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 pressure their will upon the remainder of us could have totally different values. As soon as we open the door to vigilanteism and criminality to realize our personal ends, we shouldn’t be shocked 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 instances when political energy is deeply corrupted or hegemonic and democracy is basically damaged, there could also be no different choice however to resort to violence and criminality. I believe many supporters of the obelisk’s destruction consider they have been combating this type of battle in opposition to entrenched historic racism, and that solely undemocratic, felony motion may transfer us ahead. However this was demonstrably not the case.
The mayor of Santa Fe himself advocated for the removing of the obelisk and actually tried, unsuccessfully, to take action. The governor needed it eliminated as effectively. The Entrada throughout Fiesta de Santa Fe was dropped just a few 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 inside the norms of democratic politics can yield outcomes. Those that advocated for the obelisk’s removing weren’t a fringe minority group who may justify felony motion as an undesirable however crucial stand in opposition to an intractable political energy. Quite the opposite, these in favor of removing had highly effective allies on the high of metropolis and state authorities, in addition to a robust cultural momentum on their facet.
The individuals who destroyed the obelisk had a number of choices for reaching their purpose. They might have labored by means of the channels of presidency, petitioning the mayor and Metropolis Council straight. They might have protested peacefully, promoting their considerations to the general public and constructing a broad coalition with the intention to put stress on metropolis officers. These paths take willpower, persistence, self-sacrifice and humility. They acknowledge and admire the truth that regardless 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 an alternative probably the most expedient choice. Little question they felt righteous in doing so. But when historical past has taught us something, it’s that the eagerness of righteousness can be utilized for each noble and ignoble ends. The trail of democratic change is slower, agonizingly gradual typically, 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 fashionable values or retained as symbols of our historical past and markers of how we have now modified? Ought to we have now merely eliminated the plaque and stored the obelisk? We will disagree over these questions and consider strongly that the opposite facet is unsuitable. However we must always not enable our passions over anyone subject to distract us from our increased obligation to the democratic course of by means of which these points get resolved. It’s the basic function 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 removing to return ahead and strongly condemn the best way during which it was eliminated. Display that though we may have robust 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.