I’ve seen the mobs tearing down statues with a weary resignation. After all, this is the violence of the mob, and the mob cannot be reasoned with. There’s only three things to do with the mob: let it run wild and hope that it spends its energy before lives are lost; contain it so that it’s destruction is contained to an area; or finally quash it with all available force. None of these come without cost in blood and property.
This post isn’t about what to do with mobs. This is about what to do with public statues. Statues are supposed to commemorate great events or persons, represent public values, beautify the community, and/or fund public funds to the artistic community. The problem in our current multi-faceted community is that we have statues that not only do not reflect some factions’ values, but represent horrific events/attitudes in their view. Why should they support those with their tax dollars?
My personal opinion is that all statues should be privately owned and funded. If some great event needs a statue or monument, then there shouldn’t be a problem for a non-profit to raise the funds. Plus, private funding of monuments prevents government from being petitioned to use public funds for largely unwanted projects. I’ve seen some of the statues Tampa has commissioned, and most of them seem like payoffs.
What to do with the current statues? I’m all for cities, states, and even the federal government selling or giving them to private entities. Right now, it would be in the best interest of many municipalities and states to sell as many of them as possible to make up for lost tax revenue. I also have no issue with the government saying that the new owners must relocate the statues.