As our neighborhood continues to grapple with the aftermath of the destruction of the obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza and the prosecution of these accountable, you will need to bear in mind simply what was misplaced on that day. We misplaced the obelisk, after all, which pleases some and angers others. However greater than that, we misplaced the chance for democratic reconciliation.
The destruction of the obelisk subverted the authorized mechanisms that enable every of us as equal neighborhood members to advocate for our positions. Those that rejoice within the obelisk’s destruction ought to acknowledge that different gatherings of people that want to drive their will upon the remainder of us could have totally different values. As soon as we open the door to vigilanteism and criminality to attain our personal ends, we shouldn’t be stunned when those that disagree with us resort to the identical ways.
To be clear, there are occasions in a democracy when subverting the political system could also be justified. In circumstances when political energy is deeply corrupted or hegemonic and democracy is essentially damaged, there could also be no different possibility however to resort to violence and criminality. I think many supporters of the obelisk’s destruction consider they had been combating this sort of battle in opposition to entrenched historic racism, and that solely undemocratic, prison motion might transfer us ahead. However this was demonstrably not the case.
The mayor of Santa Fe himself advocated for the elimination of the obelisk and in reality tried, unsuccessfully, to take action. The governor wished it eliminated as effectively. The Entrada throughout Fiesta de Santa Fe was dropped only some years in the past in a transparent win for these advocating for higher consciousness of Native historical past. That change to Fiesta confirmed clearly that working throughout the norms of democratic politics can yield outcomes. Those that advocated for the obelisk’s elimination weren’t a fringe minority group who might justify prison motion as an undesirable however crucial stand in opposition to an intractable political energy. Quite the opposite, these in favor of elimination had highly effective allies on the prime of metropolis and state authorities, in addition to a robust cultural momentum on their aspect.
The individuals who destroyed the obelisk had a number of choices for reaching their aim. They might have labored via the channels of presidency, petitioning the mayor and Metropolis Council instantly. They might have protested peacefully, promoting their considerations to the general public and constructing a broad coalition with a purpose to put strain on metropolis officers. These paths take dedication, endurance, self-sacrifice and humility. They acknowledge and admire the truth that irrespective of how strongly you’re feeling about a difficulty, there are a lot of different individuals in your neighborhood whose views matter at least yours. The individuals who tore down the obelisk selected as a substitute probably the most expedient possibility. Little doubt they felt righteous in doing so. But when historical past has taught us something, it’s that the fervour of righteousness can be utilized for each noble and ignoble ends. The trail of democratic change is slower, agonizingly gradual generally, however the adjustments to society are extra basic and longer lasting.
Did the obelisk primarily commemorate Union troopers who fought for racial justice or troopers who contributed to the genocide of Native peoples? Ought to controversial monuments be torn right down to mirror our trendy values or retained as symbols of our historical past and markers of how we’ve modified? Ought to we’ve merely eliminated the plaque and saved the obelisk? We will disagree over these questions and consider strongly that the opposite aspect is improper. However we must always not enable our passions over anyone difficulty to distract us from our greater obligation to the democratic course of via which these points get resolved. It’s the basic position of residents in a liberal democracy to foster a political tradition and maintain political establishments that enable us to disagree over divisive points with out tearing our communities aside.
Going ahead, the easiest way to heal the rift this motion has created in our neighborhood is for these teams and people who’ve publicly advocated for the obelisk’s elimination to come back ahead and strongly condemn the way in which by which it was eliminated. Show that though we could have sturdy disagreements over our metropolis’s historical past, traditions and symbols, that we will nonetheless stand united on the rules of democratic politics.
Dylan Weller was born, raised and lives in Santa Fe.