Skip to main content

Of statues and other embarrassing honors

Stories and News No. 1204
So we do, and so we did in the world that preceded us. Beginning - or rather ending, a second ago.
In suspicious times we used to raise and inaugurate statues and busts, monuments of all types and shapes, sizes and presumed artistic value, among the most classic or daring obelisks, mausoleums and sculptures; not to mention simple plaques, medals and dedicated roads.
Then, with the passage of time, it happens that the facts recounted by the daily narration contradict the version credited to History. Consequently, as if trying to correct the inappropriate celebration of the infamous, rather than infamy, we do the contrary. Because we have done so in past times which we are all children of. I refer to the moment when we gather around statues and busts, monuments of all types and shapes, sizes and presumed artistic value, among obelisks, mausoleums and among the most classic or daring sculptures, not to mention simple plaques, medals and dedicated roads, for diametrically opposite reasons.
Consider, as a precise example, the current

demolition or damage of the symbols of slavery, and other forms of legalized abuse and genocide, in the now ex-land of opportunities and in the UK too.
This is a quite complex undertaking, to be concrete. I am saying, to work - more or less vindictively, on the exorbitant amount of these embarrassing material evidence of the shadow areas of the past is a hell of a job.
Nonetheless, by focusing on my Italy, are they actually identified as such? Shadow areas, I mean. You know, while at the courts respectively of Queen Elizabeth II and Trump I, some are using bribes and picks, in my country people are so quick to incense the winners, even before they reach the coveted goal. So, right now, in Milan are discussing the opportunity of removing the statue of the journalist Indro Montanelli, who confessed of having married a minor.
Well, given that I fear a grueling meeting like those between Tolkien's Ents, in the meantime I draw up a list of questionable honors, limiting for example and personal interest to the protagonists of Italian colonialism in Africa: the plaque in via Nazionale, in Rome, in memory of the patriot and distinguished statesman Agostino Depretis; the statue of another patriot, or Francesco Crispi, erected in his own square in Palermo; the statue of the shipowner Raffaele Rubattino in Piazza Loading in Genoa; the monuments in memory of King Umberto I, both in Desio, in Piazza Martiri di Fossoli, and in Rome, along the Viale della Pineta, inside Villa Borghese; the busts dedicated respectively to General Antonio Baldissera in viale dell’Orologio and to Major Pietro Toselli in via Lepanto, always in the capital; the monument in Milan of Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, the only italian Nobel Peace Prize winner, despite his support for the notorious Libyan war (whose terrible consequences are still evident today); the house museum of the poet Giovanni Pascoli, also a convinced interventionist of the aforementioned wicked action. Because aggression’s wars are all, without exclusion, unforgivable crimes, period. This should not be discussed, otherwise stop here, my advice. But why not mention the exorbitant amount of streets and squares named after characters known also for their colonial past? Like the square named after the government agent disguised as a missionary Giuseppe Sapeto in the Garbatella district in Rome; via Alessandro Asinari in San Marzano, via Giuseppe Arimondi and via Giuseppe Galliano, excetera.
I could go on, but I'd end up breaking every length record for a single post...
In my humble opinion, the most urgent question is not whether or not it is appropriate to remove uncomfortable testimonies of our spasmodic dedication in paying homage to simply famous and powerful individuals, more than worthy of luster.
The point that interests me more is manifested in the form of a question: today, compared to the day we unduly honored the person with the filthy moral record, are we a different society?
In other words, are we able to distinguish an admirable human being from a popular rascal, right now?

Subscribe to Newsletter