Have We More to Fear from the Intolerance of the Illiberal Left than from any Statue?
Nothing symbolises the febrile social atmosphere that surrounds us at present more than the epidemic of ‘statue toppling’ that has attended recent protests, in particular those organised around the Black Lives Matter movement. Is this outbreak of de-memorialisation a necessary act of collective catharsis typical of any era, or does it belie a wanton historical vandalism and a rising censoriousness that threatens to define the future? In this debate, ‘Yes' argues that citizens have much more to fear from increasingly visible illiberal leftist intolerance, than they do from the recent outbreak of statue toppling. ‘No' counters that, since monuments matter for their powerful symbolism, their removal is a legitimate way to reflect the changing value systems of an evolving society. In that sense, condemning the memory of a previously valorised historical figure is a symbol of social progress, one that dramatises a determination to leave behind a flawed past from which we have all happily emigrated.