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People Who Remove Statues Should Be Forced To Take Their Place

Dear readers,

As the self-appointed elder statesmen of this internet publication, it is my solemn duty to share as many of my precious thoughts as possible before time runs out on this long strange carnival ride of mine. Thus, I’ve decided to deploy a brand-new column format in these pages. I call it Strong Opinions – or S.T.O.P. for short – a series of “quick hit” opinion editorials covering various topics of the day, which I think you will find both informative and persuasive.

So, what’s got my goat this week? Why, once again, it’s statues. In case you haven’t heard, the New York City Council – not some drug-addled students, not some Marxist social club – but the city council of arguably the greatest city in the world has decided to remove the 187-year-old statue of Thomas Jefferson from city hall. Let me repeat that for you: Thomas. Goddamn. Jefferson.

I mean, can you believe the nerve of these people?

There was once a time when anyone who dared suggest so disrespectful a thing would find their office so flooded with angry letters, they’d need a snowplow just to go from their desk to their filing cabinet – but that time, sadly, has passed. So far as I know, none of the geniuses over at city hall has resigned in protest, there are no jeering crowds in the street demanding restitution, and the telephone lines haven’t lit up with livid calls from the rightfully scandalized citizenry.

That might actually be the most troubling part of this whole story. I can’t tell if decent God-fearing Americans are too busy, too lazy, or just plain demoralized, but one of these days – one of these days, goddammit! – they’re going to push us too far.

And when they do… Do you know what I think should happen to those illiterate clowns who so openly vandalize our public places? Those spineless numbskulls who profanely violate the sacred memory of our most revered political figures? The answer is self-evident.

Make them stand in place of the removed statues until the end of time.

They’ll have to keep as still as possible, and of course, observe strict silence, but I’m open to the idea of two 15-minute breaks per day for meals and bathroom visits. If the statue’s removal was a group effort – which most of them are – then we might set up a yearly rotation. The point is someone has to pay for these repeated and incessant indignities.

If you think for one goddamn second your words and ideas are more worthy of remembrance than a man like Thomas Jefferson, then by all means, stand in his spot. Go ahead. I won’t stop you. Take his place and let people come and see you. Let children ask their parents, “Why is that person standing there? Why are they so important?” and let parents say to their children, “Oh, that’s… um… so-and-so… I’m not really sure what they ever did with their lives… I guess once they removed a statue of a great man from a place of honor… Because that’s way forward, sweetie, we must destroy our history and hate ourselves… Never forget that.”

I think this is a fair proposal, don’t you? I’m open to other suggestions, if any of you would like to make one. Or here’s what we could do: Put the statues in the bedrooms of the activists who demanded their removal. Force them to stare into the faces of the worthy men they so thoughtlessly defamed every night for the rest of their lives. Then they might learn their lesson.

Look, I’m not saying that every statue around the world is worth keeping around. What I am saying is that something has to stand still in the public square, otherwise it’s not really the public square, is it? And do you think I trust you activists to put up an acceptable replacement? No way! So yes, in the spirit of compromise, the only reasonable solution is to have you yourself mount the pedestal, adopt the pose of the former statue, and stay perfectly still until you drop dead from exhaustion.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Until next time.


James O’Flannery


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