Before You Reject Nelson.
The Prime Minister has wisely decided that any decision to remove Nelson’s statue, would be done after consulting the public. The only meaningful way to consult the public on a matter like this, is with a national referendum.
A reported 10,000 persons have already signed a petition to remove Nelson. Organised demonstrations have taken place to advocate for its removal. Activists have vandalised it. Protestors were given media space to promote their ideas.
Nelson has been portrayed as a slave-owning racist white-supremacist slavery-supporter mass-murderer. We were told that the statue should offend all Barbadians, and anyone not offended is a racist. That does not encourage honest discussion, and ensures that public meetings will likely be a farce.
Did Nelson own slaves? I could not find any evidence that Nelson bought, sold, or owned any slaves. He was mainly at sea from the time he was 12 years old until the day he died.
Was Nelson a racist? Again, I could find no supporting evidence in the historical record. He had black persons on his ships, not as slaves, but as trusted warriors. He was developing an extremely talented and disciplined naval fighting force – one that would rule the seas for the next 140 years.
In my travels, I observed the bronze reliefs at the base of Nelson’s statue in London. One of them depicts his death. Near the dying Nelson is a black man. He is not in chains. Neither is he doing labour work as are some other seamen. He is clothed, and armed with a rifle. A photo of the relief is provided.
I shall commence a series of four articles, examining the evidence in the historical record. The aim is to identify any evidence that Nelson was this wicked fellow, that some of our historians and political activists claim that he was.
Let me end by noting that the bronze statue is of exceptional quality. The workmanship appears to be as near to perfect as can be achieved, and its durability, after almost 200 years, is remarkable. It is far superior to the stone statue of Nelson in London, and should be studied by our artists as an exemplar of workmanship. I am concerned that we do not value quality in Barbados.
We destroyed the underground structure at Fort George, perhaps the first limestone masonry multi-arched structure ever built on this planet. The quality of workmanship of that international treasure was impressive, and beautiful, and durable. But that could not save it from those determined to destroy it.
We destroyed the 6-storey NIS building, which was built on the most expensive foundation system in Barbados. When the Queen visited Barbados in 1975, she knighted Gary Sobers, and opened that building. We demolished the $30M building, because some activists found it offensive, and incompatible with a planned park for one of our activist heroes, Clement Payne.
We applaud the vandalism of Nelson’s statue. We cheer those who want to destroy it, or dump it in the river. Even the Minister responsible has suggested putting it in the corrosive seawater. We are showing the world that we are an easily controlled people, with no appreciation for quality, who are discouraged from thinking for ourselves.