Anne and I were in Athens, Greece last year at the same time Mike Pompeo paid a visit.
Thousands of Greeks protested his visit.
Not far from our hotel where we were staying stands a statue of Harry Truman.
Every time there is a protest of American policies or a visit from somebody like Pompeo, Greeks march on over to the statue of Harry Truman and throw red paint at it.
In 1987 the monument was blown off its pedestal a few nights before the arrival of Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
The Socialist Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou restored it and put it back.
It has been a source of controversy ever since.
Monuments matter. They symbolize what a society literally stands for.
They illustrate our values.
At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, southern segregationists erected Confederate memorials across the south.
As a delegate to an NEA convention a few years ago I offered a proposal that we, the largest union of educators in the world, should support taking the crap down. Following the longest debate in NEA convention history, my proposal was adopted and was never heard from again.
In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, many of those monuments are being taken town by official and unofficial means.
The lesson is that direct action beats convention proposals most of the time.
In Chicago there is a demand to take down a statue of Christopher Columbus in a park on the west side. Columbus was a murderer and enslaver of indigenous people. He should not be honored.
The statue should come down.
The idea that statues of enslavers and murderers should remain for their educational value is nonsense.
There is no need to mention Hitler at this point. And besides, it doesn’t work that way. Teachers can teach the truth about Columbus just fine without a statue.
I’m glad we have a street named for Ida B. Wells. But to me that great woman was also disrespected and used so we could keep a street named for Italo Balbo, an Italian Blackshirt leader who served as Italy’s Marshal of the Air Force, Governor-General of Libya, Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa, and the “heir apparent” to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. That is offensive.
And that monument to fascism on the lake front across from Soldier Field.
Take it down.
I posted a picture yesterday that I took of a statue to Harriet Tubman from a visit to Harlem last year.
We need more of that.
We need more public honoring of those whose actions we want our children to emulate.
We don’t need any more negative examples.
As long-time educator I can tell you that modeling what is right is the best way to teach.