FREE SPEECH 42: Must Columbus Fall!?? with Jack Tchen
Must Columbus fall? Should the statue of Christopher Columbus be toppled from its premier location on the south-west corner of New York City's Central Park, and should Columbus Circle be renamed while we're at it? What about statues of Robert E. Lee, or Mount Rushmore?
Where do such debates begin - and where do they end? In 2017 New York City's Mayor, Bill de Blasio, charged a high-profile commission with the task of determining what to do about the statue of Columbus, alongside other statues of historical figures that some citizens of one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the world found to be glorifications of injustice, crimes, and moral failings. Professor Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen, the author of Yellow Peril and a co-founder of New York City's Museum of Chinese in America, talks about the original controversy and how the committee ultimately responded. (A few statues had to go; some got to stay. For the moment.)
The conversation offers a fascinating window into how political decisions are made, why historical monuments matter so much, and what it would mean to accurately reflect a shared and complex past.