Statue letters, July 6, 2021: Not much leadership, plenty of ignorance, a touch of anarchy

The destruction of the statue of Capt. James Cook on Canada Day prompted a strong response from Times Colonist readers.

We have not had such a flood of letters since then-premier Gordon Campbell was arrested for drunk driving in Hawaii in January 2003.

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Here is a selection:

The thuggish mobs that have been tearing down monuments such as the Capt. James Cook statue in the Inner Harbour have more in common with the likes of ISIS and the Taliban than with any form of legitimate credible protest.

Blinded by their zealotry and fuelled by their own sense of indignation, their antics reflect a shocking lack of any understanding of historical context, a rabid eagerness to destroy public cultural property, and a frightening disregard for anyone who does not embrace their particular version of righteousness.

If these mobs had their way, we’d all be living in a world without monuments and worshipping only at the altar of critical race theory with all of its flawed, divisive and hurtful assumptions about who is good and who is bad.

Despite their rhetoric and slogans, these protesters are less about inclusion and embracing diversity and righting past wrongs than they are about ideological conformity and promoting identity politics.

Zealous as they are, these mobs are destined to fail. What they don’t realize is that in an educated and civil society such as Canada, people change their minds and come to new understandings through thoughtful dialogue, careful consideration of the facts and the proper weighing of evidence.

Violently destroying public monuments, chanting slogans, and slinging paint around won’t get them any credibility, attract any converts, or advance their cause in any significant way.

The sooner these individuals wake up to this, the better for all of us, especially those whose causes they purport to advance.

Ted Riecken


What we are learning about residential schools is awful. As a trade unionist I have long supported the right to strike and peaceful right to protest.

What we are witnessing in torching churches and vandalizing statues is not constructive or peaceful protest, it is simply lawlessness and anarchy.

In the U.S. we watched the result of rage unleashed at the Capitol. The lack of the use of force almost resulted in the lynching of the vice-president, Speaker of the House and probably many other representatives.

The article reported: “Police saw the statue come down. No arrests were made.”

Choosing which causes have merit and which ones the law will not be enforced is to head down a slippery slope. I guess if the police are not going to defend public and private property, they might as well be defunded.

I don’t think we are going to end up in a good place.

Wayne Cox


The signs of cancel culture that we are presently seeing in the toppling of statues and the defacing of buildings, if followed to its logical conclusion, will at best result in a sort of anarchy.

The unfortunate truth is that no culture or civilization can ultimately stand up to relentless scrutiny. To give just one example, the Indigenous people of the West Coast practised slavery. Does that mean their symbols should be banished?

We would be much better served by trying to look for what we have in common.

Reconciliation does not mean ­capitulation.

John Sutherland


A spate of indignant letters appeared in Saturday’s Times Colonist, decrying what one writer describes as “vandalism and violence.” Vandalism it is, violence it is not.

What is violence is tearing children from their parents, sending them confused and lonely to a strange so-called school where they are subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, fed inferior food, kept in unsanitary conditions while their confidence and culture is undermined by being categorized as “heathen.”

Sorry, some of us have trouble sympathizing with the loss of stone and bronze images when compared with what happened to generations of Indigenous children. Save your indignation for their fate and remember that injustice has consequences.

Doug Turner


I am appalled and saddened by the removal of the Capt. James Cook statue by what can only be described as a bunch of out-of-control vandals.

Of particular note is the very vocal assertions of “colonialism” connected to the statue by some of these thugs; obviously, of European immigrant heritage who wouldn’t be standing there in the first place if it hadn’t been for European exploration.

This behaviour is no different than the recent burning of churches in the Interior; again, an act that has been severely criticized by First Nations leaders and elders.

The path forward to reconciliation is not achieved, or supported, with actions such as these.

This rampage can only be described as shameful ­behaviour by a few renegades who advocate for First Nations reconciliation behind a trail of their destructive actions.

Their outright ignorance of the correct path forward, that the vast majority of First Nations people desire and deserve, is clearly beyond their comprehension!

