If you don’t understand why the Confederate statues must come down, then imagine a statue of The Killing of George Floyd.
Picture a ten-foot statue of that iconic image. George Floyd’s face on the ground, the police officer’s knee on his neck, the officer’s hand casually resting in his pocket. Imagine that graven image, cast in bronze and copper, sitting on a pedestal in some city center park, surrounded by an elegant marble and granite walkways that look and feel nothing like the hot gritty asphalt upon which Floyd cried out for his mother as he died. There could be benches where you could sit and study the expression on the officer’s face. The smirk. The slightly arched eyebrows. The conquering hero victorious.
It’s a memorial to America’s Second Civil War, because that’s what this is.
Imagine someone defending The Killing of George Floyd– defending the statue, not the murder – because, you know, it’s not hate, it’s heritage. It’s our history.
Any state or country that would commission such a statue would probably want more than one. There are plenty of poses from which to choose. Eric Garner, with Eric’s hands in the air as one officer, has him in a choke hold and another is clutching Eric’s right arm, like in the picture in the New York Daily News. There is no iconic image of the Death of Michael Brown, but there is a photograph of an officer standing over his dead body, the officer’s right hand resting on his holstered weapon. Imagine that inspiring image in front of some government building or university campus.
If you don’t like those, there are others. Maybe a child-size statue of Tamir Rice and the cop who shot him. The sculptor would need to make the 12-year-old appear more threatening if he wants to make the cop look heroic.
But it’s not hate. It’s history. Do your research.
The most interesting part of this thought experiment is that those statues could be put in public places regardless of the outcome of America’s Second Civil War. If the Trump Cult wins, they will want memorials to the people who kept Blacks in their place. The Defenders of the Faith, if your faith happens to be White Supremacy.
But even if we, as a country, collectively decide that Black Lives Matter, even if Congress actually does something about judicial reform – not just police reform, but serious reform of the entire judicial system – there is nothing to prevent some outlier Red State or states from building memorials to White Supremacy’s Last Stand.
I mean, just imagine how the grandchildren or great-great-great grandchildren of those police officers would feel if the majority of Americans decided they could not have a public, tax-payer-funded memorial to their murdering ancestors.
How would the statue of The Killing of George Floyd – a statue that honors the police officer, not the dying man – be any different from a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, or Confederate President Jefferson Davis, or any other man who fought for the right of one person to own and beat and rape and murder another? The only difference is that The Killing of George Floyd depicts an active scene while statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson or any other slave-owning Confederate soldier depict their subject on horseback or in some noble pose.
The first Civil War ended 165 years ago. That is not as ancient as it may seem. There are 82-year-old Americans who are the grandchildren of a former slave who became a grandparent at age 82. There are 55-year-old men and women who are the great-grandchildren of former slaves who became grandparents in their fifties.
My great-grandfather – my grandfather’s dad – died when I was young. I barely remember him. But I do remember him, and I have a picture of me sitting on his lap. If I was Black, that man could have been a former slave.
Where, exactly, would you like us to build the statue of the man who raped your great-grandmother? Where should we put the memorial to the man who used an ax to chop off your great-grandfather’s foot so he wouldn’t run away? Who beat him?
Where should we put the monument to the man who murdered them all?
Where should we put The Killing of George Floyd?