Cartoon: Destroying Statues Is Erasing History!


Please support the making of these cartoons by supporting my Patreon! Supporters got to see this cartoon back in April.


In June 2020, after demonstrators tore down a statue of Andrew Jackson, then-President Trump  “We should learn from the history. And if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again.” U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, objecting to renaming military bases named after Confederate figures, said “I just don’t think that Congress mandating that these be renamed and attempting to erase that part of our history is a way that you deal with that history.”

This idea – that removing statues and renaming bases is the same as forgetting history – is bizarrely commonplace. Apparently if a Republican is wealthy enough, they teach their children history through statues rather than using schools and books like the common folk do?

The gag in this cartoon is, I admit, pretty obvious. But I hope it’ll give some of you a chuckle, just as it did for me when I thought of it.


I tried using a different “brush” (since I draw on computer, the “brushes” are all virtual) to draw this one, hoping to end up with a looser, freer line. But I think it had the opposite effect, making the lines tighter than usual. The truth is, I’m just too much of a control freak about my lines, and it makes it hard for me to loosen up.

Of course, constantly trying to get an effect that I rarely achieve is part of what makes my job continually interesting to me. So that’s a silver lining, I guess. (Looks at the lively inkwork in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, sighs.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Two people, a woman wearing a hair band and a man with a mustache and a checkered shirt, are talking in some sort of sculpture gallery with arched doorways. All of the sculptures we see are “busts” – that is, sculptures of just the head and shoulders of various people, on pedestals. In panel one, we can make out sculptures of Lincoln and Washington.

PANEL 1

Headband and Checkered are talking angrily at each other. But they’re not angry at each other – they’re sharing their mutual anger at things happening in the world.

HAIRBAND: Removing “racist” statues is terrible. We shouldn’t forget the past!

CHECKERED: Exactly!

PANEL 2

The man in the checkered shirt waves his arms as he makes a point. His hand bumps a bust of George Washington, knocking it over.

CHECKERED: They’re not just removing statues – they’re erasing history!

PANEL 3

The two of them both flinch away from the statue as it crashes to the floor. We can see little  shattered pieces of the statue, including a nose and mouth, bouncing up from the floor. The checkered shirt man looks especially distressed, holding his hands to either side of his face.

CHECKERED: Oh no! The bust of George Washington!

PANEL 4

The two of them are looking down at the floor – presumably at the shattered remains of the statue – and looking puzzled.

HAIRBAND: George who?

CHECKERED: Um… I don’t know.

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc.. Bookmark the permalink. 

23 Responses to Cartoon: Destroying Statues Is Erasing History!

  1. 1
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Very nice – but it took me a moment to get the gag. When first reading I thought it was a different joke – not that destroying the busy literally made the two people forget, but rather that they were actually ignorant of history all along, and had no idea who George Washington was.

    This definitely aligns with some of the statue controversies here in the UK, where protestors demand the removal of statues of obscure slave traders, and counter protestors insist they are important historical records even though when interviewed they have no idea who the person was.

  2. 2
    Görkem says:

    @Eytan: I had exactly the same experience re: getting the gag

  3. 3
    David Simon says:

    Same here, I didn’t actually get the joke until I came back here and read the comments above.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    I visited New Orleans about 3 years ago. I was rather surprised to see a rotary (you call them “traffic circles” or “roundabouts” in other parts of the U.S.) with a large statue of Robert E. Lee on a pedestal in the middle of it.

    Sometime a year or so ago the N.O. City Council voted to take it down, and down it came. That works for me.

    What does NOT work for me is when a mob tears a statue down in a public park while the Mayor tells the police to stand back and do nothing and then orders other statues taken down without a vote purely on the basis of threats from anonymous people that they’re going to do it again. A democratic vote put those statues up. Nothing but a democratic vote should take them down. To do otherwise is to let violence overcome democracy, which is a hallmark of fascism.

  5. 5
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    I was rather surprised to see a rotary (you call them “traffic circles” or “roundabouts” in other parts of the U.S.) …

    Those are terrible names. We call them “death cookies” here in Portland.

  6. 6
    Görkem says:

    Uh oh guys, turns out this doesn’t work for RonF.

    Better go home and rethink it all.

  7. 7
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    To be fair to RonF, Görkem, mobs tearing down statues in American cities while mayors ordering the police to stand back and do nothing is a tremendous problem. In the last 3 months alone America has lost nearly 40% of its statuary to woke mobs.

    Note 1: I would like to point out the hilarity of the belief that a mayor ordering the police to stand back and do nothing is effective. Our police tear gassed our mayor last year.

    Note 2: Does RonF really believe that we should still have legal slavery if we weren’t able to get a democratic vote to abolish it? Does that mean that RonF thinks we should still be an English colony since we didn’t have a democratic vote to become an independent nation? Does that mean that since gun control laws have been implemented via democratic means that RonF believes it was wrong for the Supreme Court (or any court) to overrule those laws? Help! I’ve been sent down a spiral of spurious logical conjecture by RonF’s position on removal of statues.

