Washington | The wind of rebellion against the monuments in honour of the figures of slavery in the United States now threatens up to historical figures of the nation, long considered to be untouchable.
The protest movement after the death of the black American George Floyd, asphyxiated by a white policeman at the end of may, has reopened the debate around monuments historically linked to slavery, several of which have been knocked down or vandalized.
It is “a battle over the narrative of american history through the statues”, analysis for the AFP Carolyn Gallaher is a professor at the American University in Washington dc.
“In the South, we chose to venerate the confederates, and the protesters say +it is finished+”, she said.
In Virginia, where they erected the first English settlers before becoming the heart of American slavery, the protesters have been demanding the déboulonnage of the statue of the commander-in-chief of the army of the south, general Robert Lee.
The statue, whose pedestal was covered in graffiti, anti-racism, throne for a century on a place of Richmond, the capital of the confederate States during the american Civil war (1861-1865).
In Washington, a statue in tribute to general of the south Albert Pike has been put down and degraded on Friday night.
In the square in front of the White House, protesters attempted Monday to take down the statue of the controversial american president Andrew Jackson with the aid of long ropes, before being dispersed by police with tear gas.
And the characters are the most iconic in american history are no longer at the shelter.
“A form of veneration”
The third U.s. president, Thomas Jefferson, is the target of some protesters who vandalized several monuments to the representative.
Because if it was one of the authors of the Declaration of independence, he was the owner of over 600 slaves, and believed that black men were inferior to the white, reminiscent of the internet site of his former plantation, now a museum at Monticello, Virginia.
“Many of his statues should be put to earth,” said last week in Newsweek Shannon LaNier. It is one of the descendants of Sally Hemings, a slave with whom Thomas Jefferson had several children.
The view of the statues “the master of your slave ancestors, a murderer, or a white supremacist” is “a pain beyond the imaginable” for many African-Americans, ” he says.
Even the father of the american nation and its first president, George Washington, is not untouchable, because he owned over a hundred slaves in his plantation of Mount Vernon, to the south of the federal city that bears his name.
“To install a statue in the public space, it is a form of veneration, and a lot of people are asking today why we venerate people who owned slaves,” says Carolyn Gallaher.
For it, even if the distinction and clarity between the general Lee and the two founding fathers, “they owned all of the slaves, this is what bothers the most people”. She pointed out that several heroes of the independence were called into question “the morals of slavery”.
At the museum
For Daniel Domingues, associate professor of history at Rice university in Houston, “each monument, Jefferson should be put in context with a plate or an explanatory sign”.
More expeditious manner, the city of New York is going to remove a statue of the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, placed at the entrance of the american Museum of natural history, because of its views considered colonialist and racist, a decision strongly criticized by Donald Trump.
The bronze statue shows “Teddy” Roosevelt sitting on a horse overlooking a black man and a Native american walking on foot by his side.
The museum explained on Sunday that “the representation of characters of african and native american and their positioning within this monument is a racist”.
As noted by the website of the place, Teddy Roosevelt was considered a progressive champion of the environment at the beginning of the 20th century, but he defended also racist views.
“Where is the limit: from Gandhi to George Washington ?”, denounced Monday the spokesman of the White House, Kayleigh McEnany.
Mr. Trump, a staunch defender of the monuments to the confederates, and has in the past felt that their disappearance would “dismantle” the history and american culture.
But “remove the statues, this doesn’t remove the past, this should be considered as part of the story”, told AFP Daniel Domingues, believing that american history “is preserved in books and in museums”.
Carolyn Gallaher, who grew up in Virginia, chimed in: “people do not learn history with statues, they will learn about the life of George Washington, even without the statue of him”.