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Time to burn your Teddy Bear along with your Gone With the Wind DVD – Roosevelt falls as does Grant

Tom Winnifrith Monday 22 June 2020

 

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Another weekend and more statues topple in America, notably that of Ulysses Grant. Next up is Teddy Roosevelt. For those not ignorant of history, which natch includes none of the topplers and only about 5% of those under 25, that is why this is so frightening.


Grant was a Civil war General. Aha you say, he was a wicked Confederate fighting for slavery! Er…no. He led the Union Forces and so ensured slavery was abolished. He went on to become President where his most notable achievement was in fighting the KKK, the Klu Klux Klan, prosecuting those evil idiots who wore pillows and sheets, burned crosses and lynched black folks. He was the first President to promote both African Americans but also Jews to high office.


So in terms of BlackLivesmatter it might be fair to say that Grant has done more in American History  to improve the welfare of black folks than any other individual. More even than Lincoln, the President who led the Union and was assasinated by a slavery supporter for his troubles. Lincoln’s statue in London, was of course, valndalised by BlackLivesMatter protestors. But back to Ulysses. Grant’s father was an abolitionist and indeed his parents boycotted his wedding because his bride’s family owned slaves and they disapproved of that union vehemently.


In 1859 Grant’s father in law gave him a slave. Grant freed him.  But that is the problem Grant once owned a slave and, for that “crime”, all of his other achievements are deemed null and void and his statue must fall.


Theodore Roosevelt, after whom Teddy Bears are named, owned no slaves and was an all round progressive Republican from the start of the last century. His legislation greatly assisted the poor, including – of course – most blacks and he was a pioneer environmentalist. His face is one of those at Mount Rushmore and since the 1940s a statue of Teddy on a horse flanked by an African American and a native American on foot has stood outside the Natural History Museum in New York.


Obviously that is now seen as a symbol of colonialism and oppression. It is not so much Teddy, we are told but the fact that he is on a horse while those folks of colour are on foot. Whatever… rip the statue down, erase another part of America’s history so that generations to come will have even less idea of their past of the good deeds that men like Grant and Roosevelt did to make America a better place for all.  And while you are about it chuck your teddy in the trash can along with that old Gone with the Wind DVD.


 

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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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