OPINION – Jerry Anderson, the sculptor of the now infamous Confederate statue removed from Dixie State College last week, in an interview with The Spectrum Daily News, said “They should have kept it up.”
“Let the black people, or whoever is fighting against it, try to disfigure it in some way, and put them in jail where they belong,” Anderson said. They don’t stand up for what we, in St. George, believe in.”
Mind if I ask what that is exactly? What do we in St. George believe in?
If there were any question as to the racist bias of that statue in its creation, the originator sealed in the truth of it with his own words.
When our community holds fast to every last shred of its traditions, it loses credibility with people who have come here from all over the country – and the world for that matter. What is most puzzling is some of us simply cannot see ourselves.
My personal experience on an individual basis with people here reveals nothing less than a gracious, accommodating, and well-meaning people who seem to fall apart in group think.
So, which one is the front? Is it good well-intentioned people being misunderstood? Or is it narrow-minded people disguising themselves as tolerant until push comes to shove?
Truth is, it’s both.
I think the statement by Anderson paints the people of this town and the college we house within it in an inaccurate and dark way. It was simply inexcusable. Certainly there are many if not more than many who would not share Anderson’s viewpoint. Why don’t they cry out in protest that he does not represent them?
The absence of an outcry, from some in the community who seek to maintain traditions in the face of hard questions that may call their intentions into question, deserves rethinking. This community is not edified by allowing the likes of an Anderson’s ignorance to be representative of the community as a whole.
Listen folks, the perception may well be that this town is being changed and the line keeps getting moved. It may even be true. But, as a caller on the radio stated last week, that’s called progress.
Progress towards what?
Justice and equality perhaps.
Again I encourage healthy and rigorous dialogue to take place. Thursday night, there will be a peaceful demonstration by the Washington County Minority Coalition held across the street from where the statue once stood. Attend, listen, dialogue with others. And if the Dixie State College Campus Police tries to shut it down violating not only the demonstrators’ civil rights but yours also, take note. Heck, take photos.
What we as a community need to come to grips with is that we have have a rising opportunity to relate to and be relevant to concerns that are common to all on a national level. In other words, we’re not an island, St. George, let’s not act like we are.
For most of its short 150 years, St. George has been autonomous unto itself receiving little national attention. But the coming of an established higher learning institution and a water pipeline supporting growth numbers upwards of a half million people, these are not locally indigenous things. They have far-reaching impacts, hence will incur input equally from far-reaching sources .
In other words, if we desire to grow in one way, then we need to surrender to some extent the “like it or leave it” attitude.
Like it or not, what happens here now is, more than ever in our town’s history, thrust upon the national stage.
Rise to it. Please.
For a people who proudly lay claim to having established themselves here in the face of harsh persecution, there is an alarming insensitivity to others: People have moved here, in a sense at the town’s invitation to growth, and then feel persecuted for their differences. Like it or not, we are, after all, yet under the banner of the American Constitution not the banner of the founding pioneer settlers.
I know, I know … if I don’t like it I can leave right?
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Twitter: @dallashylandCopyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.