Guest post by Steve-O-in-NJ
Steve’s post below discusses the issues posed by this news [from the Smithsonian]:
…In Charlottesville, Virginia, lawmakers decided to transform one torn-down monument entirely, reports Teo Armus for the Washington Post. Instead of storing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, officials will melt down the 1,100-pound bronze monument into metal ingots—raw material that can then be used to create new art.
City council members approved the proposal unanimously on Tuesday morning, reports Ginny Bixby for the Charlottesville Daily Progress. Put forth by the local Jefferson School African American Heritage Center (JSAAHC), the plan was one of six considered by lawmakers during months of deliberation.
According to JSAAHC’s proposal, organizers plan to hold community listening sessions in barbershops, places of worship, schools and other businesses throughout Charlottesville. With community input, the “Swords Into Plowshares” team hopes to select an artist or artists to design a new public artwork by 2024.
The museum has already raised more than half of the $1.1 million required to bring its project to fruition and is continuing to fundraise online. Proceeds will be used to donate the transformed statue back to the city, where it will go on display by 2026.
JSAAHC executive director Andrea Douglas tells the Post that the project “will allow Charlottesville to contend with its racist past.”
Something is dead wrong about a museum, which is by nature dedicated to the preservation of the past, even out of the general public view, instead participating in the destruction and rewriting of the past.
You know where they did things like that? The USSR, where art was harnessed to be a propaganda organ of the state, and every museum, gallery, orchestra and dance company was dedicated first to pushing forward the State’s narrative before anything else, and anything that didn’t do that was pushed into the background or destroyed. The world is damn lucky that Russia was able to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Savior that was blown up (!) to make way for a “Palace of the Soviets” that never materialized due to WWII. The world is also damn lucky that the Soviets were nothing if not practical, and repurposed most other buildings (including churches and synagogues) rather than destroying them outright, and still didn’t quite dare to destroy things like the tomb of St. Alexander Peresviet (maybe useful as a nationalist hero) or the relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov (though they hid them away for a time). Otherwise, the physical link to all that history would be lost.
Know where else they did things like that? Reformation England under the bigoted rule of Henry VIII and later Cromwell. You can still go to Canterbury Cathedral, but you can’t see the jeweled shrine of St. Thomas Becket. In fact I think the only one of those shrines that didn’t get trashed was the one of St. Edward the Confessor, which no one was brave (or hateful) enough to destroy, and still rests in Westminster Abbey. Know where they’re doing things like that now? Afghanistan under the Taliban, and up until recently the parts of Iraq that were controlled by ISIS.
This won’t be the first, you mark my words. I really don’t like the idea of every city now raising honors to George Floyd as almost all of them did to MLK, who was on a much higher lever. I’m also going to be very disgusted if statues of Columbus, some raised by Italian-American communities by public subscription and donation as a thank-you to the communities where they got their start, begin to be melted down and reforged into either apologetic native statues or statues from the new pantheon of martyrs. Continue reading