When the Muslims took Constantinople in 1453, one of the first things they did was t ake down the monumental Column of Justinian. Having stood for centuries, this act by the conquering Saracens in dismantling the statue was a reminder they were in control.
What once was, was now lost to those who now determined what would be.
An act of humiliation. You’ve been conquered and there’s nothing you can do to restore what we have taken from you, and what you once venerated will be systematically taken down, replaced, and lost to the hands of time. [Museum Proposes Melting Lee Statue to Make New Artwork, Bloomberg, October 21, 2021]:
Charlottesville, Va. (AP) — A Virginia museum is proposing to melt down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that was the focus of a violent white nationalist rally in 2017 in Charlottesville and create a new work of public art.
The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center submitted its proposal last week to Charlottesville’s city council and city manager, The Daily Progress reported. It outlines a plan to create the new work of art through a community engagement process and then give it to the city to be installed on public land.
“Recontextualization is not enough,” the museum said in the proposal, stressing that wherever the statue goes, it would remain “an icon of violent white supremacy.”
The Memory Project at UVa’s Democracy Initiative, Open Society Foundations and Virginia Humanities have already pledged funding to the project totaling \$590,000. The project is estimated to cost \$1.1 million, including funding for a project manager, according to Andrea Douglas, executive director of the Jefferson School.
While the Jefferson School did not submit a monetary offer to the city for ownership of the statue, it would assume all financial responsibility for the project with no financial obligation from the city.
The council voted to remove the statues of Lee and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in June. It has sought statements of interest from entities interested in ownership of one or both of the statues, which were removed in July. Dozens of entities and individuals responded.
Last month, the city solicited full proposals that would specifically re-contextualize the statues. It received five proposals. The Jefferson School is the only local entity and one of two Virginia entities that submitted proposals. The other proposals were submitted by the Ratcliffe Foundation in Russell County; the LAXART museum in Los Angeles; the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia; and a private citizen in Utopia, Texas.
Nothing more than ritualistic humiliation at this point, reflecting exactly what happened to the people of Constantinople and their monuments upon losing their civilization to the Muslims in 1453. Once conquered, there is no negotiating.