For most of its history, the West has honored its past with monuments and statues.
General View of the Robert E Lee Statue and surrounding area on August 30, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Credit Image: © Imagespace via ZUMA Wire)
General Thomas ”Stonewall” Jackson Monument located on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. (Credit Image: © Chuck Myers / MCT / ZUMAPRESS.com)
A statue of Charles Martel at the Palace of Versailles in France. (Credit Image: Thesupermat via Wikimedia)
Workers take down the boarding around the Winston Churchill statue on Parliament Square, London. (Credit Image: © Yui Mok/PA Wire via ZUMA Press)
Kit Carson, frontiersman and military officer, in Denver, CO before he was taken down. (Credit Image: Daderot via Wikimedia)
(Credit Image: Burkhard Mücke via Wikimedia)
Statue of Thomas Jefferson flanked by Marine Honor Guards during Jefferson Memorial dedication, Washington DC, April 12, 1943 (Credit Image: © Circa Images / Glasshouse via ZUMA Wire)
This public art reminded us of our shared heritage and identity. Not only are monuments honoring our past being taken down, the aesthetic of public places looks in a different diction. Instead of looking reverently to our past it looks anxiously toward the future. Last week’s election was not an occasion for a shared sense of civic participation, but of fear, as storefronts and even government buildings boarded up in case of riots.
Boston, Massachusetts: Businesses board up windows and doors on Election Day (Credit Image: © Kenneth Martin/ZUMA Wire)
Businesses are seen boarded up in preparation for civil unrest on the day of the 2020 Election, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Dylan Stewart/Image of Sport) (Credit Image: © Dylan Stewart/Image of Sports/Newscom via ZUMA Press)
November 3, 2020, Albuquerque, New Mexico: A motorist drives past the boarded entrance of City Hall while dropping off an absentee ballot. The entrances were boarded up in anticipation of post election violence. (Credit Image: © Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA Wire)
Washington, DC: Latino workers are seen boarding up the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Headquarters against any protests during the Presidential Election 2020 in Washington. (Credit Image: © Lenin Nolly/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire)
November 6, 2020, New York, NY: The stores on SoHo continue to be boarded up two days after this country’s presidential elections. Major protests are expected when the presidential election is decided. (Credit Image: © Luiz Rampelotto/ZUMA Wire)
November 7, 2020: Several businesses in Atlanta, including a Target store in the Edgewood Retail District have boarded their windows in anticipation of post election civil unrest. (Credit Image: © John Arthur Brown/ZUMA Wire)
Workers board up the windows of the Starbucks at 16th and K Streets NW in Washington on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Many storefronts and office buildings in downtown Washington are boarded up in anticipation of unrest on Election Day. (Credit Image: © Bill Clark/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press)
November 3, 2020, Beverly Hills, California: Stores in Rodeo Drive are taking a preventive measure by boarding up their store fronts to protect against possible unrest due to the results of the presidential election. (Credit Image: © Prensa Internacional via ZUMA Wire)
The Hotel Washington boarded up on November 2, 2020 in Washington DC on the night before the Presidential Election. Photo: Chris Tuite / ImageSPACE (Credit Image: © via ZUMA Wire)
Boarded up stores prior to Election Day 2020, Times Square, NYC. November 2, 2020. (Credit Image: © Sonia Moskowitz Gordon / ZUMA Wire)
Sacramento, CA: Plywood covers glass windows on the 1200 block of J Street for protection of anticipation damage during election night on Monday, Nov 2. (Credit Image: © Paul Kitagaki Jr. / ZUMA Wire)
A woman walks by a boarded up restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Many storefronts and office buildings in downtown Philadelphia are boarded up in anticipation of unrest on Election Day. (Credit Image: © Caroline Brehman / Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press)
The windows of a bank are boarded up in preparation for possible election-related protest in Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 2020. (Credit Image: © Liu Jie / Xinhua via ZUMA Press)
Workers board up a bank near Union Square ahead of Election Day on October 31, 2020 in New York. (Credit Image: © Bryan Smith/ZUMA Wire)
The French have torn down fewer monuments than we have but their fear of political violence is more jarring:
Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, France: French CRS (Compagnies Republicaines de Securite) police officers stand at the entrance of Le Bois d’Aulne middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on November 3, 2020, as the pupils are back to school after holidays, two weeks after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker. (Credit Image: © Eliot Blondet/Abaca via ZUMA Press)
French Army soldiers patrol pass by security glass wall at the Eiffel Tower on June 18, 2019. Bulletproof glass barrier along of the Eiffel Tower is part of a broader security project against terrorist attack threats in Paris, France. (Credit Image: © Paulo Amorim / NurPhoto via ZUMA Press)
The late conservative philosopher Roger Scruton wrote a lot about the loss of beauty in modern life, and thought the “cult of utility” was beauty’s main opponent. The “utility” that worried Scruton was commercial; another writer summarized his view:
The cult of utility dismisses beauty in favor of the useful. It covers the landscape with advertisements, solar panel fields, landfills, and plastic bags floating like tacky leaves in the wind. . . . The cult of utility offers high-powered jobs with large incomes designed to maximize stockholder wealth, but not necessarily to make the world a better place.
Today, commercial utility requires barriers against the public. With governments unable or unwilling to stop riots and terrorism, every business takes on the aesthetic of security.
November 9, 2020, New York: Apple Store on 5th Avenue is totally fenced all around because of fear of looting that could take place after the result of the USA elections.(Credit Image: © Niyi Fote / TheNEWS2 via ZUMA Wire)
Without secure borders and law and order, barriers and men with assault rifles could become permanent parts of our lives.