The Dis-United States Of America
Sat, 07/04/2020 – 11:35
Submitted by GEFIRA,
We all remember those shots. American troops are entering Baghdad. A tank stops somewhere in the city, cautiously, in the vicinity of a Saddam Hussein monument. After a few minutes of apparent inactivity, a crowd is beginning to form around the monument. The crowd is not all that big. It rallies around the figure of Iraq’s president. Soon an American soldier climbs the monument and puts an American flag on it. An Iraqi intervenes, so the flag is replaced with the Iraqi one. And then, then some individuals begin to climb the statue, a crane arrives from somewhere, a steel rope is attached to the monument and the crane drives slowly back, taunting the line and gradually slanting the president’s image to its feet. Eventually the figure drops to the ground and the cheering people dance around it, deliver it kicks and carry some of the pieces that fell off in the process away.
The alien forces have conquered the capital city of the enemy and performed an age-old ritual that victors used to perform in the presence of the vanquished: Americans demolished the material symbol of the enemy’s sovereignty and by doing it they also humiliated the routed nation.
In the nineties of the 20th century we could all see angry Russians in Moscow, but also angry Poles in Warsaw and equally angry residents of other European capitals tearing down monuments from the communist era, especially those of Comrade Felix Dzerzhinsky, the notorious head of the Cheka (from: Всероссийская чрезвычайная комиссия, i.e. Vserossiyskaya chrezvychaynaya komissiya = The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission).
Since the dawn of history monuments would be put up and torn down. Either act reflected a huge political, social, religious or demographic change. Monuments are erected by common consent of the majority of a given (national, social, religious, political) community, in which case they are wanted as a tribute to or a memory of the community’s most cherished heroes or values, or they are enforced by occupying forces, in which case they are hated by those against whose will they have been put up.
Monuments are only desecrated, defaced, toppled or destroyed by the enemies of those who built them. Americans in Iraq and a part of Iraqi nation was against Saddam Hussein; a rather large part of the Russian nation nurtured bitter memories concerning the henchmen of their ancestors like Felix Dzerzhinsky, so they vented their anger on his images the moment an opportunity presented itself. The divide between those who put up the monuments and those who hated the sight of them was in each case insurmountable. What was dear to the former, was abhorrent to the latter.
Recently a huge wave of monument desecration and monument removal has swept the United States and to a much lesser extent Europe. It is mostly the heroes of the American South – generals of the Army of the Confederate States – that are targeted, but not only. Also abolitionists,1) fighters for American independence of other nationalities,2) Christian missionaries3) and even Jesus Christ himself.4) John Wayne may not be spared the same fate either5) so much so that a monument to a Portland elk – his ancestor was presumably a slave owner and the elk – a confirmed racist – fell victim to the rage of American iconoclasts.6)