The New Iconoclasts
In short, the Sir John A. McDonald statue should not have been removed.
It should be placed back in its original spot, spruced up and highlighted as a great piece of our shared Canadian heritage. Every politician has policies with which at least some people disagree. This does not mean we should remove, destroy, or erase that history. The legacy of founding a country is the shared essence of who we are as citizens. To remove it is to essentially say that we are ashamed of those who formed a magnificent country. This is strange as many millions of people continue to vote with their feet to come to this great country and revere it for many varied reasons. How can this be a country whose founder is to now reviled by a few in a small, small minority, and revered by so many more, and yet the small, small minority (who still wish for the protection and creature comforts that this country provides the basis of) will overrule the majority opinion that this country is essentially a wonderful place? It boggles the mind of a rational person, except for the fact that so many or the majority want to sit in silence and not suffer the verbal (and other) slings and arrows from this most vocal and voracious small, small minority.
I do have a theory of why this is coming to pass. (Note that this theory has been stated by many others and is not my original idea). It is a modern-day iconoclastic episode (Iconoclast definition from Merriam-Webster: 1. a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions;2. a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration. Entomology: Medieval Latin iconoclastes, from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, literally, image destroyer, from Greekeikono- + klan to break) . Just as in the reformation of Europe, people wanted to replace one religion with a reformed religion. After that, the counter-reformation ensued as well against this reform. During this, many symbols or icons of these religions and past history were destroyed on purpose in an attempt to erase any knowledge, image, or structure of the specific religion and the culture which surrounded it. In the PRC, during the Cultural Revolution, an iconoclasm of public artwork (among many other things) took place. This also happened with ISIS in their expansion of territory throughout Syria and northern Iraq. Rutelli (2016) more eloquently describes this return of iconoclasm of ISIS. It is no wonder if this is what is happening that many would prefer to sit in silence or 'fold up their tents' 'and as silently steal away.' (Longsfellow H., The Day is Done)
To appease vocal minority groups (and to better appreciate our history), more statues, more culture, and more discussion about history should occur. If there is one thing that this statue incident should reveal, it is that we need to be making a concerted effort to better memorialize citizens of our great country, for all their faults and failings (as you will find no citizen who someone, somewhere will not in them find fault). If we let mob rule occur where a few (2-10) people can damage civic property without charges for at least mischief, you are also letting the rule of law cat out of the bag. This is when chaos and anarchy can start. And once that ball starts rolling, the city will empty as those with the means will flee to rural or suburban areas away from the violence and property damage. I do hold out great hope for our city; however, to shrug this off as a tempest in a teapot may be to underestimate the gravity of what might unfold slowly over time as the city center continues to decay.
With all this said, I have given my opinion. Put the statue back in its original place, build many more statues, and uphold the rule of law with every citizen. I do not envy the position of civil servants or civic leaders as these are muddy waters through which to wade; however, it is the responsibility for which you elected to take on.
I wish you, the elected officials and those in the general public, well in your deliberations upon the matter.
Rutelli F. (2016) The Return of Iconoclasm: Barbarian Ideology and Destruction by ISIS as a Challenge for Modern Culture, Not Only for Islam. In: Charney N. (eds) Art Crime. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-40757-3_12
Consultation has concluded