Removing the sins of the past

The statue of Horatio Nelson on Y Fenai near Llanfairpwll. 'Rwy'n gweld o bell y dydd yn dod, bydd hwn yn cael mynd nol i Sgwar Trafalgar' 'Oh for the day that this statue goes back to Trafalgar Square'

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THE removal of the statue of a Bristol slave owner has now led to similar calls here in Wales.

Edward Colston was torn down by Black Lives Matter protestors on Sunday and dumped into the local harbour.

Now, there’s a campaign to remove the statue of the former Governor of Trinidad, Sir Thomas Picton – known to have executed many slaves – from City Hall Cardiff.

There’s also a campaign to remove the statue of central Africa explorer H M Stanley in Denbigh.

The question of removing problematical historical statues is a thorny one.

Some now take the line that all monuments commemorating any form of slavery and oppression should all be torn down in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with anti-racism campaigners.

The problem with that is that unfortunately slavery is not associated with one particular period, as it has existed at multiple other times as well across all cultures in history.

So, the question is where do you draw the line as far as consistency (and practicality) is concerned.

For example, should the pyramids in Egypt come down now as they were all built by slaves?

There’s also the question of projecting modern sensibilities on to people living in the past, which as everybody knows is more often than not ‘a foreign country’.

But perhaps countries in Eastern Europe have found a compromise solution with this question that could be emulated some day here in Wales.

Statues glorifying the horrors of Communism have not been destroyed as such – but taken off their pedestal, so to speak, and relocated in specific parks where people can learn all about their overall historical context.

A historical park of this sort in Wales, featuring oppressive figures from the past would certainly have a long waiting list to get in!

But perhaps some of them could just be simply sent back to England.

Such as the statue commemorating Horatio Nelson on the banks of Y Fenai.

Nelson had significant investments in the plantations in America.

But what should rile present day Welshmen and women most is the fact that this statue on such an iconic location in our nation bears the inscription:

‘England expects every man to do his duty’!

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