John Stevenson


I was very upset at the toppling of the sculpture of Capt. James Cook. It is a fine piece of artwork that I have admired since the day it went up.

I have also always admired the man. This was no dictator, no slave-trading racist. He was a sailor, an explorer, a scientific observer of a fascinating new world.

A man who would be as appalled as the rest of us with recent news events.

Let’s not be held hostage to uninformed vandals.

Are we not looking to find tolerance and inclusion, an understanding of our differences, not a war of Us and Them? That never works.

Perhaps an avenue/collection of sculptures honouring those who have contributed to the ­history and culture of our Island would be an idea: All inclusive.

There are many voices to be heard, not just those of the angry mob. Let’s do better than that.

Please put the captain back.

Paul H. Dishaw


Why are we allowing this to go on like it is?

These statues are history that elders had in school. Maybe we don’t all agree with this statue or this church, but you don’t set fire or pull down things.

It is time we stopped giving these people so much free money, and put them to work, and maybe they would appreciate things more.

Also, they get away with this stuff, where is the punishment?

In order for all people to get along, all should be treated the same.

Frances Cammiade


Statues should stay, but the inscriptions should be changed to include the good and the bad things the person did or stood for.

Bill Yearwood


It is best practice in mental institutions to refrain from displaying any items that would disturb or aggravate the patients.

Now that our wise past governments have closed those institutions and deployed the patients to our streets, I would respectfully suggest that the Capt. James Cook statue, and others destroyed, not be replaced. We should follow this course until, once again, institutions are built to house and take care of these poor misguided folks.

Mike Thomas


Under what statute do we authorize police to watch and do nothing when public property is vandalized?

Amongst all this cancellation silliness, has authorized immunity been given to certain groups. I await news of appropriate charges to be laid.

Michael Fox


The attempted destruction of the totem on the Malahat was pure, unjustified vandalism of property, as was the toppling of the statue of Capt. James Cook.

Both should be investigated and the perpetrators of both punished. The RCMP and the Victoria Police should do their job and apply the law equally.

Hugh Stephens


Reconciliation: the restoration of friendly relations. Unfortunately, we cannot change the past.

What are we doing now to reach our goal of reconciliation?

In the past few weeks churches have been vandalized and burned, statues have been torn down and totem poles have been set alight.

We’re further apart than ever. This is not the path to friendly relations.

Gloria Gillingham


How about statues of the meetings of our two cultures? For example, Capt. James Cook and a chief who met him? Or Queen Victoria and a First Nations treaty signer.

It’s significant that at present I don’t even know names to ­suggest.

Among other things, such statues would show accurately who was here first and might represent a hope of making things turn out better.

Janet Bavelas


After the recent unprecedented heatwave, where people hid in their cool basements, how is it that someone on July 1, Canada Day, decided that the statue of Capt. James Cook should be torn down and defaced?

How was this thoughtful and reflective about what has gone on at the residential schools in Canada? This was just another senseless act of vandalism and no resolution to what happened!

Pat Jensen


I am horrified by the image of the vandalism of the Capt. James Cook statue at the Inner Harbour.

Although we can disagree on the value of this statue, vandalism is vandalism and removing a statue will never remove the history. Will the statues of Capt. George Vancouver and Queen Victoria become the next target?

Should we change the names of Cook Street and Vancouver Street?

We might not restore the statue, but we must restore the law and order. Let’s call a referendum and let the people of Victoria decide the future of these statues.

Wang Xie


Is there really room for “discussion” about what to do next with the Capt. James Cook statue? It has to go back, as any other decision will sanction mob rule.

There is nothing in our legal system that allows for this sort of conduct in the first place and thus it should not be the basis for public policy after the act.

If our elected officials continue to be arbitrary about what constitutes free expression, the police will not know when to act and the flames of anarchy will spread.

By their words, or deafening silence, many elected officials from Ottawa to Victoria have tacitly and effectively encouraged this conduct.

Excusing crimes based on the vagaries of victim-group status and intersectional membership will be a disaster for everyone, including those that tore down the statue.

Rob Creese



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