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    When people started decapitating statues linked to slavery, i saw this as a chance to rewrite history according to contemporary moral standard. I don't understand, for example, why all history books hail Julius Caesar as a great conqueror and leader: he invaded and massacred people who had done nothing to Rome. I heard a famous historian regret that Julius Caesar was murdered: he lamented that Julius Caesar died just as he was preparing an invasion of Mesopotamia (today's Middle East) as if invading a distant land was a good thing to do. I was hoping that decapitating statues was the beginning of a "moral" revision of history that would describe events for what they were according to today's ethical principles.

    My hope turned into disappointment when i realized that only descendants of Europeans were willing to engage in this rewrite of history. Let me take the most politically incorrect example. The vast majority of descendants of Europeans openly condemns the Atlantic slave trade, but i haven't heard a single descendant of Africans do their own share of "mea culpa". One reason why Europeans took slaves from Africa is simple: African kingdoms were selling slaves. The Europeans didn't need to go and chase people in the jungle. All they had to do was to buy slaves at the slave markets. The sellers were (at least at the beginning) almost always Africans: black people selling black people. It could be that there were more African slave traders than European ones. I would expect that the descendants of those African kingdoms would condemn the slave trade ("their" slave trade) as much as the descendants of the European powers do. I haven't seen it. African-Americans in the USA routinely assume that they are descendants of slaves, but some of them may well be descendants of slaves "and" of slave traders. Will the same people start decapitating statues to African civilization? Decapitate Washington and Jefferson only if you are willing to decapitate all the kings of Africa before colonization.

    It is not even clear where the most brutal massacres happened. The fact that Europeans were better at writing down their history doesn't mean that they were the only ones to engage in wars and genocide: neither the first ones nor the only ones, and possibly not even the worst ones. Fast forward to 2020, and very few Europeans want to move to Africa, whereas millions of Africans are trying to move to Europe (and would move to the USA if they didn't have an ocean in between). Even more embarrassing is the fact that most of the descendants of African slaves don't want to move back to Africa. A reappraisal of history is very welcome if everybody faces the truth. There is still too much hypocrisy in the writing and reading of history.

    The people who decapitate statues should be listed on an international blacklist. What are they going to do when they visit the National Museum of Athens? Will they decapitate the statues that represent the fascism and racism of Sparta? What are they going to do in Rome? Decapitate the statues of all those terrible Roman emperors? You should definitely tear down the Colosseum. Or even the Tour Eiffel, which was really a symbol of French colonialism (and therefore racism). What about the giant statues of Egypt, that represent ferocious dictators with armies of slaves? What about the statues of Maya and other Mesoamerican rulers? Those were ferocious brutal serial killers and enslavers too. Pretty much every ruler of the ancient world had slaves. Should we decapotate all the statues to the Aztec and Inca civilizations, two of the most brutal of the history of the human race? And why only statues? What about the paintings that depict racist scenes? There are so many that one could write an entire book about the subject. Should we deface and burn all those paintings? And not only in Europe: plenty of paintings and reliefs representing all sorts of unpleasant values can be found anywhere from India to Mexico.

    Make sure that Greece, Italy, Cambodia, India, China, Mexico, etc know when these people come to visit their antiquities: if these people are consistent with their actions against white slave owners, they will vandalize your antiquities too.

    Shall we burn Homer's poems, that depict as heroes the soldiers who fought over the 12-year-old Helen of Troy? Shall we burn Dante's "Divine Comedy" because Dante puts Justinian I in Paradise (and Mohammed in Hell)? What about Portugal's national poet Camoes, whose epic poem sings Portugal's conquests and enslavement of foreign lands? What about the Viking sagas? Aristotle defended slavery as good for the slaves themselves ("the slave is a part of the master, a living but separated part of his bodily frame") and believed that women were incapable of thinking. Kant and Hume were racist, Frege was anti-Semitic, and Wittgenstein was sexist.

    And what about statues of Martin Luther King? If it is true that he had extramaritan affairs with some 40 women, should we decapitate statues of him to protest against husbands who cheat on their wives? If we don't decapitate his statues, does it mean that we approve and encourage men who cheat on their wives? Pick apart the private lives of African-American leaders and you may find plenty to justify beheading their statues too, from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Dig and you'll find something about Nelson Mandela (e.g., Mandela was president of South Africa when almost 12% of South Africa's adults got infected with HIV/AIDS because of unscientific messages coming from his government).

    I also suggest you decapitate all the crucifixes because a lot of horrible crimes were committed by the Church and by its missionaries in the name of that crucifix.

    Maybe we should indeed erase the past of the human civilization, but i wouldn't want a mob of people who didn't study history to decide for all of us and for all of future generations which parts to erase and which parts to keep. You should also be aware that decapitating statues is not a very innovative idea. Mao's Red Guards did it during the Cultural Revolution, and the Taliban blew up the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan because they represented moral values like peace and tolerance that the Taliban despise; and that's just to mention the most recent cases.

