The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

No More Statues of White Men?

Posted on | January 22, 2024 | Comments Off on No More Statues of White Men?

William Penn statue in Philadelphia

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania was in an uproar after the Biden administration announced it was “planning to permanently remove a statue of William Penn from Philadelphia’s Welcome Park to provide a ‘more inclusive experience for visitors.'” In only a matter of days, however, the administration reversed the decision — Pennsylvania is a swing state, and it’s an election year — but only now are we starting to get some explanation of what led up to this incident:

The National Park Service’s proposal to remove a William Penn statue from a historic site in Philadelphia –- quickly withdrawn amid a backlash — wasn’t a priority for some of the Native Americans the agency was required to consult with as it prepared to renovate the deteriorating plaza.
Uprooting the statue of Pennsylvania’s founder from Welcome Park also wasn’t a major point of discussion as park service officials and tribal representatives met to plan the renovation over video last year, said Jeremy Johnson, director of cultural education for the Delaware Tribe of Indians.
Rather, what tribal representatives had envisioned for the plaza is an exhibit that would highlight the culture, history, traditions and perceptions of the Native Americans who had lived there for thousands of years before Penn arrived, Johnson said.
“We do still speak highly of William Penn,” Johnson said. But tribal representatives, he said, “were really just focusing on our culture and our history and that, in a way, he was an important part of it, but … it was a small interaction compared to our overall history.”
A park service spokesperson hasn’t responded to repeated questions about the abandoned proposal. . . .
A top state Republican lawmaker, Bryan Cutler, said removing Penn’s statue to “create a more inclusive environment takes (an) absurd and revisionist view of our state’s history.” Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro pressed the Biden administration to keep the statute in its “rightful home.”
The park service said it consulted with representatives of the Haudenosaunee, the Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe of Indians, the Shawnee Tribe, and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, whose ancestors were displaced by the Pennsylvania colony. Such consultation with the federally recognized tribes is required under the National Historic Preservation Act.
But leaders of the Shawnee Tribe and the Eastern Shawnees, both now based in Oklahoma, like the Delawares, said they hadn’t had any discussions about it. Ben Barnes, chief of the Shawnee Tribe, said his tribe hadn’t received a customary “dear chief” letter from the agency — and he objects to removing the statue.
“William Penn was an ally of the Shawnee,” Barnes said. “As long as he lived, he kept his promise. As long as he was able to speak on behalf of the colony in western Pennsylvania, the Shawnees had a home there. … Of all the terrible human beings that inflicted tragedy upon native peoples, I don’t put William Penn in that category.”

Wait a minute — in order to renovate a park in downtown Philadelphia, the feds are required by law to consult tribes that live in Oklahoma? What the actual fuck is going on here? Personally, I have no grievance with the Shawnees, but can somebody explain to me why they should be given a de facto veto over these park plans? If this is actually required by law, then the law needs to be changed. My suspicion, however, is that this whole controversy happened because Joe Biden is president, and the people he put in change of the park service have decided that the rule should now be “no more statues of white men.” The fact that nobody at the park service is answering questions is highly suggestive of a cover-up.



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