Archive for Aug, 2017

I can understand the sympathies of those who wished to remove the sculpture of General Lee from the Emancipation Park, but I can’t agree with them. The statue is a part of Virginian history, and although it represents a dark chapter in their past it should not be ignored. History is about honesty not morality. Perhaps a reorganization of the park would be more suitable, with other important historical figures that opposed General Lee included. General Lee was can be regarded as a radical figure in American history, an icon that contradicted the idea of national solidarity and was one of the most rebellious men that ever existed in America since its conception. I’ve always believed that America’s public history challenges the notion of true American nationalism, there are several controversial statues that outline this point; the Benjamin Tillman statue in South Carolina is a replica of man who was once famous for lynching black Americans, there is a sculpture in Alabama of Edmund Pettus, a renowned Senator and a Ku Klux Klan leader. These figures were both had significant roles in undermining progressive policies in post-civil war America. Why haven’t these statues caused controversy and uproar since they were erected? Could it possibly be that the General Lee statue became a beacon of resentment against Trump and his political culture? Perhaps this is a reminder that no matter how much we try to protect history it will always be politicised for one reason or another.

If the protests themselves were much more about the entrenched cultural and racial tensions that exists in America as opposed to the Sculpture itself (but of course they are linked). Then one must also state that no socio-political group came out of the protests with any glory; the White Supremacists demonstrated what a violent joke and a disgrace they are and the counter-protesters must also share some responsibility for the violence they conducted. If anything, the events in Virginia are revealing the flaws and the lack of credibility that so often comes with protesting radically  against the establishment. Large sections of the UniteTheRight rally refused to use the methods of nonviolent protest and instead came to the Charlottesville armed with intent to incite racial hatred. This rally was organised by Robert Spencer a man who allegedly coined the term “alt-right”.  The alt-right have had some legitimacy in the past for exposing the Neo-liberal agenda and its tools of injustice, but the perception of the Alt-Right as a racist movement now has some weight and thus as a group they have surely lost a lot of credibility.

The Counter-protester’s actions mirror those used by previous self-proclaimed left wing groups who have used  extremely aggressive methods to express their point. Although, they claim to be progressive, their political motives are cloudy; they claim to fight for the civil rights for each American citizen but they often trample over the values of free speech and liberty. I believe that this group often begin with the right intentions as many of their leaders often speak of creating a more democratic and fair America, but their behaviour and action often betray their words. So it seems that the radical wings of the political spectrum inhabit groups that use oppressive and coercive methods of political protest. Some may call this the death of politics, but perhaps we are need of a new rational and pragmatic force that does not abide by a political wing so strictly. Or perhaps this is the time when we must not have any restraint in our political ideology. I believe there are plenty of opportunities for political compromise but perhaps we must remember the roots of our political principles and that we must adhere to them with integrity.