New York’s Natural History Museum has undergone significant changes during its history as scientific and archeological discoveries have changed the focus and composition of numerous halls and exhibits.
Since 1940, the entrance to the museum has featured a statue of a mounted Theodore Roosevelt flanked by a Native American man and a male African. But now, in our new woke America, Roosevelt’s statue is coming down — a tribute to ignorance and shallow thinking that has become the hallmark of those wishing to erase history. The reason given is that the statue represents slavery and “colonialism.” The real reason is that TR represents a robust and energetic Americanism that we all must feel shame for.
The New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously to remove the statue. No word if they will move the entire museum, which is located in Theodore Roosevelt Park. More likely, they’ll simply erase the name of the park and try to suppress the life and accomplishments of one of the most unique Americans who ever lived.
After more than a year of talk, it’s official: The Theodore Roosevelt statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History is coming down. https://t.co/C0jWDEheTV
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 23, 2021
That doesn’t count for much in the woke universe. Indeed, it no doubt worked against TR to have been born an American at all. Perhaps he’ll be replaced by a statue of Che Guevara.
The vote follows years of protest and adverse public reaction over the statue as a symbol of colonialism, largely because of the Native American and African men who are depicted flanking Roosevelt on a horse. Those objections led the museum in June 2020 to propose removing the statue. New York City, which owns the building and property, agreed to the suggestion, and Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his support.
In 2017, a mayoral commission set up to review city art, monuments and markers had considered historical research about the statue but could not reach a consensus on removing it.
“Height is power in public art, and Roosevelt’s stature on his noble steed visibly expresses dominance and superiority over the Native American and African figures,” the panel wrote in its report.
Or perhaps Roosevelt just looked better sitting on a horse. Any piece of art that has to come with a swollen list of instructions on how to view it and what you should think when you see it isn’t art at all. It’s propaganda.
“The understanding of statues and monuments as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism became even more evident in the wake of the movement for racial justice that emerged after the murder of George Floyd,” Dan Slippen, vice president of government relations at the museum, said at the meeting. “It has become clear that removing the statue would be a symbol of progress toward an inclusive and equitable community.”
How many black people walked by that statue every day for 80 years and were hurt by seeing it? Surely they took that into consideration? Don’t they have some poll numbers on that? How is it that they know that the statue is “hurtful”?
Intellectuals are fond of telling ordinary people “you should be hurt by this” when the reality is different. Most people see beyond the statue to the tradition represented and the beauty of the artwork.
Still, the Native American and African man who flank TR are caricatures — something we should have outgrown as a nation. Supplying context with the statue would have been appropriate.
But removing it doesn’t do anybody any good — except those who want to erase history in the name of “justice.”