A Warning About History Erasure

URI-MemorialUnionMural-featured

In keeping with this morning’s post about “anti-racism,” WJAR reports today that the University of Rhode Island is preparing to erase a mural that has graced the walls of the Memorial Union for seven decades:

When veterans returned from World War II and enrolled at URI, they and other URI community members raised money in memory of those who lost their lives in the war.

Money raised was for a modern student union, which gave it the name, Memorial Union.

[Artist] Arthur “Art” Sherman was a decorated returning veteran and member of the class of 1950…

The murals depict servicemen returning to Kingston, a class reunion, URI commencement, a South County beach scene, and students piled into a jalopy wearing letter sweaters.

The story creates a vivid contrast in real life that mirrors popular social media memes comparing 18-year-olds who went to war in that era with the 18-year-olds going to college in ours:

“I have received complaints about the murals that portray a very homogeneous population predominately the persons painted and depicted on the wall are predominantly white and that does not represent who our institution is today,” said [Vice President of Student Affairs, Kathy] Collins. “Some of our students have even shared with us they didn’t feel comfortable sitting in that space.”

The problem, here, isn’t so much the removal of the mural.  As Sherman says (while demurring from stating his feelings about removal of his art), “time goes by and things change.”  The problem is the motivation and the approach.

In a word, the move is negatory, not additive.  We’re raising generations of children who, as young adults, can be made uncomfortable by a fun scene from the ’50s, and their solution is to complain.  Then, the administration’s solution is to capitulate and respond by erasing the history.

How many creative alternatives could be found if our society were not so far deteriorated?  Imagine if alumni from multiple generations of URI graduates were invited to paint their own characters on Plexiglas that would be attached to the wall to add them to the mural.  Or maybe free-standing statues or two-dimensional figures could be added throughout the space that produce a complete picture when viewed from a particular angle.  Or maybe, the art could become interactive, like one of those old puzzles where different layers of drawings can be placed over others to create still-coherent, but sometimes humorous or meaningful hybrids.  No doubt, multiple creative people could come up with better ideas.

And if a portion of the original mural had to give way to make space for the modification, objections would be minimal because of the wholly different angle from which the change was approached.

The principle we desperately need to reclaim is this:  While we shouldn’t set the past in immutable stone as if it was perfect and inviolable, erasing it should not be our default choice.



  • Northern Exposure

    The modern concept of progress is only achieved through destruction.

  • ShannonEntropy

    So The Left keeps teeling us that “White Genocide” is a “myth” or a “white supremacist conspiracy theory”… https://bit.ly/359h5Rh

    … but then a story like this comes along, where they are literally trying to erase any trace of White culture

    I personally won’t take part in the RaHoWa when it arrives — as current events keep pushing us closer and closer to the day that it does arrive — but you can’t blame us White folks for starting it

    • Lou

      Interesting. That’s what the artwork means to you…”white culture”? That’s telling.

      Did you knowingly post a link here?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_genocide_conspiracy_theory

      Disturbing.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        I read through your link, and I must say it was “artfully” worded. I was drawn to the section on Rhodesia. The article refers to “communist guerillas” as though that were part of some myth. Believe me the soviets armed both the ZANLA and the ZIPRA. Providing everything from small arms to SAM missiles. China also provided arms to the ZIPRA.

      • ShannonEntropy

        The artwork is being attacked and the demands that it be removed are 100% based on the fact that it depicts White people

        That’s basically ‘White Genocide’ in cultural terms, and that is what should be “disturbing” to you. But as a POC you can’t possibly understand that

    • Rhett Hardwick

      RaHoWa, watch the net for “Boogaloo”.

      • ShannonEntropy

        I already have a buncha Hawaiian shirts and all the gear & weapons I need if I ever want to join the Boogaloos

        But I think I’ll sit this one out. My theory is that agents provocateur from the FBI are setting those guys up to totally discredit any White attempt to salvage our culture

        Did you see where The DHS has declared White Supremacy the #1 terror threat in America ?? Surely they jest but in fact they are deadly serious… and I do mean “deadly”

        https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/04/white-supremacists-terror-threat-dhs-409236

        • Rhett Hardwick

          I read through the article you linked; I suspect “cherry picking” but do not have at hand any numbers to refute it. I think I mentioned here that more than a month ago I was driving through Norton, MA and noticed an industrial building flying the flag of the Culpepper Militia. I have a friend in the Culpepper Militia, she tells me that she knows of no plan to expand their group beyond the borders of Culpepper County. I suppose I fall in with those who have the most guns and know which bathroom to use.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “If you can read this bumper sticker,
    Thank a teacher.
    If you are reading this in English,
    Thank a Vet.”

  • Rhett Hardwick

    BLM, Antifa, and others, much like the Nazis, are not espousing a philosophy, they are uttering platitudes. This permits the faithful to read in any meaning they wish. And, that is what is happening. To be fair, I see the Republicans constantly referring to “the work”, without ever defining it. I recall that Obama had such an undefined catch phrase, but I fear it has already escaped me.