England’s War of the Posers
This just in from the front: Boris Johnson has surrendered to Sadiq Khan
English Heritage will review all 950 of the blue plaques it maintains across London for “problematic connotations.”
The body maintains London’s ‘blue plaques’ on the exterior of buildings were famous and historical figures have lived or worked. The scheme was started in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the world.
English Heritage told The Times that while it has no current intention to remove plaques belonging to those deemed racist or having connections to the slave trade, it will be adding “contextualising digital content” online, likely detailing the historical figures’ sins…
The newspaper of record speculates that one blue plaque which could be subject to ‘digital contextualising’ is that of Field Marshal Montgomery who defeated the Nazis at El Alamein, because of his pro-colonial rhetoric. Author Daniel Defoe, who held shares in the slave-trading Royal African Company, could also be branded with the digital Scarlet Letter…
Blue plagues, as well as statues and street names, will be reviewed by the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm — an Orwellian-sounding body that Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched last week.
The Conservative government has also announced its own social justice audit, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would “look at all aspects of inequality – in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life”.
Johnson and Donald Trump haven’t distinguished themselves on the sacred subject of history over the past two weeks. Unlike M. Macron. The President of France manfully told his nation no statues or monuments (physical and otherwise) would be destroyed on his watch. From that attitudinal redoubt, he assured citizens of all creeds and colours that the work of building a more perfect republic would go on. Very sound.
Johnson and Trump took the nearly opposite approach: they first conceded there is a real issue to ‘address’ – in the irritating parlance of these morally subjective times – and then beat their chests about the safe subjects of Churchill’s statue and the names of army bases. President Trump went so far as to presume George Floyd was “looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country.” Really? Why didn’t someone think of burning, looting, destroying and murdering sooner, Mr President? Here, Scott Morrison’s oh-so Liberal Party response to the barbarism afoot was jaded, gormless utilitarianism of the tiresomely familiar via media variety: “I’m not interested in what shows get cancelled. I’m not interested in what statues get torn down.” Scotty from marketing is not interested.