Andrew Lilico writes:
Few, if any, great figures of the past led unblemished lives. All of us are sinners, and great men and heroes are no different. Another Westminster bridge statues is of Boudicca and her daughters. During her famous rebellion, Boudicca’s forces impaled the noblest women they captured on spikes, with their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths. Should we tear down her statue lest folk think that is what we are celebrating about her? (Actually, in her case, it kind of is…)
What about Nelson? He was a flawed man in many ways. Indeed, his adultery with Lady Hamilton is notorious. A Guardian article on Tuesday said we should tear down his column because in the Lords he opposed parliamentary measures to curtail slavery and the slave trade. But quite obviously Nelson’s column is not there to celebrate or approve of his being an adulterer or a supporter of slavery. It is to commemorate his role in the navy, especially (though not solely) at the Battle of Trafalgar, our defeat of the French and the defence of our lands from over-run by hostile invaders. …
Sure – Churchill in the early 1920s used gas attacks and carpet-bombing of civilians in Iraq. Sure — Nelson supported slavery. Sure — Boudicca tortured prisoners for sport. Sure — David murdered one of his own bodyguards to cover up his adultery. In some of these cases we have statues to remember these terrible deeds though not to laud them. In other cases we have statues to remember other great deeds these people did despite their flaws.
Britons have engaged in fell deeds throughout history. We have learned from them and hope to be better now. But we are not ashamed. Perhaps there are statues we should remove. But, by and large, ours is a history to be proud of — for all its many flaws.
We see this here also with some people calling for statues of Captain Cook to be removed etc.
I’m very reluctant to tear down statues of historical figures just because centuries later we judge parts of their lives more harshly.
There are some statues that probably never should have been erected in the first place, such as King Leopold. Killing 10 to 15 million Congolese in one of the worst periods of absolute rule shouldn’t get you a statue.