The decision to tear down the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond builds on a decade or more of activists seeking to purge the racist monuments at the core of American historical memory. People are increasingly taking action in their own hands. Richmond activists took down a statue of a largely forgotten Confederate general named William Carter Wickham the other night. Great. What’s really interesting though is how the BLM movement has started to spread around the world. It’s clear that it is partly a protest against the terrible racist treatment of black people in this terrible racist country. But it’s equally clear that other nations have their own serious racial problems with the rise of immigration after centuries of colonialism and that activists around the world are inspired by American activists. From England:
Footage on social media shows demonstrators tearing the figure of Edward Colston from its plinth during protests in the city centre. In a later video, protesters are seen dumping it into the Avon at Bristol Harbour.
The demonstrations came in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May.
Home secretary Priti Patel said the toppling of the statue was “utterly disgraceful”, ”completely unacceptable” and “sheer vandalism”.
This led to the political scientist Paul Musgrave winning the internet yesterday with this thread:
Protesters Say Statue Tripped, Fell Into Water
— Paul Musgrave🍕 (@profmusgrave) June 7, 2020
It goes on from there.
And then out of Brussels:
A crowd has climbed onto the statue of colonial King Léopold II in #Brussels chanting “murderer” and waving the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo where his atrocities took place. #DRC 🇨🇩 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/DIH9MGu39M
— Jack Parrock (@jackeparrock) June 7, 2020
This one blows my mind. The horrors of Belgian colonialism are well known. But King Leopold is also the most famous Belgian leader in history. By far. Moreover, Belgium is a home of anti-immigrant extremism and no shortage of those immigrants are from The Congo. This is a fascinating moment and it is wonderful to see. I hope this movement continues.
As for the U.S., after we get rid of the treason statutes, there’s all the genocidal maniacs, from Columbus to Custer. We have a lot of work to do.