Applying 21st century standards as an excuse to deface and remove statues of personalities who lived several hundred years ago is an unacceptable practice, itself bordering on racism, MEP and leader of the ruling Hungarian Fidesz party’s caucus leader Tamás Deutsch said in an interview with Euronews.
“Many analyses have made it abundantly clear that attempting to interpret the speeches or writings of outstanding personalities of the national histories of Britain, the United States or any other Western European nation from 100, 200 or 300 years ago based on today’s mainstream liberal political logic is completely idiotic and hair-raisingly un-historical,” Deutsch said. “I can only say that destroying Churchill statues in the name of anti-racist protests is an exaggeration even from a radically leftist and navel-gazing liberal perspective.”
Deutsch said in the interview that even decent leftist and liberals raise their voice against this practice, stressing that he was not speaking about action against racism or the fight for equality, but whether it is acceptable to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus in the name of these ideas.
“In my opinion, this goes beyond poetic license and is more akin to the systemic attacks against the global cultural heritage of Mao Zedung’s China during the Cultural Revolution,” Deutsch said. As another example of this skewed perspective, he mentioned the case in which an 1975 episode of the British comedy TV show Fawlty Towers, known as “The Germans”, was temporarily removed from the BBC’s own streaming service because it contained “racial slurs”.
“This is exactly the same logic that has led to the temporary removal of an otherwise quite funny and entertaining episode of Fawlty Towers, in which an obviously senile Major — in an ironic portrayal of racism — mentions black people as ‘n****rs'”.
Other streaming services have also targeted classic films and series, with HBO announcing it was removing eight-time Oscar winner “Gone With The Wind” from library.
Deutsch also said that for many Central Europeans, the current phenomenon was reminiscent of the region’s communist dictatorships against the respective national historical heritages of their respective nations.
“At that time, in accordance with the text of ‘The International’, they were acting to ‘remove the old tradition’ once and for all,” Deutsch said. “They also toppled statues. Naturally, they also attempted to rewrite the history of Hungary, Poland, and the Czech nation or Czechoslovakia, in an unbelievably unjust and selective manner. It was quite frightening.”
As Western Europe and the United States deal with a wave of attacks on cultural history and destruction of statues following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Central Europe has seen little destruction. The Czech Republic dealt with one incident involving the defacement of a Winston Churchill statute in Prague, but politicians across the political spectrum roundly condemned the act.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has instituted a commission to review all landmarks in London and ensure they comply with “diversity” following a protest from Black Lives Matter in which individuals vandalized a statue of famed wartime leader Winston Churchill.
“When you look at the public realm – street names, street squares, murals – not only are there some of the slavers that I think should be taken down, and the commission will advise us on that, but we don’t have enough representation of people of color, black people, women, those from the LGBT community,” Khan said to Sky News.
An increasingly long list is now featured on Wikipedia documenting the statues that have been removed following George Floyd protests in a sign that the United States is increasingly erasing its cultural history. Just yesterday, high school students tore down a statue of Thomas Jefferson in Portland, Oregon.
Title image: In this June 10, 2020, photo, a statue of Belgium’s King Leopold II is smeared with paint and graffiti in the center of Brussels. With the protests sweeping the world in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, King Leopold II, who reigned from 1865 to 1909, is now increasingly seen as a stain on the nation. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)