The statue of former United States president William McKinley stands in the middle of Arcata Plaza. . Photo credit: Diego Linares

Stick it to the statue!

It's more than just a statue, it's a story.

By | Philip Santos

Don’t be silly. Smashing a statue will never change the past. What’s done is done; history is history, right? The problem with this sentiment is that which history is history depends on who you ask. If you ask an average citizen why the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on civilians in Japan, their response would probably be: “To win the war.” Turn to someone else and they might say, “It was to send a message – that we will do this to you if we want to.” Those are two versions of an infamous event that are very different from one another, yet both can be true either separately or simultaneously.

The statue of former United States president William McKinley stands in the middle of Arcata Plaza. The statue was erected in 1906 and has been at the center of controversy. Photo credit: Diego Linares

Statues memorialize people and events which will always remind us that one thing can have a variety of meanings. How do we reconcile the fact that the Founding Fathers are seen primarily as the harbingers of democracy by some, yet are simultaneously documented as perpetrators of genocide? I’m just a simpleton student working on my undergrad, but I think I have an idea: find a way to tell the truth. While truth is complicated, that is no justification for promoting a lie. And most statues are liars. A statue is lying when it’s preserved in a way which forwards a fraction of its historic context. Most statues meet this criteria. So how do we get a statue to tell the truth? We supplement the story by bolstering one-sided narratives with previously erased histories. Where there is a statue of George Washington, let it be known that he was also known as “town destroyer” by the Iroquois Confederacy. Where there is a statue of William McKinley, let it be known that he authorized the annexation of Hawaii, and Guam, and Samoa, and Puerto Rico.

The statue of former United States president William McKinley stands in the middle of Arcata Plaza. Photo credit: Diego Linares

When we take the time to understand that history is complex, it becomes easier to understand the same is true of us. We are complex, more than simple terms like “racist” or “liberal.” Statues are no different, but unlike us they cannot speak for themselves, which is why we need to take the rest of history and stick it to the statue.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on reddit

More Stories

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Cowboy Daddy's Drummer and Keyboard player Conner West, 25, and guitarist Skye Freitas, 24, jam out at the Gutswurrak Student Activity Center on April 28.

Local bands rock the Gutswurrak

by Ione Dellos Band members wait in front of the bathrooms, eyes anxiously fluttering from the stage to the growing audience in the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center. After the deepest sigh one could possibly take, they make their way to

Travis Allen pole vaults at the Green and Gold Track Event on Feb. 12 Photo by Morgan Hancock.

Athlete’s outperform at decathlon

by Carlos Pedraza The Cal Poly Humboldt Track and Field team participated in the Stanislaus State Multi-Event from Thursday April 7 to Saturday April 9. The team participated in over 10 different events, all of which were multi-day involving different

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Izzy Star hits a home run in final softball game of the season at the Bear River Recreation Center in Loleta, California on Saturday, April 30.

Cal Poly Humboldt plays its last softball game of the series

by Eddie Carpenter On April 30, Cal Poly Humboldt Softball played the last two games of their series against Cal State San Marcos. Due to weather conditions, the softball games had to be relocated to the Bear River Recreation Center

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply