 22:14:52 -0400
DAVID MACKENZIE
Great post , great last line

LEE HORSEMAN , I’m not worried about the CRIMEMINISTER getting ideas
There’s a ton more leftards in the area now , then in Pee HEIRs day
I’m expecting to see an attempt , trust me , it wouldn’t last
commented 2017-08-27 22:05:12 -0400
I concur:
“The removal of Trudeau and his gang of Traitors is a better option.”
commented 2017-08-27 21:58:33 -0400
Erase history that they do not like, they already ignore the history of communism.
commented 2017-08-27 20:50:46 -0400
Not sure what they’re doing with all the metal from these melted down plaques and statues but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of it gets cast into new statues. I can just see a giant bronze fist with the middle finger pointing at the sky, sitting on a granite pedestal beside the CPR tracks in Salmon Arm.
Yea, yea. I know. Don’t give Junior any ideas…
commented 2017-08-27 19:30:51 -0400
Remove the Icons of a Country’s history and that Country will end up with no identity. Trudeau and his gang of Traitors are planning for our new future. The removal of Trudeau and his gang of Traitors is a better option.
commented 2017-08-27 19:30:50 -0400
Remove the Icons of a Country’s history and that Country will end up with no identity. Trudeau and his gang of Traitors are planning for our new future. The removal of Trudeau and his gang of Traitors is a better option.
commented 2017-08-27 19:25:47 -0400
David Mackenzie, excellent commentary.
I’m saddened by those who are calling for the destruction and removal of history. It is short sighted and wrong.
commented 2017-08-27 17:38:59 -0400
We must not forget Louis Riel, a leader who executed a protestant. Shouldn’t his statue come down for essentially murdering someone?

How about all those who died because of him?

How many times did he run away to the US to hide from justice?

About the plaque in Montreal, it all started because ONE McGill student made a big deal about it and how it bothered him so much to “have to see it” on his way to classes. Most people never even noticed it existed. It was high up, and the only reason I ever saw it was because I was waiting for someone, was bored, and checking out whatever was around.

If he was so upset about the plaque – which most Montrealers didn’t know about and didn’t care about, he could have chosen a different route to class, averted his eyes, or sucked it up like a big boy. But, alas, we have the constantly offended class always telling the rest of us what to think and what we can see. Having seen him interviewed, I wonder if he was even Canadian.

Just up the street from the Jefferson Davis (who was an outspoken opponent to slavery) plaque is a statute of Queen Victoria in front of the music faculty. Is it next? Or on campus the monument were the remains of James McGill rests in front of the Arts Building? How about the relatively new statue of James McGill himself?

Then there is the McConnell Engineering Building, named for the person who funded the building – a reputed extreme anti-Semite? Should that, too, be removed or renamed?

And what about Loyola College (now part of Concordia University), founded by the Jesuits, who owned slaves back then in Quebec? Burn it down?

Anyone can find fault with anything and anyone from two hundred years ago, But why stop there? Surely everyone is doing something that ticks off some social justice warrior somewhere.

Its all too ridiculous.