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My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

Fallible historical fallacies

7

The latest rage in outrage seems to be iconoclasm, or the tearing down of statues of ancient oppressors. I blame Charlottesville, where it began. But where will it end? Weren't all our white male Founding Fathers colonial oppressors? At this rate, the only statues left standing will be of fictional characters, woodland creatures, or those Henry Moore things outside the AGO and City Hall. Oh, wait. Did Henry Moore ever utter a racist thought, abuse a woman or child, or vote Conservative, even just once in his life? Because if he did, then down come his statues!


We are literally moving into a world that completely lacks context. Here in Canada there is a movement to discredit and shame nobodies like Egerton Ryerson, or even our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald. According to a recent article by Jesse McLaren printed in rabble.ca, MacDonald was more than just the red-nosed drunk we grew up loving as schoolkids. He also "founded Canada on stolen land, criminalized abortion, criminalized homosexuality, used starvation as a weapon, created a repressive police, expanded capitalism, promoted residential schools, outlawed the potlatch, imposed a racist head tax, and executed dissidents." Jeez, that's quite a laundry list of offenses. Did he also drink blood? Down with the fucker's statue!

Even our precious gay village is being dragged into this nonsense, as some moron on Facebook suggested we tear down the Alexander Wood statue because he was a sexual predator. Again, no context. We have no information on Wood's sex life. We do know that, acting in his role as a magistrate, he examined the genitals of several soldiers, one a rapist visibly injured during his attack on the woman. Did Wood enjoy eyeballing soldier cock? Was he even a homosexual? Doesn't matter! Tear down the fucking statue already!

They say that history is written by the winners. Now we're hearing hidden histories as well, which is great, but we cannot apply our holier-than-then moral standards to the past. What do we ever really know about other people? The most accomplished human beings usually sabotaged the competition on their way to get to the top. They often lie and create myths to enhance their reputations. They get drunk and beat their wife and kids. Bing Crosby, Thomas Edison, Mother Theresa, Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso, even John F Kennedy were terrible people, philanderers, cheaters or outright abusers. Does that mean we now have to give up White Christmas, Guernica, Vertigo and the lightbulb? 

Tearing down statues is what people do in revolutions. Remember the Russian revolution, where they took down statues of the Czar and later replaced them with statues of Lenin, then they tore those down? Maybe we should just stop making statues of real people, whose messy lives are so ripe for judgment. Whatever you do, though, please leave Mount Rushmore alone. I realize it is carved into Lakota territory, and both Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, and it doesn't help that Roosevelt was a big game hunter, but can we just let it stand? Poor old Gutzon Borglum spent his whole life sculpting it, and it is just too cool looking to destroy. 

 

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