Erin L. Thompson’s Smashing Statues
              ​R.H. Lossin
              Amid the waves of protests against the murder of unarmed black people by the police, many more US citizens began to question the validity of statues honoring men who massacred the continent’s indigenous inhabitants, owned slaves, and otherwise profited from the suffering, exploitation, and death of mostly non-European people. Some statues were successfully pulled down by crowds, others damaged, removed under the cover of night, and placed in storage. But most of these sculptures, as Erin L. Thompson documents in her much-needed history of public monuments and social change, have been legally protected in perpetuity by state legislatures. Take for example the Confederate Memorial Carving on Stone Mountain, which is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world and depicts the heroes of the slave South Jefferson Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Robert E. Lee as they ride toward something—possibly a future in which they exercise an inordinate influence. Thompson, a specialist in art crime, has written a thoroughly researched, convincing, and readable argument for the removal of the United States’ monuments to its colonial and slave history: in doing so, her book eradicates any lingering doubts as to the wisdom of suppressing these symbolic markers of the past. Advocates of …

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