Liberal Arts Blog — The Statue Problem — Where to draw the line?

Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Film, Design, and All Things Visual Day

Today’s Topic — The Statue Problem — where to draw the line? what should replace them? where to put them?

Iconoclasm has a long history. Moses had the statue of the Golden Calf destroyed. During the Protestant reformation, countless Catholic statues were torn down. In Afghanistan, the Taliban left no ancient Buddhist statue standing. After the fall of the Soviet Union, statues of Lenin and Stalin were sent to a graveyard for memories of an ugly past. Statues of Saddam Hussein were toppled after Iraq’s “liberation.” Today, the statues of Confederates are being removed and defaced. Where do you draw the line? How about the slave-owning Founding Fathers? How about Andrew Jackson? Theodore Roosevelt? Who should replace them? Civil rights activists? Artists, scientists, engineers, physicians, musicians? Who should decide? How? At what level of decision — local, state, national? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. Removal “should stop at the gravesites and battlefields that are meaningful reminders of our nation’s history.” Elliot Ackerman, New York Times, 7/7/20

2. “The vast majority of these Confederate monuments were built during the era of Jim Crow laws from 1877 to 1964. Detractors claim that they were not built as memorials but as a means of intimidating African Americans and reaffirming white supremacy after the Civil War.” (fourth link)

3. Since the Charleston shooting of 2015, 114 Confederate statues have been removed. (Southern Poverty Law Center, fourth link). The pace has accelerated since the killing of George Floyd.


1.”As we continue our work to make Boston a more equitable and just city, it’s important that we look at the stories being told by the public art in all of our neighborhoods,” (Boston Mayor Walsh)

2. “After engaging in a public process, it’s clear that residents and visitors to Boston have been uncomfortable with this statue, and its reductive representation of the Black man’s role in the abolitionist movement. I fully support the Boston Art Commission’s decision for removal and thank them for their work.” (Mayor Walsh)

3. In Washington DC in late June crowds sought to topple the original Emancipation Memorial which was dedicated on April 14, 1876, the eleventh anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. The keynote address was delivered by Frederick Douglass. Police barricades were set up to protect the statue from destruction and prepare for its orderly removal.


1. Should statutes of the slave-owning Founding Fathers (from Washington to Jefferson) be spared because you should net the bad with the good and these guys come out net good? After all, they weren’t traitors like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee?

2. How about Andrew Jackson the architect of Indian Removal? His statue is in the center of Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. If he is out, who should take his place? Martin Luther King?

3. How about Theodore Roosevelt? From the Smithsonian Magazine: “The Racist Statue of Theodore Roosevelt Will No Longer Loom Over the American Museum of Natural History.”


Opinion | Where do we draw the line in tearing down statues?

Opinion | The Confederate Monuments We Shouldn’t Tear Down

Should Statues Of Historic Figures With Complicated Pasts Be Taken Down?

Removal of Confederate monuments and memorials

Boston to remove statue of slave kneeling before Lincoln

Protesters: Remove Statues Of Slave Kneeling Before Lincoln In Boston, D.C.

Protesters denounce Abraham Lincoln statue in D.C., urge removal of Emancipation Memorial

The Racist Statue of Theodore Roosevelt Will No Longer Loom Over the American Museum of Natural History

Roosevelt Statue to Be Removed From Museum of Natural History


So what’s your favorite green painting? Your favorite color in painting? Favorite three examples of such? Please share the coolest thing you learned recently or ever related to art, sculpture, design, architecture, film, or anything visual.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to cement in your own memory something cool or important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that is close to your heart.



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