Yesterday I learned from various sources that someone had thrown yellow paint upon the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts. The memorial stands on Beacon Street across from the Massachusetts State House; Boston Commons opens to the south of it.
Of particular interest is the report that the person accused of committing the act did so because she believed the monument was historically inaccurate. That recalled in my mind the actions taken by several people along Richmond’s Monument Row late last year, because in that instance as well one could argue that the actions were motivated by a challenge to the supposed historical narrative embodied in the monument. I say supposed because, after all, those who acted against these monuments also made assumptions about what they meant to others, and they wanted to challenge that assumed meaning. That distinguishes these acts from other acts of vandalism against other monuments, where motivation varies (leading one to ask whether all acts of vandalism are equal … I’ve heard arguments both ways).
What should one make of this, if anything? What questions would you ask?