‘Should we honour slave traders with statues?’
Opinion piece by Councillor Dan Stewart
Three Dr Seuss titles will no longer be published and there is an outcry of “cancel culture”.
There are still about 60 Dr Seuss titles.
Some people decry cancel culture as something new.
But when my children were growing up people wanted to ban the Harry Potter books.
Censorship is a form of cancel culture. Back in the 1960s some DH Lawrence books were banned from Australia.
In fact book burnings go back centuries, with churches leading the way in banning books and killing or banning people who thought differently.
“Cancel culture” is also a complaint about pulling down statues of discredited figures, or of changing history.
But should we honour slave traders with statues?
Should Russia had left statues of Lenin and Stalin standing, should Germany have let Nazi symbols be?
A symbol of Nazi power, the Nuremberg rally grounds, have been turned into a museum decrying those historical events.
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There cancel culture (cancelling Nazi power) teaches us important lessons.
History does not change, many would say. But how one person views a historical event is very different to how another person views the same event.
Captain James Cook had three great voyages of exploration. Those on his ship were most likely the first Europeans to have sighted the east coast of Australia.
However other people had already seen the east coast of Australia.
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They lived there, they knew its bays and bush, they knew its fish and animals, its fertile parts where there was plenty of food and the areas that produced little.
Yes we can celebrate Cook as a great European explorer. To say he did not discover the east coast is a revision of traditional history, but it reflects reality.
We all censor what books we read, we all stop following certain Facebook groups, we all have our differing views on past events.
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Cancel culture has been here ever since humans started thinking and said no to someone else.
What has also been here is respecting others for their views and ideas.
Even if we disagree with another, even if we want to “cancel” opposite things, we can still respect each other as persons.