Tearing down statues. What next?
The calls have gone out for certain statues here in Aotearoa to be taken down, and already the first of them (Captain Hamilton in the Hamilton Civic Square) has been removed and I’m guessing that there will be some pretty animated discussions around the country this weekend.
Some, who saw these statues as a glorification of a barbarian hero who was, among other things, a murderous a-hole, will be delighted, and others, who see it as just playing out the victim narrative of the “woke left” will be disappointed.
Personally, I’m not really that interested either way as in my experience it will become just a screaming match between the “alt-left” and the “far-right” with both sides displaying similar amounts of arrogance, ignorance and stupidity, while the rest of us (the vast majority who live in the middle) just go about our lives.
But I am very interested in where we go from here. Because maybe this statue should be taken down, if he was indeed a murderer then I agree it makes no sense to revere him, and maybe other statues should be taken down as well, but the glaringly obvious question is “Who gets to make the call?”
For surely that is the real question.
Who gets to say which statues should be torn down?
And after we have torn down the statues, then what?
Do we start to burn books?
History shows us, with chilling clarity, what happens when the left’s - good intentions, and the right’s - good ideas, are allowed to run unchecked and unfettered. The tearing down of statues and burning of books often ends with the tearing down and burning of people. It pays to remember that neither the left nor right have a monopoly on stupidity or cruelty!
So while all the noise will come from the fringes, with both sides claiming to occupy the moral high ground, I hope we listen to those often quieter but vastly more numerous voices from the centre of New Zealand, that are driven not by spite or hate, but by good old fashioned practical fairness and common-sense.
As Chesterton once wrote, “The majority of the people are never quite right, but they are also never quite wrong!”