It’s Far Too Easy to Lose Sight of the Real Fight
This will be short, and pointed.
Destroying statues and other racist symbology does not change history, but honestly communicating about our problematic past (and present) may well change our future.
For the better.
I do not believe in suppression, which only builds and eventually releases, if not explodes, later. We have throughout our history taught our children primarily from a majority perspective, which as a former school teacher I can say with some authority has been an ongoing issue with certain approved curriculum.
The following article appeared in my online newsfeed this morning:
Monuments deemed racist topple in wake of George Floyd's killing
One consequence of the worldwide protests sparked by the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of…
From a fellow protester who strives pretty much daily to fight the scourge of racism by both marching and writing, this isn’t the way to go.
Destroying monuments, historical or otherwise, is no different than burning books.
It does not end well.
Notice most everyone in this piece’s lead-in photo appears to be Caucasian. It’s either a telling shot, or white indignation at its most misdirected.
I’m Jewish; Hitler’s Nazis destroyed art. Yet “Triumph of the Will” and “Mein Kampf” are necessary documents that must be studied and never forgotten.
The Nazis and other enemy political parties over the centuries destroyed art and we were mortified. Not an equivalency, but destroying historical art — or art of any kind — sets a stage for suppression that never ends well.
I cannot pretend the Holocaust never existed; ignoring propaganda from that period may blind me if those seeds are once again planted.
I wholeheartedly agree with the removal the offending statues during this period of political transformation. I don’t want them there either, and haven’t for years. Nor do I want to see another Confederate flag in my life. But store them and teach about them in our history books so as not to repeat that history.
Otherwise, taking that history into our own hands — and veritably attempting to change it — only furthers our goal post.
Where then does it end? How does this destruction presently contribute to the necessary solution? Businesses have been destroyed and eyes and ears have opened as to our true frustration and power. We have their attention; we need to move forward. Politicians appear to be listening. We are marching for transformation, for lasting change in the battle against racism and for comprehensive police reform.
Rewriting history on a whim does none of these things. It’s a catharsis that will only distract from progress and that is all, despite best intentions.
For those who say, “We can save them digitally and lose the real ones,” in theory I would agree. But the reality is tools exist to erase offending online material. Peruse websites such as those that rewrite one’s reputation.
The question, on repeat, is: “Where does it end?”
#InSolidarity for real progression, not distraction.
Thank you for reading.
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Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning writer and producer, and partner in Council Tree Productions, a television development company. He writes and edits an e-newsletter version of his Medium publication, “Writing For Your Life,” which you can subscribe to here:
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