The Acton Institute continues its bimonthly publication partnership with The Detroit News. This November, Dan Hugger, Acton’s librarian and research associate, wrote a piece on the tearing down of public monuments.
Hugger begins with a brief history, explaining why for thousands of years people have created these public works. “Monuments serve as physical vessels through which cultures the world over not only remember their heritage but also continue to transmit that heritage to the next generation.” Considering their ability to effectively transmit memories, Hugger notes that it is not surprising that monuments are at the center of the culture wars.
Hugger highlights two recent incidents in London and New York City. In London, a group is petitioning the Imperial College London to remove a statue of Thomas Henry Huxley, while in New York a group unanimously voted to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from City Hall. Both groups propose that these men had ties to racism and should not be celebrated. But, Hugger explains, it is their achievements in science and civics that are being celebrated with those monuments, not racism.
To conclude, Hugger imagines a hopeful, less destructive way forward. “There is no option to erase the past and start anew; what we imagine we were will determine, in part, what we become, and a transformative grace applied to our past will secure a brighter future.”
Read the full article at acton.is/monuments.