LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Hudson was simply man of his time

Posted

To the editor:

(re: “Some take issue with Henry Hudson statue,” Aug. 31)

I read with great interest the Aug. 31 story on the Henry Hudson memorial, and the comments made in regards to the question of propriety.

First, I live within close view of the statue, and the news of barking dogs alarmed by the statue at night seems more like a dog problem or a dog-owner problem, than a statue problem. I have never heard these supposed dogs.

Secondly, a closer examination of the sculpture of the American Indians in question shows them to be not only dignified, but also noble, despite the subservient posture of one native. They embody a confident skepticism of their wary European counterparts.

Thirdly, Henry Hudson was a man of the early 17th century. To make Hudson (and those artists and people who honored his achievements in the more recent past) responsible for the deprivations imposed upon the indigenous people of the New World is quite a stretch.

A more productive approach for those concerned with the honorable treatment of Native Americans would be to support efforts at making the lives of all surviving native families as healthy and intact as possible.

My mother smoked when she was pregnant with me, but I still have her picture on the wall.

Harry McQuinn

Harry McQuinn,

Comments

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Michael Hinman

Implication of personal attack is a personal attack. Please stop this.

Friday, September 22
Jennifer Scarlott

Thanks for engaging on this issue, Harry McQuinn.

In mentioning the plaque on the pedestal of the statue of Henry Hudson (Henry Hudson Park, Spuyten Duyvil), in my letter to the editor of Aug 25, which The Press titled "Remove Hate from New York City," I was seeking to engage, post- the horrific events in Charlottesville, VA in mid-August, in the local and national debate around statuary, and in particular, whether it is right or appropriate for statues that honor historical figures who participated in enslavement, white supremacy, and genocide to be placed in or at public buildings, parks, and other public and government-connected places. Though as you suggest at the end of your letter, there are many ways to address historic grievances and wrongs, one such way, according to a great many people whose ancestors suffered those wrongs, and who suffer racism, discrimination, and criminal mistreatment in the present day, is to remove from public places, statuary that holds up hate, genocide, slavery, etc. I believe there are many ways to begin to try to repair wrongs -- this is one, and deemed more than symbolic, by the many people who are working on this front.

You say that Henry Hudson was a man of the 17th century. Yes, but any number of men, and women, of the 17th century, would not have made the choice to battle with and kidnap Native Americans whom they encountered on their own (Native American) territory. To suggest that all people of the 17th century were by nature barbaric and prone to genocidal and criminal behavior, is simply incorrect, and a "straw man" type of argumentation.

To be clear: My particular complaint with the Henry Hudson monument in Spuyten Duyvil is not so much with the statue of Henry Hudson as it is with the plaque depicting the, as you rightly put it, "subservient" Native American man kneeling at Hudson's feet. However, I think my and others' views of the plaque are far less important than the views of Native people. I'd be interested in hearing from Native people living in the Bronx and the area about it. That Henry Hudson is an iconic figure of this area, and in the history of white European exploration and eventual rapacious dominance of this continent, there is no doubt. Are there "worse" figures in our history? Sure. Those anonymous Dutchmen who massacred Indian men, women, children, and infants on the shores of Mannahatta some years after Hudson's departure, are among them.

As to the rather funny fixation on the dogs that you and a number of other commenters have evinced... after my letter to the editor was published, Anthony Capote, Riverdale Press reporter, called me to write a follow-up story ("Some take issue with Henry Hudson statue," 9/1/17). (The title of that piece is a bit of a misnomer because my particular concern, as I said above, is not so much with the statue of Hudson as with the plaque containing the Native American figures on one side of the pedestal.) In any case, in chatting with Mr. Capote, I shared an experience I'd had, when walking my own dog, in seeing a couple of very bright dogs of friends of mine notice the lit-up statue of Hudson at the top of the monument, and bark at it. We all (local night-time dog walkers), thought this was extremely funny. The inference by a number of commenters on various threads on this website that I feel that local dogs are bothered by the statue, and that I was proposing that that is another reason to consider the statue's removal, is pretty hysterical.

Friday, September 22
TruthTeller

Here were the words of the previous poster as written in the pages of the RP.

"“I have long been sort of awed by this massive statue of Henry Hudson in the park,” she said. “Sometimes at night when it is lit up, the dogs all bark at it because it looks like an actual man up in the sky.”:

It is very clear to me that you were not saying this was one isolated incident as you are trying to play off now. You were implying that this was a regular occurence, and it was just another example of fantastical thinking (i.e. a fantasy) that is so prevalent in your posts.

I am very glad also that the previous poster admits that her provincial and subjective feelings are not to be confused with the stance of Native Americans (whatever those are, people have been coming here for millenia so there are actually no "native" americans). The fact is, not one "Native" American has come forward to publicly decry this statue.

Hopefully this will not be misconstrued as a persoanl attack. I am using the posters words and presenting my response. There was nothing personal in here at all. I wish the RP would also apply the same standards though to the above poster, who is constantly labeling anyone who disagrees with her as "deplorable" or "racist," which are the terms most leftists lob at anyone they disagree with.

Friday, September 22
Jennifer Scarlott

For folks interested in these questions, recommended reading on the topic of Native American attitudes to statues of colonists, "conquerors", etc:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/us/statue-foot-new-mexico.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Sunday, October 1