During the Trump reign, TV news host Rachel Maddow routinely cautioning viewers, “Watch what they do, not what they say.” Her advice proved only partially useful. Things said can be mighty coercive. You need only recall Trump‘s rallying cry for his attempted coup on Jan 6 to know that words matter.

Put a pin in that thought for a moment while I relate some recent news.

Reasons why

Art News reports that the City of London Corporation voted to remove statues from its historic district of two colonial politicians owing to their connection to the transatlantic slave trade.

The statuary models Sir John Cass, a member of Parliament in the 17th century, and William Beckford, the two-time mayor of the city in the 18th century. Both men made their fortune by trading slaves.

Historic inevitability

London is not alone in re-thinking its monument. Art News attributes last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests to reviews of statuary with racist histories worldwide. "It’s the only right thing to do," says City of London Corporation chair Catherine McGuinness. She said in a statement that taking down public monuments linked to slavery “is an important milestone in our journey towards a more inclusive and diverse city.”

Legal affairs

But, despite the decision in London, there hasn’t been a wholesale takedown of controversial monuments.

Art Daily noted legalities in England’s capital city that protect history. For example, only “in the most exceptional circumstances” can monuments be removed. Cases in point: former mayor Beckford, who got rich from a Jamaica plantation that used slave labor, and MP Cass who was a kingpin in the Royal Africa Company instrumental in trading slaves.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

What’s missing?

But while London’s decision constitutes what was done, what is being said by the head of state, the reigning constitutional monarch Queen Elizabeth II? MSN reported that except for former royal Prince Harry, the Queen has yet to say anything of the Black Lives Matter movement or of George Floyd’s death that started the movement.

Given the Queen’s family history, described by MSN as “turning a blind eye – and in some instances, even enabling racism since the early years of the monarchy,” you’d think she would say something, especially since her namesake, Elizabeth I, was linked to England’s slave trade in the 16th century.

The other Elizabeth

As MSN tells the Elizabeth I story, she openly backed Captain John Hawkins, who was known for seizing 300 Africans and trading them for goods like ginger and sugar in 1562.” Elizabeth II never addressed her ancestor’s actions. MSN pointed out that as recently as this past June, the royals have been “ignoring accusations of racism.” And her people notice.

Say something

A petition called for Elizabeth’s highest medal, known as the Order of St Michael, to be redesigned because its image of St.

Michael standing on Satan looks like George Floyd’s killing. The Guardian noted more than 2,000 signatures on the petition, which also asked for a response from the Queen.

You’d think the P.R. disaster caused by her notoriously slow public response to the tragedy of Princess Diana's death would have reminded her that words matter.

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