“Property is Speech”

“For many of us, the wake-up call about the untrustworthiness of the soft centrism espoused by the managerial elite which dominates public discourse was its response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. No sooner had leading politicians locked arms in Paris and proclaimed “Nous sommes Charlie”, than they were adding a caveat. “We unequivocally support free speech unless it undermines community cohesion.” In other words, they did not understand that the principle of free speech means supporting not just the speech with which you agree but also – in fact, especially – speech you consider erroneous or distasteful.

“I was reminded by this when a mob in my home city toppled a statue of Edward Colston MP, merchant, city benefactor and slave trader. What struck me was not the righteous fury of the mob in Bristol or the shallow posturing. What struck me was the response of putative moderates. Rather than rejecting the mob violence, they proclaimed that maybe after all it was time to show society had moved on. By granting that, society also seems to have “moved on” from the principles of violent protest being wrong, destruction of art being undesirable and wrecking of public property being a net negative.

“There is something childish or primitive about destroying symbols of ideologies that are now impotent…”

Read the rest of the article on The Critic here: https://thecritic.co.uk/property-is-speech/

“Towards Britain’s Year Zero”

When a mob toppled a statue of merchant and slave trader Edward Colston in central Bristol on Sunday, the scenes were reminiscent of the collapse of a tyrannical regime. The mob stamped the fallen statue with rage and delight. Yet the mob was composed of individuals who had experienced no struggle or strife, and live in one of the safest, most prosperous nations in history.

“Most of the crowd were white, middle-class university students who have never done anything to oppose actual slavery. Not one of those warriors against slavery will offer a word of criticism regarding the (internally disputed) Islamic practice of slavery, which persists in some parts of Africa to this day. Toppling a statue is a summer carnival; researching and criticising a world religion is a little less of a rush. For most people today, virtue is not embodied through persistent and difficult private acts. Rather, it is demonstrated through momentary public performance and posted on Instagram.

“Far from fighting the power, the mob was acting in accordance with guidance it has received from schools, universities and mainstream media. Bristol council and the mayor did not decry destruction of public property, but applauded it….

 

To read the full article visit Spiked: https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/06/11/towards-britains-year-zero/

The war on America’s past continues

In the wake of recent attempts – some successful – to have Confederate statues removed from the US south, what is the future of colonialist statues in the US west? In Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory, Cynthia Culver Prescott, a professor of history at the University of North Dakota, senses a reluctance to apply to pioneer monuments the ideological zeal that was turned on Confederate memorials. ‘We resist applying the insights of settler colonial studies to American pioneer narratives because to do so would call into question foundational myths of Jeffersonian agrarianism and American exceptionalism, and lay bare white conquest of native lands and peoples.’ She outlines the cases against statues of colonialists, and particularly against female settlers, who took part in the drive to colonise the American west in the 19th century.

“Statues depicting women have been criticised by academics and campaigners for being idealising, inaccurate, generalising and stereotypical. There is a sense that campaigners direct such ire at statues of women settlers not just because they embody sexism and colonialism but because they show women as complicit in the act of dispossessing native peoples. There is a residual resentment that – in intersectional terms – a political minority took part in a project to oppress another minority….”

Read my article on Spiked here: https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/07/29/the-war-on-americas-past-continues/