In the wake of the George Floyd protests, which have taken place not just in the U.S. but in the U.K. and elsewhere across the world, one issue that’s been brought to light is the controversy over statues honoring people with problematic pasts. In the U.S., that’s mostly been statues of Confederate generals. Indeed, many have been either forcibly taken down by protesters or have been ordered removed by local authorities.
In the U.K., protesters have already torn down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and thrown it into Bristol harbor, and they reportedly have designs on taking down statues of Mahatma Gandhi across the country, too. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Gandhi had said some problematic things about blacks in South Africa decades before he led the Indian independence movement.
Churchill may be next.
Already, someone has spray-painted with words “was a racist” under Churchill’s name on the statue. His granddaughter, Emma Soames, is concerned that more vandalism may bedevil the statue of her grandfather, which has since been covered until further notice.
She acknowledged that Churchill, who she admitted was a “complex man,” had views that “particularly now are regarded as unacceptable but weren’t necessarily then.”
As CNN reported, Churchill was unambiguously racist. He wrote that he hated people with “slit eyes and pig tails.” He called Indians “the beastliest people in the world next to the Germans.” As for blacks, he “did not really think that black people were as capable or as efficient as white people.”
However, Soames also noted that her grandfather’s views were emblematic of his time.
“We’ve come to this place where history is viewed only entirely through the prism of the present,” she told BBC Radio.
She said that the statue may be “safer” in a museum. However, she also said that Parliament Square “would be a poorer place without him.”
There may yet be precedent for taking a statue of a problematic historical figure and moving it from a public space and into a museum. In Bristol, where the statue of Colston was thrown into the sea, local officials dredged it up with a view towards cleaning it up and then placing it in a museum, according to a BBC News report.