Some so-called thoughts on McKinley

Seems like every time I turn around lately someone is offering up their opinion on William McKinley and the statue of him at the center of the Arcata Plaza. I’ve lived in or around Arcata most of my life, since 1969 to be exact, that’s when I moved here to attend college. Needless to say, my opinion has changed over time.

This week, my thoughts have been shaped by a speech by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Maybe you saw him on The Daily Show this week. (Watch it now by clicking here.)

The Mayor has a new book coming out today called In the Shadow of Statues.


Just before city workers removed a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee — the fourth Confederate monument to be dismantled in New Orleans late last year — the Mayor gave a speech.


His book basically expands on his thoughts from the day.

Here’s part of what he said: 

This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from the truth. I know that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like.

So relocating these monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and, most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division…

Wednesday evening the people of Arcata will gather once again with the city council to talk about that statue of Bill. They’re expecting a big crowd so they’ve moved the meeting to the Arcata Community Center. We’re a town struggling with a decision, to paraphrase Mayor Landrieu, “paying a price with discord, with division.” To outsiders it may seem like a minor question to occupy so much time and energy, but I see a town at a crossroads, with a chance to make things change. The result? That remains to be seen. We can only hope it’s a change for the better.

Bill gets ready.jpg

Coming soon: more thoughts on McKinley including a photo essay on respect for our statue and the lack thereof.


You don’t like my so-called thoughts?


One comment

  1. Bob, I so appreciate your ongoing “humming” about this issue. The longer this current discussion goes on, the more clear it becomes to me, and I hope to others, what the City Council’s decision needs to be.

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