Historic ‘white men’ statues may be destroyed in UK – Telegraph
Monuments to “aggressors” may need to be taken down as “offensive,” new Welsh government guidance reportedly states
UK monuments erected to celebrate “older white men” can be taken down or relocated in order not to offend the public, according to new Welsh government guidance cited by the Telegraph on Saturday. The newspaper said the document is expected to be finalized this month.
The guidance claims monuments “can be offensive to people today who see them in a different light,” including as “aggressors who conquered peoples to expand the British Empire.”
The document reportedly argues that existing memorials project the “perception that the achievements that society considers noteworthy are those of powerful, older, able-bodied white men.”
According to the Telegraph, the statues of general Arthur Wellesley and admiral Horatio Nelson, hailed for their victories against Napoleon, could fall under this rubric. Both commanders have been accused by activists in the past of enabling colonialism and slavery.
The guidance advises authorities and other public institutions to “take action” to set “the right historical narrative,” according to the newspaper.
The options laid out include the destruction and relocation of “offensive and unwanted items.” Officials are also recommended to “discretely box monuments or enclose them creatively in new artworks,” as well as removing the names of streets and buildings that the public finds inappropriate.
Multiple statues have been toppled or defaced in Britain since 2020, when anti-racism protests and riots broke out in the US and other Western countries. The outrage was initially sparked by the killing of an African American man named George Floyd by the Minneapolis police.
Activists have insisted that some monuments glorify shameful parts of British history. In 2020, they tore down the statue of merchant, politician, and slave-trader Edward Colston in Bristol. The monument to Winston Churchill in London’s Parliament Square was vandalized the same year during a Black Lives Matter protest.
The attacks on memorials prompted backlash from some government officials. Robert Jenrick, then the communities secretary, described the activists in 2021 as “a baying mob” trying to “edit or censor the past.”
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