Nicholas Jagdeo
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Statues and heroes

The anger of the masses being mistreated burns hot, but it also burns quickly, and pulling down statues does little, when there are more important things at hand
A worker sits down as they take down a statue of slave owner Robert Milligan at West India Quay, east London (Yui Mok/PA Wire via Jewish News)
A worker sits down as they take down a statue of slave owner Robert Milligan at West India Quay, east London (Yui Mok/PA Wire via Jewish News)

Last week, I re-read Animal Farm. I’ve been keeping up with all the changes; haven’t posted about it because I’m processing everything that’s happening in the world right now. The anger is real. I feel it, too. I feel the winds of change.

But then again, I see the mistakes in history being repeated all over again…

In Tzarist Russia, they tore down the memories of the Romanovs; which was replaced by Stalin. The French Revolution chopped off the heads of the “nobility”; which was replaced by Napoleon. The Iraqis joyfully pulled down the statue of Saadam Hussein; only to be replaced by the past seventeen years of war, terrorism and no change. The Arab Spring saw protests, anger, and the hope for change; yet Egypt only saw the replacement of one military dictator with another.

I understand the anger that brings about the pulling down of statues; my best friend put it into her words, “For me it’s as simple as heroes get statues. Not slave traders etc. While that was fine in the past, it’s not right now. I can’t imagine how a black person must feel walking by a statue of a slave owner in the middle of a park or city center. It’s time to update those relics.”

But history has shown that the anger of the masses being mistreated and pulling down statues leads to… nothing.

This anger burns hotly, but it also burns quickly.

There are more important things to focus on right now than dubious historical figures and whatever statues exist. I just see a repeat of history, and I feel the winds of change dying as we repeat this mistake all over again. For change to happen, it cannot be just an emotional, irrational outburst. It needs to be rational, to be focused, to be sustained. Fanning the flames of emotional anger… it will die out quickly. Forget about Ghandi and Churchill and Colombus for the time being.

We have current “heroes” who have perpetuated the madness; they are alive and need to be pulled down from their places of power. Adam Rapoport was exposed for who he is as a bloody racist within the heriarchy of Condé Nast, yet Anna Wintour just gives a hollow speech and she remains the head of Vogue? Starbucks tried to ban their employees from wearing anything supporting the BLM movement, yet everyone is still buying their coffee and sandwiches? Trump is actively working to maintain the status quo; yet so many Americans are not registered to vote?

Let’s fix the current situation and remove the current “heroes” and then we can look to rectifying the ills of the past.

About the Author
Nicholas Jagdeo is the founder and executive director of "Understanding Israel Foundation", a Trinidad & Tobago-based NGO which is lobbying for greater relations between Trinidad & Tobago and Israel. Nicholas' debut novel, "The First Jew: The Resurrection of Abraham", is available on in print and kindle formats. He is a Schusterman Foundation ROI Alumni (2019) and holds a Master of International Business, an MSc in Strategic Leadership and Innovation, and is currently pursuing his MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
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