每日英語跟讀 Ep.887: Not set in stone: Statues fall as the globe reexamines its past
From Confederate monuments in the United States to statues of British slave traders, memorials erected in honor of historical figures have become a focus of protests around the world. The death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck on May 25, has sparked a reexamination of rigid injustices and inequalities over the centuries underpinning many countries’ histories that often were exalted in stone or bronze.
The rapidly unfolding movement to pull down Confederate monuments around the US has extended to statues of slave traders, imperialists, conquerors and explorers around the world, including Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Belgium’s King Leopold II.
Scholars are divided over whether the campaign amounts to erasing history or updating it. Authorities in London and many other UK cities have announced plans to review all statues, street names and other monuments to see whether they reflect modern values and the country’s current diversity. This is sure to lead to fiery debate.
New Zealand’s fourth-largest city removed a bronze statue of the British naval officer Capt. John Hamilton, the city’s namesake, on June 12, a day after a Maori tribe asked for the statue be taken down and one Maori elder threatened to tear it down himself. The city of Hamilton said it was clear the statue of the man accused of killing indigenous Maori people in the 1860s would be vandalized. The city has no plans to change its name.
Across Belgium, statues of Leopold II have been defaced in half a dozen cities because of the king’s brutal rule over the Congo, where more than a century ago he forced multitudes into slavery to extract rubber, ivory and other resources for his own profit. Experts say he left as many as 10 million dead.
“The Germans would not get it into their head to erect statues of Hitler and cheer them,” said Mireille-Tsheusi Robert, an activist in Congo who wants Leopold statues removed from Belgian cities. “For us, Leopold has committed a genocide.”
In the US, the death of Floyd has led to an all-out effort to remove symbols of the Confederacy and slavery. On the night of June 10, protesters pulled down a century-old statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy.
In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it is time to remove statues of Confederate figures from the US Capitol and take their names off military bases such as Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and Fort Hood.
Supporters of Confederate monuments have argued that they are important reminders of history; opponents contend they glorify those who went to war against the US to preserve slavery.
The Davis monument and many others across the south were erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, when states imposed tough new segregation laws, and during the Lost Cause movement, in which historians and others sought to recast the south’s rebellion as a noble undertaking, fought to defend not slavery but states’ rights.
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/06/23/2003738669