Updated: 19/08/17 : 06:53:16
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editorial

Hey, please leave all the statues alone

By Eugene McGloin

BALLYMOTE'S STATUE, pictured, honours all the Irish dead of the American Civil War.

By definition, and by history anyway, some of those 'sons of Erin' supported slavery.

Our own Civil War in a later century is as variegated and as complex, as challenging.

Sligo is peppered with monuments and memories of people who, by definition, were on one side or the other of conflicts with atrocities.

Too Expensive

Hopefully however we will never become as priggish on political correctness as some well-heeled Americans.

How else can you explain their (latest) crass stupidity in toppling statues.

One excuse for doing it was that it would be ''too expensive'' to erect plaques with a counter narrative beside some of these disputed statues.

Of all countries in the free world, America has the least cause for comfort when it comes to its conduct during conflicts, inside and outside its country.

We have acknowledged that in several ways in Sligo during recent decades -- for example, with statues and Civic Receptions for refugees. 

The ability to 'tolerate difference' is one of the (essential) paths to freedom. Quoting Michael Collins.

Literature is littered with accounts of actions we despise but we still try to learn the Big Lesson. 

Example in the current climate of toppling statues is that of Tecumseh Sherman.

One of its toughest combat medium tanks is named after this git of gits, albeit named by the English.

One of my fave writers, the late EL Doctorow, painted a chilling picture of Sherman's madness in ''The March'' during the American Civil War.

By definition, some of Sherman's soldiers are among those honoured in the Sligo statue.

That monument was unveiled by Enda Kenny as Taoiseach less than three years ago. It is a fitting tribute.

Both Sides

My own music collection has an extensive repertoire of songs from both sides of the American Civil War.

From books and music and culture, statues included, we learn to sift and sort and select those ideas and ideals we cherish. 

That is best done with the FULL picture, not the 'broken mirror' idea of a half-picture as with toppling statues. In a Democracy? 

Trump is increasingly becoming an 'antipope' in the White House, a heretic maybe.

Is he the sole hawker of hated ideas or of ideas of Hate. Try these two:-

1. ''I don't want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy's window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses.''

Sounds like Trump speaking about, well, about everybody who works for him in 2017. But no, it's Kennedy's choice for office, Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.

2. ''After killing the women and children they stopped to eat the steaks which they had roasted from a bull they killed shortly after their arrival.

''They laughed at old people who cried out like sheep when the blunt knives did not cut their throats.

''They sang while they listened to radios they stole.....later in the evening when the massacre was finished.''

War crimes on the watch of (the revered) Ronald Reagan in the 1980s have been documented by Amnesty International, in the songs of Bono and U2, in the work and words of Trocaire.

Trump and some of those subjects in the toppled statues have a long way to go, yet.