I don't know what to think about this. Obviously a lot of statues commemorate horrible people, and those statues should not be there1: no-one needs statues of people whose importance is that they got rich from the slave trade. The people defending such statues are either racists, stupid, or both2.
But what about Churchill? Clearly he had some views which are repugnant. But so did almost everyone: I was alive in the 1970s and even then many, many people had really repugnant views (probably including me, if I had thought about it rather than about the things teenagers think about). And, like it or not, I'm only able to write this because of Churchill: he played a critical part in the defeat of people who had views which were a lot more repugnant – a lot more repugnant – than his. Shouldn't we remember him for that?
If we're going to try and erase everyone who had repugnant views from history, we are going to erase most of history, because almost everyone had such views (what did Alan Turing think of BAME people? do we know?). And rewriting history to downplay or remove people and events which are inconvenient is what totalitarian states do: it's what Donald Trump and his idiot enablers are trying to do. That's a very dangerous slope to start down (it's a slope the US is already half way down, and probably are not coming back from).
Well, I don't have an answer: I'm not even going to pretend I do. And what would an 'answer' from a middle-aged white person count for anyway? I do think that it's complicated, and I do think it would be wrong to remove statues of Churchill, much though it pains me to agree with anything Boris 'watermelon smiles' Johnson says3. But I don't know.
Priti Patel, I'm looking at you. ↩
Although I think they should not be destroyed, in general. ↩
However if we're going to be removing people from history because of their repugnant views, let's erase Boris Johnson: jokes about 'picanninies' with 'watermelon smiles' might have been just the jokes everyone made a decade before he was born, and therefore the jokes someone who isn't very good at thinking might have made. And Johnson is certainly not terribly good at thinking: that's what other people are for. But to have made jokes like that recently, even for someone as essentially stupid as Johnson, tells you what he is: a casual racist, like so many of his class. ↩