Statue-toppling, Rule over-turning, and History re-writing
As any American patriot would tell you, the United States is the land of the free, and has been so since 1776. Indeed, one of the greatest artistic works of liberty is William Walcutt’s 1857 depiction of the toppling of the statue of King George III in the American Revolution, symbolising the end of colonial rule. That very event sparked the revolution that began the American Nation, and what would eventually become the United States of America. “All men are created equal” is a widely quoted feature of one of the most important historical documents, one that established the freedom of peoples, well, at least some of those people. As much as it was so back then, the land of the free can only be called that by those who have that freedom, and right now, that is not many.
The founding fathers are heralded by many in the United States today, to such an extent that one may call them demigods. Yet, a sensitive point in historical discussion is the uncomfortable truth that those same founding fathers participated in the ‘evil plot’ that was the slave trade. So far, the 2020s have seen the toppling of many statues of these ‘demigods’ as their true history and questionable actions stain their memory. Many people think it is absurd that we hold these historical figures to modern-day standards, and think that these statue-topplers (others like to call them ‘woke’) are erasing our history. But as the book Fallen Idols rightly points out, history is not erased when statues are pulled down, it is made.
The fact that we are now questioning the people we celebrate and remember is a sign that the world is changing and becoming more equitable and more democratic…right?
In June of this year, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe Vs Wade - a significant court ruling from 1973 establishing abortions as a constitutional right – marking the end of the freedom of choice for women and girls across the nation – the same nation that was founded in a sense of liberty and equality. The over-turning took place barely two weeks before the celebration of that founding when US citizens get together to celebrate the founding fathers who freed them from the tyranny of the English Crown. Indeed, many women in the US refused to acknowledge the Independence Day holiday, perhaps due to the lack of independence (that’d do it).
It seems that the US reveres the founding fathers and the 18th century so much, that they want to return to it! With the lack of independence for women and the rapid succession of gunfire across the states, it certainly seems that way …
As I write this, I am inundated with headlines and news of shootings. Is this what the US was to become when the Declaration was read aloud? A declaration that signified the end of such tyranny in that part of the world?
Just days ago, a shooting occurred in Ohio in which four lives were claimed. But this isn’t a new occurrence in the US. Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement took up an international presence, eyes, minds and ears have been turned to the gunshots that can be heard around the world. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Pamela Turner and Rekia Boyd – want to know what all of these people have in common? They are all African American US citizens killed by Police Officers. The very people charged with maintaining law and order, and ensuring a peaceful and equitable society.
Regardless of your political beliefs, it appears the US has gone full circle. A nation that started with limited rights and freedoms for both women and girls, and African Americans, has not lost that terrible characteristic.
By the way, I hear you. I hail from an Island that once dominated and enslaved a quarter of the globe, and is by no means exempt from any of the accusations I direct towards our neighbours across the pond. I speak simply as the observer, a human – an advocate of liberty and freedom for the individual.
Edited and reviewed by Tanish Bagga.
References & Further Reading
Tunzelmann, V.A., 2022. Fallen idols: History is noterased when statues are pulleddown. it is made, London: Headline Publishing Group.