THE debate over the removal of statues and monuments rumbles on, with their destruction sought by those who see their subjects’ views and activities as abhorrent by today’s standards. It all begs the obvious question as to where we draw the line.

As I cycle round Edinburgh I pass many statues on a daily basis. The magnificent statue of David Hume, the Enlightenment philosopher, is located on the Royal Mile. However, Hume famously noted: “I am apt to suspect the negroes to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilised nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation.”

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On The Mound stands a statue to the Black Watch and its role in the Boer War, a war which saw the brutal incarceration of tens of thousands of men, women and children in the precursor of the modern concentration camp.

Within the quadrangle of New College stands the statue of John Knox, who famously attacked the “monstrous regiment of women”, arguing that female dominion over men was against God and nature.

In Princes Street Gardens stands the statue of explorer David Livingstone, viewed in some quarters as the “patron saint” of imperialism in Africa.

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Turn an eye to Calton Hill and one can see the Nelson Monument, constructed in honour of Lord Nelson, a man who supported the slave trade and virulently opposed the abolitionist movement.

We can off course pull all these down, leaving pretty little left, but if would leave our cities with little clue as to their past. Indeed, the monuments we may want to replace them with will likewise face the same fate in the future.

Alex Orr

IT was interesting reading Thursday’s letters on what to do with the statues of latter-day convicted criminals. A few years ago I went up Ben Bhraggie to that huge statue of a tyrant, The Marquis of Stafford. It took me by surprise to find conflicting views on him in east and west Sutherland.

Remember the name of the football team in Golspie is Golspie Stafford. Their Duke improved the lives of his supporters, who to this day are in denial of the ethnic cleansing carried out in his name. Like street names, should that football team be forced to change its name? No, educate about where the name and all the street names originated. I recall a debate In Dublin about street names in the 1980s or early 90s and the view was leave and educate.

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Likewise, leave these statues and imprison them, as if they are in jail for eternity. Not my idea, it came from a commission promoted by An Lantair in Stornoway around 1995. Back then An Lantair was a small gallery based in the upper floor of The town hall but feisty with clout!

Artists were asked to create what should be done to “The Mannie”. The prison one was undamaging to the monstrosity yet sentencing the despot to eternal imprisonment.

To date there has been silence form Trump about the removal of Confederate statues. Why? Each removal is worth thousands of votes for him – that’s Amerrika!

Much closer to my birthplace, Thursday’s National featured the sale of Ayrshire tatties by a supermarket. I get them fresher at a local corner shop, that’s a bit of geographic luck! It reminded me of in the 1970s “plunking” school to “go tae the tatties”. We did so on a farm with ethics. Neighbouring ones would bring in travelling folk form the Midlands of Scotland and Ireland. They were “housed” in byres for the wintering of cattle. They were abused for their culture. Aye, nae many kent aboot The Yellow on the Broom, Betsty White’s book on those wonderful Travelling Folk frae the berry fields of Blair.

Bryan Clark

THE statues of Colston, Dundas and many more were invariably erected by a divided society, commemorating the heroes of the winners of a divided society and now have their relevance disputed by a divided society. I don’t believe for a minute that all society of Edinburgh thought erecting the Melville statue in St Andrew Square was money well spent – it was being erected while many lived in poverty and squalor. Nor do I believe that those cleared by the Highland Clearances held the casting vote on the erection of the Mannie.

History is factual and can only be recorded by words, pictures and historical artifacts. Statues not included!

Let the heroes or otherwise of their time be recorded with the history of their time, and be sure to include in that record that it was at one time deemed appropriate to erect statues accentuating the positive deeds of heroes, while in so doing obscuring their less honourable deeds.

Maggie, anyone?

Tom Gray

READING about putting a plaque on the statue of Henry Dundas in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh instead of pulling it down, I can’t help but think of the Irish famine, where many starved and died; I know as a fact that some of my ancestors did during that awful time. It’s a haunting event in the psyche of anyone of Irish descent.

There are famine statues around the world wherever the Irish settled, to mark and remember the horror of the event. Plaques, just words, would be little noticed, just passed over if read at all. But a statue makes a strong, haunting, visual impression you can not avoid, and makes people stop.

A plaque is not enough on that statue of Dundas, his crime is too great. If you are going to keep that statue then rather you had too a statue of an enslaved, crushed human being beside it, to make people visualise the horror of what he perpetuated.

A plaque lets him off far too easily!

Crìsdean Mac Fhearghais
Dùn Èideann