Christopher Columbus says, “Don’ta trust you mayor.”
He means Mayor Gutless, who has punted the issue of the statue of the Italian explorer/criminal (your choice) to Philadelphia’s Art Commission.
“That’sa what he said about the statue of Francesco Rizzo, says Columbus, “but he move it in the middle of the night, like a Norweigan rat, atsa right.”
Sorry for the broken English.
While the Art Commission is studying the problem, which is part of a “public process,” Mayor Jim Kenney said the statue in South Philly’s Marconi Park will be placed in a protective box.
Yeah, protective box. Out of sight, out of mind, he hopes? Then, one dark night, it disappears.
You know what? A genuine public process would be fine.
The city belongs to all the people, not to just Italians nor indigenious people. Let’s put Christopher Columbus on trial.
I am serious.
Recruit prosecutors and defense attorneys and televise it, as WHYY did with the MOVE commission years ago. Hire a panel of respected judges. The jurors? They will be Philadelphia registered voters. We believe in democracy and this is that.
Lay it all out — Columbus’ achievements, including opening the New World to colonization, which led to America, and even that is viewed as negative by some. And the charges of enslavement, murder, torture and rape on the other side. Let’s hear about aggravating and mitigating factors. The object is to determine historic truth.
Yes, I know Columbus never set foot in North America so we might not have legal jurisdiction, but this is the court of public opinion.
Let the people judge.
And that’s just for starters.
The parade starts with Columbus, then moves to Pennsylvania slaveholder and founder William Penn, whose statue has the most honored place in Philadelphia, atop City Hall. (Not everyone thinks City Hall is a place of honor.)
Moving forward in history, Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson will be in the dock, accused of holding slaves while birthing a nation.
Then Benjamin Franklin, another slaveholder.
Somebody has a beef with Walt Whitman, so we put him on trial, too. Woodrow Wilson. Ulysses S. Grant. Is there a statue somewhere of PeeWee Herman?
The people will decide, not the passionate but often ignorant grievance mongers, who defaced monuments to the Unknown Soldier of the Revolutionary War, and abolitionist Matthias Baldwin.
Let the facts come out, lock the ignorance out.
Put the statues on trial, all of them.