In our current uprising around the world, people are tearing down monuments to racism, bigotry, white supremacy, and slavery. They should all be torn down - including those of Washington and Jefferson in the United States.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are 1,747 monuments, place names and other symbols honoring Confederate soldiers in the United States.
They are dispersed across 31 different states, a far cry from the 11 states that fought with the Confederacy. These monuments idolize white men who not only bought, sold and traded enslaved Africans, but also fought to the death for the right to keep them enslaved, often forcing them to enlist and fight against their own freedom.
For decades, cities have been adamant that the statues and memorials remain standing. They claim that the statues don’t represent a traumatic and violent time in American history, but instead represent Southern pride. Apparently the South is proud of its history of working people to their death.
People are fed up. While protests against police brutality continue to surge, some groups have taken to defacing or tearing down their city’s Confederate statues completely, and not just in America. Across the world, people are coming to terms with the deeply rooted racism that exists in their countries.
In Antwerp, Belgium, a statue of Leopold II, a colonial king who slaughtered at least 15 million Africans in the Congo, was set on fire and taken down. In Bristol, England, protestors tore down the statue of Edward Colston, a merchant who made his wealth as Deputy Governor of a notorious slave trading company. In Richmond, Virginia, protestors took down the statue of Confederate war General Williams Carter Wickham.
The argument those in favor of keeping these monuments to slavery make is that these men were not evil, but simply products of their time. Enslaving humans was normal, so they cannot be called immoral for participating in widespread practice.
If normalization is all it takes to make something moral, the Holocaust never would have ended. Jewish people being rounded up and made to live and die in concentration camps was purposefully normalized by Hitler, the Nazis and every German citizen who sat and watched it happen.
Normalization is the tool that aids genocides and it is a powerful one. It must be fought against from every possible angle, including the removal of all monuments glorifying the evil men and women who contributed to a past of racism, brutality and human enslavement.