by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:
Across the country, statues are coming down. Many of these removals started with statues of confederate soldiers and controversial figures but it has since morphed into the removal of statues of the country’s presidents. After watching the statues getting toppled across the country, corporate brands from around the world began virtue signaling by jumping to erase their products with controversial histories. Hell, even the band formally known as “The Dixie Chicks” changed their name to “The Chicks” to signal to the world that they do not support slavery — because we all thought the did, right?
It has been a veritable kumbaya moment of coming together to end racism — but that is not exactly what’s happening is it?
Instead of bringing systemic racism to an end through the removal of statues and the changing of brands, these moves made people more defensive — up to and including the commander in chief, Donald Trump — who called for throwing people in jail for ten years if they destroy another statue. The blowhard president even advocated for the kidnapping and caging of people for their free speech over the constitutionally protected act of burning a flag.
A promise of state violence was likely not the intended desire many folks had when they took to removing shrines to racist tyrants. Unfortunately, however, that’s all we’ve seen.
Tearing down statues has led to the opposite of its intended effect. Many on the right have gone on the defensive and even the president wants to use violence against those who challenge his threats. This should come as no surprise, however, as violence is the language of the state.
As John Lennon famously stated, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you.”
Watching people wage violence against their fellow human in the name of protecting or tearing down some arbitrary government artifact is as disheartening as it is frustrating. The future cannot be changed by attempting to erase the past as those who do not remember their history are destined to repeat it.
If tearing down statues actually has an effect, why aren’t we tearing down statues of George W. Bush or Barack Obama to end wars? Along with Donald Trump, these two former presidents and one current one all have the blood of millions of brown people on their hands left there by waging and maintaining endless wars in the Middle East. Where is that outrage?
How have we not learned that you can’t end racism by yanking down a confederate statue just like you can end US imperialism by removing a George W. Bush statue? One possible reason is that we’ve all been distracted by party lines and bickered over irrelevant talking points instead of talking about and demanding actual solutions.
If I were the establishment, I would be ecstatic that people are focusing on removing statues. It keeps the masses pacified talking about stone and metal while ignoring real solutions like ending the drug war, qualified immunity, & police for profit. Well played govt, well played
— Matt Agorist (@MattAgorist) June 16, 2020
A statue holds no magical power to make people racists. If anything, the monuments to former racists serve as reminders that the state can and always will be open to the influence of bigotry. This is a telling reminder given the fact that only the state has the power to legally enforce said bigotry.
An ignorant racist is exactly that — however, if society grants that ignorant racist a political position or a badge and a gun, this ignorant racist now has “authority” over you. Removing or keeping a piece of concrete will never change this.
Jim Crow laws weren’t overturned because people went around town tearing down statues.
Racist government laws were brought to an end because people refused to obey them. Had Rosa Parks used her time and energy climbing up to the top of statues instead of disobeying a racist law, rest assured Browder v. Gayle, which ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional, would’ve never happened until much later.
Had the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s not organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, rest assured, desegregation would’ve taken much longer.