When Edward Colston’s statue was torn down by a mob in central Bristol on the 7th of June, it was clear the gloves had come off. Far from being spontaneous anti-racism action by the British public, it was the confluence of lockdown frustration, activist agitation, cultural groundwork and local-governmental approval.
Finally, the simmering contempt for Britain and its history was expressed plainly. Decades of indoctrination in schools, universities and mass media – curated by social-media policies and bankrolled by woke corporations – culminated that day.
Seeking release from the tedium and stress of lockdown, a crowd gathered to protest. Protest that was never explained. Bristol is not riven with racism – it is the most left-wing city in Britain. It is run by progressives and every complaint of racism (however unsubstantiated) is taken very seriously.
For years, race activists – riding on a self-replacing corpus of university students – have had a sympathetic ear from the mayor and local council on the topic of removing Colston’s statue. (Colston was an investor in a company that traded slaves.)
The only problem is the local population rather liked the statue and thwarted the council’s attempts to remove it. When the opportunity arrived, the mayor and police commanders ordered policemen not to intervene when the mob pulled down the statue. The mob was not toppling a figure of authority but rather following the wishes of the authorities bent on petty revenge and virtue signalling.
For years, academics have been stripping the curriculum of the canon of the West and inserting progressive/foreign/minority/female figures. This is called “diversifying” the canon and – when applied to non-white figures – “decolonising”. It is an active campaign that has been going on for over forty years.
It has now permeated all levels of academia and arts organisations. The facades of once-august institutions conceal structures that have been hollowed out. It takes only a touch for the pillars to tremble.
Consider that the British Museum director, Hartwig Fischer, moved the bust of BM founder Hans Sloane to a cabinet where it is surrounded by pejorative contextualisation regarding his links with slavery. (Contextualisation is the fall-back option of public humiliation used when removal or destruction is not achievable.) We have to endure the jeers of a BLM-supporting German progressive lecturing us on our history.
What is noticeable is how feeble institutions and politicians were when the middle-class (white) race warriors were defacing statues of Churchill and defiling the Cenotaph.
When working-class men came out to protect statues, Conservatives denounced them as “far right”. Consumed by middle-class white guilt, paralysed by the fear of being labelled racist, no prominent politician or leader of an arts organisation opposed the iconoclasm, despite the majority of the population despising the violence. None of these coward deserves a statue. They deserve only to shamed to the core.
Alexander Adams is a British artist and author. His book Iconoclasm, Identity Politics and the Erasure of History is published by Societas, 6 October.