IO – The Great Statue Dismantling Movement in the US has now reached its apogee: They are demolishing the Thomas Jefferson Memorial!
You heard me right: That Jefferson in Washington D.C. That monument constructed to honor America’s founding father Thomas Jefferson.
“Bring that memorial down! Put Harriet Tubman’s statue in its place,” said Lucian K. Truscott IV passionately in America’s number one daily, The New York Times, last week.
Who is this author Lucian? How dare he? And who is Harriet Tubman, that he would consider her to be even greater than America’s founding father?
Lucian is a best-selling novelist whose novels, Dress Gray and Full Dress Gray, rule the New York Times list for weeks. He is a retired military officer who is infamous for protesting the long-standing rule that “all military officers must attend church every Sunday.” He won the battle against this unconstitutional rule, and now church attendance is voluntary in the military.
But most importantly, he is actually a descendant of Thomas Jefferson the proclaimer.
And there we have it: The moon always has a dark side, and the sun always has its shadow. Jefferson kept a black “mistress”, Sally Hemings. It’s not the correct term, because she was really his property according to the laws at the time, and Jefferson made use of her as a bed warmer like you would allow your dog to sleep with you on your bed because it’s comfortable. And if your favorite dog happens to have puppies, you simply feed them and take care of them. So that’s how he treated her and her six children by him.
Jefferson kept hundreds of slaves to serve him at home, in his plantations, and in his factories all his life. Even when he proclaimed that all citizens have equal rights, Jefferson kept slaves and proclaim them to be lower than whites and therefore not counted as citizens. Despite having fathered half-blood children through Hemings, he spoke out against mixing races. His descendants continued to keep slaves until it is formally abolished – more than 100 after America’s independence.
“But is it enough reason to demolish Thomas Jefferson’s memorial?”
This is the biggest debate in America nowadays. President Donald Trump is clearly against the demolition of these statues because he considers it to be “fascistic”. However, these demolitions continue despite his having threatened harsh legal punishments for it.
Will Harriet Tubman’s statue stand in place of the Monticello?
Tubman is a very famous abolitionist. A slave girl born to a slave woman in Maryland, a stone’s throw away from Washington DC, Tubman grew up enduring spits and verbal abuses and beatings from her masters and their minions. A strong woman, Tubman lived a long life and only died in 2013 in New York at the age of 91.
All the beatings she suffered damaged little Tubman’s nerves. She battled with hypersomnia – the need to sleep all the time – all her life. However, her mind became more acute and unexpected in turn. She grew a psychic-like ability to play out scenarios in her head, to see things ahead through her dreams, and to remember maps perfectly just by taking one look.
Tubman was fearless and religious: She ran away from her masters to Philadelphia and evaded many death threats. She had a strong belief in God and prayed to Him constantly according to her Methodist faith. With her faith and abilities, she snuck back in to Maryland to free her parents. She also helped her neighbors and everyone else who wish to escape slavery. She somehow managed to ferry them in the middle of the night, right under the noses of slave drivers, towards safety in the North. She defied guns and whips and fierce dogs to get hundreds of black slaves away towards their freedom. She was so successful in her efforts that people call her “Moses” for saving so many of her people against the “Pharaoh” of white slaveowners. Her popularity in America and her contribution towards her country is about the same as Jefferson.
However, it is undeniable that both the white man and black woman are part of America’s history. They are what made America, America. Like us in Indonesia, America is also a country of many diversities that are dividing cruelly. One must not deny history – it happened, it is part of what a country is. We should acknowledge the bad things and good things both, and respect their places in history.
I personally can only hope that America can return to being America the free, the melting pot known to the world as a place for acceptance, no matter who you are and where you’re from. And I likewise hope the same for Indonesia.