THE trouble with those who commit vandalism is that by nature they are stupid, warped, ignorant and cowardly. There is no chance, for example, of those who daubed "racist king" on the statue of Robert the Bruce ever coming forward to argue their point in a lucid and educated manner, for by definition such vandals are pathetically dense.

It could, of course, be just a wind-up by some knuckle-headed nitwit trying to have a thrill by causing upset. Well, you might say, the current Tory government does that every day, so why shouldn’t a wee nyaff of an eejit not be allowed to do the same?

READ MORE: Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn defaced by 'BLM' graffiti

It should not be necessary to defend the reputation of King Robert but for the record let’s deal with the accusation of racism. It is blindingly self-evident that the Bruce could not have been involved in racist slavery or the suppression of black people because the slave trade did not involve Scotland or the Scots until a few centuries after he died in 1329. 

Most Scots of that time, including the Bruce, had no idea about Africa or indeed any country outside Europe, save for the Holy Land to where King Robert wanted to go on Crusade. There had been what is known as white slavery but by the year 1200 it was no longer extant in the British Isles due mainly to its prohibition by the Church. There was serfdom, but that was a white-on-white imposition.

Some might argue that the Bruce was racist in his views about the English. Undoubtedly he was biased against England, but the English monarchy and its followers had been trying to kill him for a large part of his life. That, and the declared intention of Edward Longshanks and his son to subjugate the Scots, seems a reasonable excuse for having a poor opinion and dislike of the English. But racist? I think not.

On a general point you do not unmake history by simple negations such as toppling statues or changing names, otherwise Washington DC or Washington state might now be facing identity change - President George Washington owned dozens of slaves, after all.

As a rule, we should not impose our modern sensitivities on the past. We should explain, however, with information at statues and elsewhere why we have progressed from the days of powerful white men, the slavers and racists, but of course to do that we must ensure that racism and modern slavery is eradicated in the present day. That's much harder than defacing statues, so probably won't happen, and the paintcan pipsqueaks will carry on regardless.