An Interesting and Thoughtful Post by Brian H. Spitzberg

I have never seen this many reactions to a post, as I we had on the issue on Racism, Statutes, and Monuments.

One of the best posts that I read recently was by Brian H. Spitzberg.  I have known him for more that 40 years, when we were debaters at UT Arlington.  He is Senate Distinguished Professor in the School of Communication at San Diego State University. His primary areas of research involve interpersonal communication skills, jealousy, conflict, coercion, violence, and stalking.  This is one of his books:

The Dark Side of Relationship Pursuit: From Attraction to Obsession and Stalking (2nd Edition) by Brian H. Spitzberg and William R. Cupach (Routledge; 2 edition, 2014)

He writes:

Statues are not referents. But as symbols, they are literally raised to a stature of prominence for collective public adulation, when they do not represent the collective public. And worse, they represent (symbolize) dominance over substantial portions of that collective population. The symbol is not the thing it represents, but equivalent with this axiom of communication theory is that meaning is in people, not in the symbol itself. If large segments of the population’s values, indeed, existence, are no longer represented by those statues, publicly funded statements of honorific aspiration and honor, then those people are going to seek to effect change in a societal system long demonstrated as racist in its representation of their civic presence. Your example of Hitler is instructive. Can you point to a public statue of Hitler anywhere in the world? If erected, would you be surprised, much less object, to it being torn down? Hitler wanted to eliminate a race. Many of the persons represented by these statues wanted to enslave a race. You are on the wrong side of history on this one, as are the statues. I personally tend to object to publicly funded statues of historical persons in general, as they are often flawed in ways that send very mixed messages. It bothers me, for example, that MLK engaged in plagiarism in his dissertation, a behavior I fail students for as unethical behavior. I respect Einstein immensely, but he was an adulterer and a rather bad family member. In general, we should honor values and ideals rather than people. But there are much better personages and much worse, and it is time that many of our worse sources of public adulation undergo a reevaluation. And as with so many things in public life, had the violence not initiated the downfall of these statues, the legislative process of such downfall that is now being seriously debated across the country, probably would not have occurred. I am not a fan of civil disobedience in general, but historically speaking it has often been the primary engine of much of the social justice reforms that have happened in our country.

2 thoughts on “An Interesting and Thoughtful Post by Brian H. Spitzberg

  1. karl Post author

    I enjoyed FFBS as always last Friday. Thank you and hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend.

    I know you and I have different political views so will limit my comments to this one email after thinking about your Review of Stamped from the Beginning and hearing your views about Racism.

    Two events really struck me on the subject of Racism, this past week.

    First, I did find the book, Stamped from the Beginning, and your comments on Racism to be quite interesting and learned some things I didn’t know.

    Second, Claire and I watched the Documentary, Uncle Tom, by Larry Elder and featuring my friend, LT. Col West, Larry Elder, Herman Cain, and other prominent Black leaders. You can also get an intro to Elder’s, West’s and other Conservative Black Leader’s ideas in Uncle Tom, (if you choose not to see it) from: What the Left won’t tell you about the Plight of Black People & the Myth of Systemic Racism

    I can see and have some understanding of the various sides to the Race Issue, and am quite concerned about two things:

    Believe the current Anti-Racial protests with things like Defunding the Police, Rioting, Pulling Down Historical Statues, & Black Lives Matter, which appears to be a Marxist, Democrat funding machine, are both polarizing the issue, as well as turning off a lot of people.

    I don’t believe they are addressing the root causes of the problems of our African American Citizens which I believe are:
    Poor Education in our Big Cities.
    Fatherless Culture.
    Government poverty funding programs which encourage and keep Blacks in poverty and Fatherless families.
    Black Leaders and politicians, who seem to not address the real problems, but keep their people in poverty, anti-police, and Democrat voters. I don’t believe they represent the Martin Luther King approach to the problem, but rather are keeping themselves in power.

    I have many Black/African American Friends including the first Black Graduate of USNA in my class, among the first Black Graduates at HBS; Black mentees I have helped; fellow Rotary Members and our Programs, where we help many Blacks in Dallas through numerous programs; Lt. Col West; Kerney LaDay (Now deceased-Former top Marketing Executive at Xerox) and his family, my favorite Golf Partner at Bent Tree for many years. Of all of those, only one, a Rotary Member, believes the current Anti- Racism efforts are on the right track and most feel they will get negative results for those in the Big Cities will suffer even more if police back off or are defunded.

    Don’t need a reply, but welcome your thoughts on how we best fix the root cause problems.

    I don’t know the answers and don’t see any of the politicians having any good answers either.

    All good things to you.


  2. karl Post author

    Very nice , Karl. Thanks for sharing. I have never been a fan of statues of famous people myself. There are statues though I do prefer (Iwo Jima monument is an example or the Statue of Liberty) because of their symbolic nature and the inspiration of them. No glorification of an individual. Again, thanks for sharing such an insightful piece/


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