Toppling Statues (2)

Bless me friends, for I have sinned; it has been nearly a week since my last post. As you will have gathered, I’ve been poorly with a series of symptoms which seem to correspond to no virus known to mankind, giving me headaches, a sore throat, volcanic mouth ulcers and deep fatigue. Thankfully a week on nearly everything has passed apart from some lighter fatigue so I am able to enjoy my birthday.

Like everyone else I’ve also been thinking about BLM. I’ve been utterly dismayed by the number of people – either friends or friends-of-friends on Facebook – who have been questioning the need for BLM or even the very existence of racism. It’s very dispiriting and I did try for a while to argue but if people won’t listen or engage then the only answer is to send them into a deep snooze. If people are outright abusive then they’re unfriended but first I opt for the rather gentler ‘snooze’ option. Many a good snooze prevents a bad argument…

I have also ordered a copy of Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race. As to what we as a nation should do, I think the toppling of Colston’s statue was a necessary and iconic moment; a moment where people said ‘Enough. We will not tolerate this any more.’ Colston’s statue had been the subject of protest and debate for many decades and should not have been there – but whether other statues should remain is a matter for debate. And that’s where this should now go: not to knee-jerk removals of sitcoms or statues (though some maybe should go) but to debate. We need a rigorous examination of our national conscience and a thoroughgoing debate about our history: and those who say we are now ‘erasing’ or ‘editing’ it should contemplate the fact that for two hundred years slavery was also edited out of history and erased from our collective memory. There is no doubt that our history as a colonial power has been a racist one; yet far too many people would wish those times back again. Part of the delusion of Brexit was the idea that we could once more ‘go it alone’ and be a great power in the world; but the world has moved on, our time has come and gone and we are once more a small set of islands at the edge of Europe. Brexit Britain is like an aged opera diva in a darkened dressing room waiting for a cue that never comes. As for Churchill, whose statue was yesterday so nobly defended by a mob of drunken, urinating missile-lobbing thugs (see image below) it is true that Churchill was a great writer and orator and that his speeches during the dark days of 1940 were crucial. But he was undeniably a racist and a white supremacist and it’s not enough simply to shrug and say ‘those were different days.’ It’s high time we faced up to the poisonous legacy of colonialism and the way in which it still affects people today.

(Below: far-right demonstrators teaching us about how Churchill defended Britain from the Nazis)

Far-right thugs caught doing disturbing ‘Nazi salutes’ in ... image removed on request

But enough of this. Today is my birthday and fortunately I am well enough to be able to enjoy it. I had a seriously good haul of presents: some t-shirts, a box set of I Claudius and one of The Forsyte Saga (the original, not the horribly lame remake), the New Testament in Greek and a pot of sumptuous Neil’s Yard face cream. There’s a book on studying New Testament Greek to come. Later there will be Rioja with a selection of snacks, chips and dips while we watch one of the DVDs.

Now I must go and wash my hands while singing Happy Birthday to Me twice…

Kirk out