The protests against racial inequality that started in Minneapolis with the murder of George Floyd have spread across the globe. In the process, the scope has broadened to include many topics of social injustice that are tied more closely to the areas in which the protests are taking place.
In Belgium, protestors recently severely damaged a statue of controversial colonial-era King Leopold II that stood in Antwerp. King Leopold II has long been a divisive part of Belgian history; he essentially annexed the Congo in the late 1800s and ran a brutal dictatorship there that resulted in widespread corruption, terror, murder, and other atrocities for the local populace while the King plundered the country’s natural resources for personal gain. He’s a bad dude, and there are many in Belgium who have long wanted this statue gone.
The 150-year old statue apparently received “extensive damage” in the Antwerp protests and has been removed pending restoration. But there’s now an online Change.org petition that suggests that the statue of Leopold be replaced by a younger, better Son of Antwerp — Tottenham Hotspur and Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld.
Here’s the description from the petition, run through the Google Translate machine:
“It is now clear that the removed statue of Leopold II in the center cannot come back there. The damage expresses a message that would make it impossible, or perhaps even inappropriate, to replace it. Since that place is now vacant, I think it would be a good idea to replace this image with an image of a real local hero: Toby Alderweireld. In addition to being a talented and successful footballer, Toby is known to have never forgotten his roots: the stories of homesickness during his Ajax period are widely known, and he has the cathedral tattooed on his arm. Therefore, he certainly deserves to be honored in the central square of his own village. A man who represents our entire nation internationally, puts the village of Ekeren on the map and is welcomed by people of all backgrounds. Sign this petition! He deserves it! Toby or not Toby, that’s the question.”
Look, I’m not Belgian but this King Leopold seems like a pretty nasty dude. Statues should be of people who inspire people, and Toby is certainly more inspirational than a genocidal dictator who conquered a poor African nation and stripped it of its resources. Plus, as Spurs fans, who wouldn’t want to see Toby and his Marine Tex-styled hair depicted in bronze in the center of a major European city? I’d make a special trip to Antwerp just to pose in front of it.
At the time of this article posting, there are 515 signatures to this petition, just over halfway to the goal of 1000. I figure Carty Free readers can make a significant dent in what remains, don’t you?
Colonialism = bad. Toby’s hairstyle = good! This would be a more optimal result than almost anything else I can think of. Let’s make a difference, fam.