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    It’s a problem in Chicago. The statue of Christopher Columbus got taken down in the middle of the night because fascist mobs vandalized it and attempted to tear it down twice. The second time the police were ordered to stand by and not stop them, but the statue defied them (turns out a bunch of people with ropes was insufficient). So the Mayor had it taken down. Then she had two other statues of him taken down – all without a vote. Understand that they were put UP because of a City Council vote. The way Chicago operates you can’t put a sign up for your business on a Chicago city street unless (a) that ward’s alderman approves and (b) an ordinance is approved by the entire City Council. That latter is normally a catch-all that approves dozens of signs at once. But taking one down apparently is up to the Mayor, and all you need to do is start a couple of riots; that legitimizes setting aside the democratic process.

    Last time I checked there WAS a vote in Congress to get rid of slavery and it was ratified by the States. Yeah, there was a little thing called the (rather un)Civil War, but by the time that ended there was a consensus among the winners as to what should be done that frankly did not exist before it.

    You might recall that the premise of the American Revolution was that we in fact were NOT allowed to vote; Great Britain refused to allow us to have representatives in Parliament and the King thereof overruled our own legislatures arbitrarily. See the Declaration of Independence for details.

    As far as gun control laws – or any other law – goes, all laws in the U.S. are subject to review against the Constitution, which was adopted democratically. Perhaps you are confusing rights with privileges. Rights that the Constitution explicitly requires the Federal government to protect are still able to be set aside in a democratic fashion – it takes more than a simple majority in a municipal or State legislature to do so, but it’s still a democratic process.

    Tell me this; are you in favor of statues being taken down – or buildings renamed or any other changes being made – because a riotous mob insists upon it? Do you think that if a mob attempts to deface or destroy a public memorial that the police should prevent it or permit it to happen? Or do you think that should be dependent on your own personal approval of that memorial (say, Christopher Columbus vs. George Floyd)?

  9. 9
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Please note, RonF, that the question was

    Does RonF really believe that we should still have legal slavery if we weren’t able to get a democratic vote to abolish it?

    and not, “Was there a democratic vote to abolish slavery?” It’s a subtle but very important difference.

    Furthermore, I’ll say that the question was

    Does that mean that RonF thinks we should still be an English colony since we didn’t have a democratic vote to become an independent nation?

    And not, “Was not being allowed a democratic vote a valid reason for declaring independence?” It’s another subtle, yet important, difference.

    After all, you did say (as I understand it) that nothing but a democratic vote should allow change. But maybe I misunderstood you and you only meant that in relation to statuary.

  10. 10
    Görkem says:

    Crimes of fascism, as per 2021

    1) Unprovoked invasion of neighbouring countries
    2) Torture
    3) Forced resettlement
    4) Execution camps
    5) Removing statues

  11. 11
    Kate says:

    The statue of Christopher Columbus got taken down in the middle of the night because fascist mobs vandalized it and attempted to tear it down twice.

    All the news reports I’ve been able to find describe the people who attempted to take the statues down as BLM protesters, or the like. I’ve been able to find no evidence that there were fascists among them. Tearing down statues is no more proof of being fascist than marching, or making the trains run on time. Like most humans, fascists do a lot of things that are unobjectionable, or just a bit wrong. But, those characteristics are incidental. As Görkem @10’s list shows, the salient features are particularly nasty, and tearing down statues doesn’t even come close.

    After all, you did say (as I understand it) that nothing but a democratic vote should allow change. But maybe I misunderstood you and you only meant that in relation to statuary.

    lol, good one!

  12. 12
    Görkem says:

    “I’ve been able to find describe the people who attempted to take the statues down as BLM protesters, or the like. I’ve been able to find no evidence that there were fascists among them.”

    I mean it is pretty clear from this discussion alone, let alone his general comments here, that Ron considers BLM a fascist movement following a fascist ideology.

    The steelmanned version of Ron’s argument, I guess, is not that removing statues is explicitly fascist – after all, he admits that if the city council decides to remove them he is OK with it (it is not clear whether he requires a referendum on this specific issue or he is OK with a duly elected city council passing it by a council vote, but we will leave that).

    But even if we agree that protest groups altering municipal landscaping without involving city government is bad, it seems hilarious to say that it is so bad it ranks alongside invading Albania or banning certain ethnicities from holding certain jobs, let alone the even worse things that fascists are, ahem, well known for doing. The steelmanned version of Ron’s argument is very procedural, that following the correct procedures for areas that fall within the normal competency of city government is more important than the proper outcome. Proceduralism is not necessarily always wrong, e.g. we probably all agree that even if somebody deserves to be sent to jail for sexual assault, it’s not a good idea for a protest movement to take them there on their own initiative before the trial begins. But defining fascism as failure to follow correct procedure is so hyperbolic I just can’t even get mad about it, it’s just amusing. It’s like saying that corporations being given unjustified breaks on their municipal taxes is fascism because fascists favour the military-industrial complex (and yes, I am sure somebody out there on the left has said that, and yes I would find it equally silly, and will be happy to chortle if you can point me to it).

