The Limitations of Statues

I guess it began with the whole Confederate flag thing. A kid goes nuts and half the known universe makes like those guys in the park after rock concerts that go around spearing litter and putting it in bags. Poof. All gone. No more flags. Clean as a whistle. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Well the enthusiasm has spread. In late August, the University of Texas removed statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson from the Main Mall of its campus. Nothing shouts commitment quite like a press release in the passive voice — “Statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson were removed Sunday from the limestone pedestals at the University of Texas on which they have stood for 82 years” — especially when the spokesman is the University’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement. Sounds like Jeff and Woody leaped off the limestone and cannonballed into the waiting trucks.

Now for a poll: what percentage of the University of Texas population including faculty has the slightest idea who Woodrow Wilson was, why he was there in the first place and what he did to get bounced. These numbers are going to be low, but I am guessing Jefferson Davis will do better when those questions are asked about him.

Those three paragraphs sound like the lead in for a fist-shaking screed on political correctness. Fooled you; they state the case for a business plan of epic proportion.

Nobody seriously thinks this silliness is going to end, so let’s make some good money off it while it lasts.

We need a museum for all of the rejected statues, a museum with major admission charges. I ran the idea by a seriously important real live museum director the other day and I was undeterred by his backing away as the scheme unfolded. But he is seriously important and a long time friend so I am not telling you who he is and I am keeping the share of the profits I offered to him.

I did not tell him the museum might gently ease across the line separating museums from theme parks, though it surely will. The opportunity is “YUGE.”

I did point out that the new museum would have an acquisition budget of zero because the rejected statues, paintings, murals and building names will literally be delivered to us in the dark of night. Abandoned right on the front steps no questions asked.

We then put them all up and actually teach people something by telling them who everyone was, why they were once thought to be fancy enough to merit statues, paintings, murals and building names and why they fell from grace.

Now here is another part of this splendid plan that might be a bit sticky for seriously important museum directors: de-accessioning. Selling art is taboo in museum land. While admission fees will keep the lights on, the real money is in selling the statues, paintings, murals and building names back after all this stupidity ends. (Okay, the ending of stupidity probably has some “if” to it.)

The market is limitless. We can have the Washington Redskins at no cost. We can have Brown University (founded by slave traders) at no cost. All manner of beliefs, religions and ideas, both right and wrong, will be delivered unto us and all at no cost. It goes on and on. If we are clever about it, we can own a good chunk of college and pro sports because their names are suspect.

The mighty development team is hard at work promoting the idea that all former elected officials who make the current ones look bad by comparison must be similarly banished from the public square. We also need to promote more partisanship so the Republicans oust Democrats and the Democrats oust Republicans because we’ll make money off both.

Poll question: the picture above is described as the statue of limitations. Who is it? Why was he honored in the first pace and why is he now available for relocation? Your answers can go in the comments.

10 Responses to “The Limitations of Statues”

Brandy, September 08, 2015 at 12:01 am said:

Too easy answer to be Jeff D or Woody W so maybe Andrew J? Maybe Thomas J but doesn’t seem a likeness for that other dastardly human trafficer George W ?


Haven Pell, September 08, 2015 at 2:45 pm said:

Brandy, see other replies. We have winners.


Dick Sonderegger, September 08, 2015 at 2:11 am said:

Hi, Haven–

Nice piece!

The picture is of the statue of Roger B Taney, which graces the grounds of the Maryland State House in Annapolis.

What do I win?


Haven Pell, September 08, 2015 at 2:45 pm said:

Excellent Dick though the statue is in Baltimore not Annapolis.


Dick Sonderegger, September 08, 2015 at 2:15 am said:

Oh — Why was he honored and why is he now available for relocation…

I could plagiarize the answer, but that would be poor form.

See this piece from 6/26/15 in The Observer (


Haven Pell, September 08, 2015 at 2:46 pm said:

pretty much all that might have gotten us in trouble in school or college. Plagiarism is well avoided.


Richard Johnson, September 08, 2015 at 5:16 am said:

OK, so I wasn’t the most stellar pupil when it came to US history, but this guy epitomizes the fact that the Supremes (no, not those Supremes) – The Judges in the Supreme Court – are not only eminently capable of bad decisions, but have created a significant historical record of both multifarious and variegated bad decisions.

Roger Taney, whom you see bronzed, but, as he would undoubtedly proclaim, definitely not the slightest bit tanned, set the bar for really bad decisions pretty high! I mean, Citizens United vs FEC high!

But I digress … Roger was the Supreme idiot who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case in the 1850s, which basically said that black people, whether enslaved or free, were not, and could not be American citizens; that they were property, not people. I believe it also required the Government to protect slavery.

This dude should be “relocated” in the same way that the Bolsheviks “relocated” Czar Nicholas and his family after they were executed.


Haven Pell, September 08, 2015 at 2:51 pm said:

A friend called today and in our conversation described me as an iconoclast. I was honored and modestly looked down at my feet as is mete and right so to do. But what is an iconoclast if he wishes to preserve and profit from anti-icons? This is most vexing.


bill gordon, September 09, 2015 at 7:21 pm said:

Too hell with the history, I want a piece of the Museum of the Banished! Where do I send $?

Add poor Silent Sam to the display. He is the revered Confederate soldier statue placed strategically on the UNC CHAPEL HILL campus in memory of the many graduates killed in the War of Northern Aggression. His moniker is derived from the belief that he fires his musket every time a virgin passes.

Every museum needs a piece that that not only celebrates revisionism, but can at the same time remind us of the good old sexist humor that will soon be a distant memory.


Haven Pell, September 09, 2015 at 7:30 pm said:

Bill, there was an interesting comment on another site where I posted the article. It suggested the creation of a marketplace for trading disfavored statues back and forth. All the Silent Sam’s could be moved from places favoring the War of Northern Aggression to any of three places: (a) further South and perhaps more rural; (b) those favoring gun control since he seems to have few occasions to fire his musket; or (c) sororities favoring these new freedoms. If we can get them to bid against each other we can have a splendid profit with no capital expenditure.


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