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June 22, 2020

Down with symbols

Opinion

June 22, 2020

As protests and uprisings sweep across the nation and world, America’s profane aesthetics face extinction – desecrations of Christopher Columbus, Robert E Lee and Frank Rizzo, all symbols of whiteness and white supremacy, force imperialism, racism, and capitalism to see further days of reckoning and perhaps one day, “The End of Policing.”

In Darkwater, W E B Du Bois wrote “the discovery of personal whiteness is a 19th and 20th century matter… This assumption that all whiteness alone is inherently and obviously better than browness or tan leads to curious acts… What’s the effect on a man or a nation when it comes passionately to believe such an extraordinary dictum as this?”

E Frances White compared James Baldwin’s and Toni Morrison’s perspectives on white identity construction: “For Baldwin, whiteness was about a false claim on innocence that depended on the demonization of blackness. Both Baldwin and Morrison expose the fragility of whiteness, and in the process disrupt any notion of pure whiteness, distinct from, and in opposition to, blackness.”

In regards to white privilege, Toni Morrison remarked, “So scary are the consequences of the collapse [of it] that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.”

Statue desecration strikes a nerve and makes the knees tremble for many white supremacists that believe in protecting the permanence of white superiority found in unassailable figures. On May 31, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument was removed in the city of Birmingham. Just one day later in Fort Myers, Florida, the Sons of Confederate Veterans removed a bust of Robert E Lee. By weeks end, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, and North Carolina all implemented speedy plans for monument and statue removal in their respective cities.

After protesters toppled an eight-foot statue of Jefferson Davis, he was hauled onto a tow truck like a heavy piece of trash. This and more removals created a backlash of alt-right counter-protesters prepared to defend remaining statues around the country. More moderate citizens defended their right to comfort through expressing their own “pride of heritage and history” as seen in the defense of Davis monuments elsewhere.

Excerpted from: 'In Praise of the FloydRebellion and Statue Desecration'.

Counterpunch.org