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    it is not clear whether he requires a referendum on this specific issue or he is OK with a duly elected city council passing it by a council vote

    Whatever is in accordance with the particular city’s laws is fine by me. Chicago (and I forget whether this was by vote of the City Council or by an executive order from the Mayor) has created a commission to look at ALL the public monuments in Chicago and make recommendations as to whether they should be retained, removed, relocated, and if not removed have some fashion of additional context added. My guess is that one that will definitely go is the masonry column on the lakefront donated by Mussolini to Chicago and dedicated to Italo Balbo, a highly skilled aviator (he flew from Rome to Chicago back when that was a notable feat) and noted Fascist leader. Chicago also renamed 7th Avenue to Balbo Drive in his honor.

    Chicago street names are not in the commission’s ambit but I bet that comes next. There’s a lot of crooks and racists (by no means mutually exclusive classifications in Chicago history) that have streets and other things named after them in Chicago.

    I find it pretty interesting that everyone is talking about what I consider fascist but no one has actually answered the question I asked:

    Tell me this; are you in favor of statues being taken down – or buildings renamed or any other changes being made – because a riotous mob insists upon it?

  14. 14
    Kate says:

    Tell me this; are you in favor of statues being taken down – or buildings renamed or any other changes being made – because a riotous mob insists upon it?

    Of course not. But, nor will I deny a just request solely because some of its supporters got violent. Taking down statues of racist historical figures and renaming buildings, roads, bases and the like named after them is a good thing. Moreover, taking down racist statues doesn’t hurt anyone. It was foolish to risk the safety of police officers to defend a statue. The police should have been permitted to retreat to safety, and give the protesters space to calm down and disperse. Police know how to peacefully deescalate situations when they actually respect the rights of the people protesting, like the police in Michigan did with the anti-mask protesters at the state capital. I approved of the way that was handled, even though I strongly disagree with those protesters, and they were much more dangerous than the protesters in Chicago, because they were armed with actual guns and a threat to the legislators within.
    I also do believe that protest, and civil disobedience have an important place in progress towards true equality and justice in our society. Whether they are right or wrong depends on whether the laws being protested, the causes being advanced, are just or unjust.
    The January 6th insurrectionists were clearly a riotous mob. Nothing BLM protesters have done has come close to that level of violence and threat. Still, most Republicans disagree, I think for two reasons. The first is that the January 6th mob are on their side. The BLM protesters are not (and a huge part of that is racism). But, that’s not all it is. Ta-Nehisi Coats is the only person I’ve heard actually say it (it was on Chris Hayes’ pod cast, I think)…If Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election were true, what were they to do? Just ignore it? No, if Trump’s claims were true, the level of violence required to restore democratic elections would absolutely be justified.
    Three things made January 6th indefensible. First, they went beyond the level of violence necessary when they threatened to summarily execute the vice president and members of congress. Second, they had no intention of restoring democratic elections. They were – and many still are – intent on establishing Republican autocratic rule. And third, they were wrong. The election had been free and fair. They lost, as proven by non-partisan state level audits, many of which were overseen by Republican elected officials and upheld by judicial decisions, including many by judges appointed by Republicans. They just refuse to accept reality.

  15. 15
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    I find it pretty interesting that everyone is talking about what I consider fascist but no one has actually answered the question I asked:

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  16. 16
    Görkem says:

    “everyone is talking about what I consider fascist but no one has actually answered the question I asked”

    We are not actually under any obligation to have the conversation that you want to have, let alone to specifically answer the questions that you ask that are, to say the least, framed in a way that emphasises your point.

    Or alternatively, we are a virtue-signaling morass of fuzzy-minded left wing snowflakes who just cannot handle the white-hot intellectual rigour of your rational conservative debate and flee in terror before your Jovian arrows of incisive rhetorical inquiry! It’s your call!

  17. 17
    RonF says:

    Kate:

    Of course not.

    Good. I wonder if everyone else here agrees.

    But, nor will I deny a just request solely because some of its supporters got violent.

    Nor would I. The fact that some supporters of a political position or candidate act in an illegal fashion does not discredit the position or candidate itself. Of course, I extend the same consideration to those on the right as well as on the left.

    Moreover, taking down racist statues doesn’t hurt anyone.

    I suspect Mr. Chris Green would disagree. An untrained and ill-equipped mob attempting to destroy public property endangers public safety.

