Flat White

Do the mob toppling statues expect their own monuments?

25 June 2020

5:54 PM

25 June 2020

5:54 PM

It is only a matter of time before someone pulls down a statue of Mother Teresa because she was silent on transgender rights.

Admittedly, the Catholic Saint did some good work amongst the poor of Calcutta, but did she ever use her international profile to campaign for gender-neutral bathrooms? No. And so her statue must go.

And statues of Florence Nightingale will likely be demolished because she failed to speak out about the climate emergency.

Little matter that the founder of modern nursing lived and died before the effects of the industrial revolution were known. Her silence was violence.

How dare she, to borrow a line from Saint Greta, waste time fussing over hospital sanitation when the planet itself was soon to be on fire. 

And while we are Talibaning, monuments to William Shakespeare must be toppled.

It is of no interest to us that the famed English playwright lived long before Captain Cook ever set foot on Botany Bay. If white people living after James Cook are to be held liable for every ill of colonisation, why not white people living before James Cook?


Just as we must look back and divorce ourselves form the sins of our ancestors, Shakespeare should have looked forward and disavowed the behaviour of his descendants. But he did not. So he must go.

It is a glorious thing to be able to sit atop history and judge all who have gone before.

Of course, it requires a certain amount faith to believe that we are the pinnacle of humanity and therefore fit to be judge and jury and executioner. But it isn’t that hard to do if you insist that the history of humanity is inevitably one of progress toward a kind of heaven on earth.

And here we stand.

It is in the very nature of Progressives to engage in a sort of chronological snobbery, judging against the past for no reason than because it is the past.

We are the Woke. We see clearly where others were blind. We have no time for humility and no need for self-examination. The only truth is “my truth”. And the only banner we will march under is “Pride”.

We have arrived. And so we stand outside of history; the perfect platform from which to view everything objectively.

It never occurs to us, as we search out and find the needle of imperfection in the haystack of other people’s accomplishments, that one day we too may be judged by unforgiving narcissists.

We wouldn’t dare post an image of ourselves without first applying the right filter. But the past is afforded no such filter. The past will be judged in the harsh light of present sensibilities.

In doing so, we have found a way to feel good without having to be good. Much easier to denounce Churchill than to be Churchill. Much cheaper to pull things down than to do things worth memorialising.

We are the art critic who never produced a painting and the movie critic who never directed a film. Our opinion is our achievement. Our posturing is our legacy.

The next generation will not pull down our statues for there will have been no reason to erect any.

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