    If you only decapitate the statue of Columbus, sorry, but it looks a lot like racism against Italians or Spaniards or both. (For those who didn't study history, Italy didn't exist until 1861: Columbus was born in the republic of Genoa that stretched from France to Greece and to Tunisia with not even 50% of its territory in today's Italy. Nor did he ever write anything in Italian: he wrote in Spanish even the letters to his brothers. Nor did he ever name a town or island after an Italian place: he named them after Spanish and Portuguese towns. Nor was he working for an Italian state: he left Genoa at the age of 25, moved to Portugal and then to Spain. Nor did the Italian states benefit much from his discovery: no Italian state ever had colonies in the Americas. But this may be too complicated to understand for someone who is more interested in decapitating statues, and maybe soon people, than in studying history). Columbus was a genius of exploration. A real genius. Like most humans, from Homer to Einstein, he was not a saint, especially by the moral standards of future generations. He lived in that age; and lived the way people lived back then. Whoever your ancestors are, their values probably weren't all that different. Slavery was widely accepted, women were widely discriminated, torture was widely practiced, warfare was endemic, etc. Humans are not my favorite animals.

    If you are a vandalizer/toppler of other people's statues, are you sure that all of your ancestors were saints? Alas, i suspect that we are all descendants of people who committed horrible crimes against humankind, judged by today's standards. Slavery was practiced in every single society of the past. Racism has always been endemic, and it used to have much more violent manifestations (resulting in the genocide of entire races).

    Be consistent: decapitate a statue of yourself, or any statue of anybody.

    What we worship in the statues of Shakespeare, Dante, Columbus, Martin Luther King and so on is not their private lives but what they meant for the progress of human civilization, which was also progress towards today's moral values.

    Decapitating Columbus for a US citizen is an act of hypocrisy. If you live in the USA, you are the child of Columbus. Everything you are and you own today is because of Columbus. Decapitate Columbus only if you are willing to decapitate your own selfie. If you think that what we have today is unfair, be consistent: drop everything and move to the land of your ancestors, somewhere in Europe, Asia, Latin America or Africa. Why are you still here? You are benefiting from the massacres of the nations that were living in America before Columbus came. However, once in Europe or Latin America or Africa or Asia, you may find out that the country where you settle is not any better than the USA as far as its history goes: that country too, most likely, was born out of wars, genocides, and slavery. The original people were wiped out by the invaders, and those are your ancestors. There is no land that is truly "yours", that you can call "yours" based on today's moral values. So be consistent: go back to the prehistoric caves and to the savannah.

    Did colonization bring civilization and culture? I don't know, it all depends on definitions. But it brought YOU. You are the product of colonization. Decapitate yourself. In fact, you are the product of millions of tragedies that befell your ancestors over the course of 200,000 years and of all the tragedies that devastated the animal kingdom since the first cell arose in some lake of boiling water. Do we need to worship all those tragedies? No, but it's educational to remember (and to document) what we are, and not pretend that some of us are only the victims. "They" were the victims, but they are long gone.

    There is a difference between a moral value, which depends on the time and the place, and a fact (an invention, a discovery, a book, an artwork) that contributed to the progress of human civilization: don't obliterate the latter in the name of the former. If a great scientist found a cure for cancer but turned out to be a racist monster, it wouldn't be a good idea to throw away her cure for cancer: we can still celebrate that scientist for her scientific achievement without celebrating the racist who coexisted with the bright scientist inside her mind.

    Unfortunately, this has created the "cancel culture" atmosphere in which eminent scholars may be boycotted because of something they said that didn't conform to the dogmas/aberrations of those who didn't study history. John McWhorter describes this as a "new Maoism" because of the tendency to demand public confessions and to adhere to an ideological dogma (see his article) and more than 100 writers published a letter in Harper's magazine in which they decried this new Maoism (see see the open letter). Andrew Sullivan has noted similarities with the Christian Inquisition of the 16th century. At the same time that we are witnessing a transfer of religious cults to political cults (like the cults of Trump, Putin and Xi), we witness the rise of pseudo-historical cults that punish "heresy" by banishing and torturing the "heretics".

    Moral values change. You, who think that you are morally irreprehensible and justified in judging people of the past, may in the future be treated like a scoundrel because today's moral values, that seem so obvious to you, will some day look as bad as Columbus values look to you. Did you eat your hamburger today? Maybe in a few years eating other animals may be considered a disgusting practice of amoral barbaric people of your age. Before being judgmental about others, make sure you won't re be the next victim of a cultural revolution: plenty of revolutionaries ended up being beheaded after their revolution triumphed by the next generation that saw them as not revolutionary enough (see Samuel Gregg's article about the coming "Great Terror" and Rebecca Spang's "How Revolutions Happen").

    See also
    Only Black Lives Matter?
    Reparations? Maybe a good idea, but not what you think.
    What is Wrong with White Christian Men?

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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TM, ®, Copyright © 2017 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.