Ryan L. Fox
There seems to be a new trend that is going around nowadays. It’s nothing electronic nor does it involve doing something with the human body. Rather, it involves rope, statue, and a crowd of people. Give up on what it is? It’s statue toppling.
Recently many people (most with a liberal political mindset) have been going around many towns in the southern states and been pulling down and toppling statues of former Confederate generals. Now to avoid an angry debate down within the comments below, let’s focus on which statues being topple were the most memorable from what we saw in news to sports to even the world of entertainment.
5. Emperor Palpatine Statue on Coruscant
If you are a Star Wars fan, you know what this is all about. For those who are not in the know, here’s the breakdown. In Return of the Jedi, we see the Rebel Alliance finally top the Empire cultivating with Darth Vader vanquishing Emperor Palpatine by throwing him to his death on the Death Star II. It was in the later ‘Special Edition’ versions that we saw on Coruscant that a giant statue of Palpatine was taken down (just fast forward to 1:21-1:28 to see it in the clip). Granted, the people used explosives instead of ropes but it still counts as a statue topple.
4. General Robert E. Lee & Other Confederate Statues
We go from the world of Star Wars to the world of real life (frankly, I would have preferred to stay and fight storm troopers). This has been a hot topic for a long time of whether or not to keep up statues of Confederate Generals like Robert E. Lee in different towns in different states below the Mason-Dixon Line. Just in the past couple of years, all these statues have been toppled down either by the likes of protestors and/or state government officials. Whatever side you choose to be on (yah or nah), you can’t
3. Ukrainians toppling Vladimir Lenin
Back on November of 2013, there was going to be an agreement between the European Union and Ukraine where the Ukraine conforms to the rules and regulations of the EU in return for essentially more rights & freedoms (i.e. equal rights for workers, visa-free movement of Ukrainians). However former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych suspended the preparations, which angered Ukrainians and they ousted him in February of 2014. Russia then got involved by taking over the Crimea peninsula, which led to protests and violent conflicts between Russian and Ukrainian forces and almost went into a full blown war.
So where does the statue toppling come in to play? Well if you’re an anti-Russian Ukrainian protestor, what better way to do so than to topple statues of one the country’s most ‘prolific leaders’ Vladimir Lenin. Combined that with the fact the Soviet Union brutalized Ukrainians in the past and the hatred for that never really died in said Ukrainians and well…stuff is going to go down.
2. Saddam Hussein Statue in Firdaus Square, downtown Bagdhad, April 9, 2003
It was back in 2003 during the closing days of Operation: Iraqi Freedom. After US Forces went into Baghdad and ousted Saddam Hussein, many Iraqi citizens saw this as an opportunity to take down the statue of the man whose regime had been brutalizing them for decades. With the help of an M88 Recovery Vehicle (essentially a tank), the statue was pulled off its pedestal and crashed to the ground where it was then wailed on and eventually destroyed by Iraqi citizens with sledgehammers.
Some people will say this whole thing was a giant photo op, others might say that this led to the modern day turmoil with the rise of ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups in the region. But for one moment, all eyes were on one little square in Baghdad as American and Iraqi citizens united in celebration of the overthrow of a terrible dictator.
1. Caging a Nittany Lion
If you thought people were getting pissed off about Robert E. Lee’s statue getting taken down, they were stark raving mad when Joe Pa’s statue was removed from Beaver Stadium at Penn State back in 2012. The reason that this statue was taken down wasn’t for something that Paterno did. Rather it was for something he didn’t due.
A year before, it came out that former Penn State assistant coach and convicted sexual predator Jerry Sandusky had been sexual abusing children during his tenor with the football program. Even though there were accounts and suspicions that Sandusky had been doing this as far back as the 1970s, he was officially charged with sexually abusing children between 1994 and 2009. While this was going on, Joe Paterno, as well as Penn State officials like school president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, and school vice president Gary Schultz, knew what was going on and essentially tried to cover it up.
To make a long story short, there was an investigation of Penn State that showed that in fact Sandusky had been sexually abusing children and that the school’s football program and as well as school officials had been covering it up. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse, Spanier resigned, while Schultz, Curley, and Paterno were fired. The NCAA levied sanctions against the Penn State football program and school as well as discontinued any awards associated with Paterno.
During the investigation as well as Sandusky trial, there was an outcry from everybody to remove the statue of Joe Paterno because it reminded people of the sexual abuse that had occurred under Paterno’s watch and he did nothing to halt it. So on July 22, 2012, six months after the passing of Paterno himself, Penn State took down the statue and put it in storage.
There’s still a debate whether or not it was the right thing to do to remove Joe Pa’s statue. But if it was left up there today, you can bet that there would be many confrontations over what to with it between victims of sexual abuse and Penn State fans and alum.
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