Tearing down statues of Confederate figures and slave owners like Thomas Jefferson was fun while it lasted, but now liberal activists are turning their attention to a new cause célèbre. As an example of this newfound indignation, the city of Arcata, Calif., has voted to tear down the above statue. In case the face isn’t immediately recognizable, it is that of William McKinley, the nation’s 25th president.
So what did McKinley do to deserve the wrath of the citizens of this small town? According to Chris Peters, head of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous People, McKinley was a proponent of “settler colonialism” that “savaged, raped and killed” American Indians.
The Los Angeles Times, which further quotes Peters as having shouted at a recent rally “Put a rope around its neck and pull it down,” provides no additional information on the alleged crimes other than the vague generalization that McKinley “stands accused of directing the slaughter of Native peoples in the U.S. and abroad.”
The article does note that other similar cleansing efforts have occurred throughout the country:
In February, San Francisco officials said they planned to remove a prominent downtown monument depicting a defeated Native American at the feet of a vaquero and a Spanish missionary. In March, the San Jose City Council booted a statue of Christopher Columbus from the lobby of City Hall.
Other states are joining the movement. The city of Kalamazoo, Mich., said last month it would take down a park monument of a Native American in a headdress kneeling before a westward-facing pioneer. In Alcalde, N.M., and El Paso, statues of the conquistador Juan de Oñate have become subjects of renewed debate.
Even relics that shows positive interactions between Indians and European settlers have come under scrutiny:
At a recent forum, Marquette University faculty members declared that the school’s seal is a “microaggression” because it depicts a white explorer being guided by a Native American.