The August scuttling of the statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina by activists sparked intense debate about whether monuments to controversial historical figures, particularly those connected with support for slavery, should remain standing, or be scrubbed permanently.
Other countries became embroiled in the dispute, in particular the UK — and as the month drew to a close, Afua Hirsch, a columnist for the Guardian, argued that Nelson's Column in London should be toppled.
I admit I did think we'd won argument over apartheid. Seems I was wrong. If u don't believe me, look in my timeline https://t.co/jJdS7zmuVu— Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch) August 23, 2017
Hirsch justified her position on the basis the venerated seaman was a "white supremacist" — a man who, while many around him were denouncing slavery, was "vigorously defending" the practise.
"Britain's best known naval hero — so idealized that after his death in 1805 he was compared to no less than "the God who made him" — used his seat in the House of Lords and position of huge influence to perpetuate tyranny, serial rape and exploitation organized by West Indian planters, some of whom he counted among his closest friends," Hirsch wrote.
Social media users expressed their reactions to the idea of removing Nelson's Column, with some criticizing or agreeing with the suggestion and others plainly expressing irony and sarcasm.
We should replace Nelson's Column with a statue of Ozymandius. #NelsonsColumn— A Kelly (@AidanKelly4) September 5, 2017
I've found the Guardian to run very disingenuous stories. They promoted/commissioned the article that suggested the removing #NelsonsColumn— Free Speech (@arennie44) August 31, 2017
Some bellend suggested removing Nelsons column. Which one would like to see demolished?— Millwall Scott (@Scott_1690_) September 5, 2017
I see! A journo wrote an opinion piece on #NelsonsColumn & the Twitter mob sprang into action. Non-story seized on by the easily distracted— Mark Dyson (@DysonMarkA) September 5, 2017
Nelsons column goes and so does our democracy. It will be the end of UK. Let someone in authority squash this madness immediately— Bozley (@Flashbozley) August 25, 2017
Nelson's Column imposingly towers over Trafalgar Square, an area often regarded as London's absolute heart — Lord Admiral Nelson, the hero of Britain's 1805 naval victory over France and Spain in the Battle of Trafalgar, stands atop the 52-meter pillar, guarded by four mammoth lions sculpted from iron.
Inarguably one of the UK capital's defining landmarks, few if any of London's 19 million annual visitors can avoid crossing paths with the monument, and perhaps no resident of the city past or present has failed to pay the site a visit at least one. However, while for most the spectacle is an epic testament to Britain's former grandeur, others consider it a permanent reminder of something far darker.