    It was foolish to risk the safety of police officers to defend a statue.

    They were defending public safety. They were also defending the rule of law vs. mob rule, which is important.

    The January 6th insurrectionists were clearly a riotous mob. Nothing BLM protesters have done has come close to that level of violence and threat.

    The mob of 1/6 should of course be prosecuted for any crimes they committed. But while I can agree that BLM protesters haven’t caused that kind of thing that neglects taking into account BLM rioters. In Chicago alone – I select it because I live nearby and followed what was going on in more detail – scores of businesses were smashed open, looted and a few even set on fire, even in the main downtown shopping district. More than a dozen people were shot. Three died. Dozens of police officers were injured (and one off-duty officer was killed) through assaults and by thrown projectiles. The current estimate is that there was at least $120 million in losses during BLM riots.

    And that’s just Chicago. Nationwide I’ve seen a report that over $2 billion in damage was done, and that doesn’t account for shootings, beatings and deaths.

  18. 18
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Nationwide I’ve seen a report that over $2 billion in damage was done, and that doesn’t account for shootings, beatings and deaths.

    We’ve had shootings, beatings and deaths of statues?

    Now that you’re back, would you mind answering the questions I actually asked you instead of complaining that people won’t answer your questions?

  19. 19
    hf says:

    They lost, as proven by non-partisan state level audits, many of which were overseen by Republican elected officials and upheld by judicial decisions, including many by judges appointed by Republicans. They just refuse to accept reality.

    Well now, let’s not be uncharitable. They know perfectly well that, eg, The Loser Donald Trump won’t be reinstated as President. That’s just a hasty attempt to stir up violence as a deterrent to prosecution.

    Likewise, even the woman who was filmed on Jan 6 – expressing shock at a “revolution” meeting resistance from the authorities – even she didn’t believe the literal meaning of the traitors’ claims. Her actions and her shock were inconsistent with the hypothesis that she believed she was opposing a powerful conspiracy, one capable of faking so much evidence that The Loser’s own administration certified Biden’s win. Rather, she believed she could overturn the election through violence.

    Indeed, she was factually correct about one of her beliefs, when many of us were wrong. The Pentagon – which employs wizards at Natural Language Processing, according to my Mom the test developer – tried multiple times to reach the leadership of Capitol police, and offer them help. Those people at the Pentagon falsely believed their help would be accepted. The FBI – which isn’t where you go for intelligence – likewise saw the insurrection coming, and thought they could get Capitol police leadership to do their jobs. Random people on Twitter, as I recall, were saying weeks ahead of time, “Don’t go to DC for counter-protests. Let the cops and Trump supporters fight it out.”

    All of those people held factually false beliefs about the leadership of Capitol police fulfilling their oaths. Since the aforementioned woman from the video made a correct prediction when so many others were wrong, I can understand her surprise when this didn’t carry her far enough.

  20. 20
    hf says:

    The USSR was, shall we say, rather harsh when they took segments of Germany at the end of World War II. Then they put up victory monuments in Eastern European countries, to commemorate the time when those countries were invaded by the USSR. It’s sort of like the Confederate victory monuments put up to commemorate the end of the occupation, and the successful creation of Jim Crow.

    I would guess that few conservatives would insist the USSR victory monuments had to remain for the sake of history, if people who suffered under Communism objected to this. Indeed, it would be somewhat odd to claim that unauthorized removal by the public was beyond the pale – unless there’s a fine distinction between monuments and walls that I’m failing to see.

    Disclaimer: this comment was written while drunk and immunocompromised.

  21. 21
    Eytan Zweig says:

    hf @19 – I’m so glad there weren’t significant counter-protests at DC, despite the failings of the police. If there were, then it wouldn’t just be the conspiracy minded that would argue all the actual crimes were committed by the left. All the blame for everything that went wrong would have fallen directly on the counter-protesters.

  22. 22
    hf says:

    @21 Fully agree, but let’s be precise here. Many of the police remembered their oaths. In the real world – rather than some hypothetical – the insurrection failed because a few officers took determined, sometimes clever action, and prevented the traitors from holding members of Congress at gunpoint.

    Also, while we’re being precise, a false claim that “all the actual crimes were committed by the left” would still have been “conspiracy minded,” since it would still have flown in the face of abundant evidence. It would just have been more socially respectable.

  23. 23
    Eytan Zweig says:

    @22 – Thanks for the point about the police – when I mentioned the failings of the police, I meant institutional ones, not individual failings.

    I want to push back against your second point, though – there’s a difference between lies and wilful misinterpretations, and conspiracy theories. At the moment, conspiracy theories are necessary in order to pin the events of Jan 6 on the left, since there’s no other way to do so. If anti-Trump protestors were actually there, and some of them were pictured engaged in violence conflict with the right, then you wouldn’t need a conspiracy, just dishonesty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *