Next Step? Will Protesters Take Down Washington Monument?

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Demonstrators face the Washington Monument protesting in D.C. on May 25, 2020 (Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators face the Washington Monument protesting in D.C. on May 25, 2020 (Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

What lightening didn’t do to the Washington Monument protesters might. Just after midnight on Friday, June 5, lightening struck the monument in Washington, D.C.

Just days before, an award-winning professor tweeted instructions on how to “hypothetically” remove a structure such as an obelisk.

Space archeologist” Sarah Parcak is an anthropology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2016, she won a $1 million TED Prize. Parcak is also a National Geographic fellow and a recipient of Smithsonian magazine’s American Ingenuity Award. In 2020, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship.

On May 31, 2020, Parcak unrolled a Twitter thread with a “public service announcement” (PSA) on how to pull down a obelisk, a tower the shape of the Washington Monument.

Adding a disclaimer tweet that “this is all entirely hypothetical” and guiding her nearly 60k followers not to pull down the Washington Monument, Parcak offered a drawing of how to pull off taking down an obelisk.

The question of taking down monuments became a hot topic in 2017, but it’s is on the menu again during the 2020 riots with global interest, and have included the removal of a Texas ranger statue, state-specific statues, an attempt to destroy a statue of Christopher Columbus and even the defacing of a statue in London of Winston Churchill (who, even though he led Britain in their fight against the Nazis, has been deemed racist by the protesters).

There’s little to stop the attention of rioters to bigger targets, especially if protesters lock onto the issue of slave practices of our founding fathers, as BBC covered in 2017.

Earlier this week, the outer plaque the Lincoln Memorial was graffitied, after which rows of guards were promptly place at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s not unreasonable to think that America’s greatest monuments are under threat from domestic extremists.

The debate of removing statues is one that can be had, but forcibly removing statues is extremist behavior the world has seen before. We all remember the shock and horror of the Taliban launching a demolition of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan. We remember how ISIS destroyed priceless ancient statues in Iraq. In fact, National Geographic covered those stories, bemoaning the destruction — the same National Geographic at which Parcak is now a fellow.



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