By Dennis Hartley
A friend and I were commiserating the other day about how demoralizing the events in Charlottesville were. Being a couple of old lefty Seattle hippies, we were of course feeling the need to “do” something; how to make a counter-statement to this brazen display of racism and hate? I joked, “It’s not like we can go out and pull down a Confederate statue…good luck finding one in this town, amirite?”
In Seattle, you’re more likely to bump into a public statue of Lenin:
Or a troll under a bridge, crushing a VW bug in his huge maw:
Seattle is funky. Whimsical. Confederate memorials? Nah! Well, shit:
[via The Seattle Times]
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray expressed “concerns” about a monument to Confederate soldiers in Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery, which closed Wednesday afternoon for security reasons.
A statement issued by Murray’s office said he called a cemetery representative Wednesday regarding the monument, which was erected in 1926. The cemetery is privately owned.
Lake View Cemetery closed Wednesday afternoon after receiving threats related to the monument, said Craig Lohr of the Lake View Cemetery Association. Seattle news media recently reported on the existence of the monument.
The cemetery — best known as the final resting place for martial-arts star Bruce Lee and his son Brandon, as well as Seattle’s founders — will likely reopen Thursday morning.
The mayor’s statement said:
“We must remove statues and flags that represent this country’s abhorrent history of slavery and oppression based on the color of people’s skin. It is the right thing to do. During this troubling time when neo-Nazis and white power groups are escalating their racist activity, Seattle needs to join with cities and towns across the country who are sending a strong message by taking these archaic symbols down.”The mayor’s office couldn’t be reached to clarify Murray’s statement. A petition on Change.org calling for the removal of the memorial had more than 3,200 supporters late Wednesday afternoon.
Also on Wednesday, a small group of protesters gathered around the Vladimir Lenin statue in Fremont to demand its removal. The statue, located on private property, has been for sale for years and has been vandalized with red paint on one of its hands.
What our mayor said. And I’m sure Bruce Lee would concur.
And OK, I “get” what the handful of protesters calling for removal of the Lenin statue are trying to say…in theory. And if it was any other week, I’d give ’em a fair hearing. But you know what? In the context of the events of this past weekend, that’s a false equivalency. I don’t believe I spotted any overt Leninist marchers carrying (and beating people with) tiki torches in Charlottesville. I believe some of those fine people were self-avowed, oh, what are they called again…Nazis?
In this case, what the mayor (and most of the other people of the world who aren’t Donald Trump) are saying is, that if the first step in purging this legacy of violence, bigotry, and (oh yes) sedition against the United States of America is to take these archaic symbols down…then by all means, take all these fucking archaic symbols down.
The president stated that history and culture are being “ripped apart” by tearing these statues down. That is just an extension of the tired old argument that’s been used in the past by individuals and organizations who concern troll about “historical preservation” when attempting to legally block Confederate flags from being removed from government property. The Jim Crow laws are also part of the south’s history and culture…is anyone clamoring to have those resurrected and preserved as well? (I’m sure there’s some.)
It is possible to purge such symbols of hatred while keeping your democracy intact. Just ask any German. From The Washington Post:
Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Monday that the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville was “sickening.” He described the symbols and slogans employed in “the right-wing extremist march” — including swastikas and chants of “Blood and soil,” a Nazi-era motto — as “diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.”
“Most people in Germany have difficulty understanding that gatherings like in Charlottesville are possible in the U.S., because we have drawn a different lesson from history,” said Matthias Jahn, chairman of criminal law at Goethe University in Frankfurt. “Our German law centers on the strong belief that you should hinder this kind of speech in a society committed to principles of democratic coexistence and peace.”
Those Germans sound like a bunch of old lefty Seattle hippies.