Please, let’s stop pretending that William McKinley is a misunderstood good guy deserving the place of honor on the Arcata Plaza.Yes, he fought for the Union, but that’s kind of expected, being born and raised in Ohio. He campaigned on expanding rights for black Americans. Once in office, reforms never happened; he remained silent as hundreds of blacks were lynched.
The Spanish-American war and the Pacific Conquest followed, where, under the banner of Manifest Destiny, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people were slaughtered. McKinley believed they were incapable of ruling themselves and could only be saved by accepting Christianity and foreign occupation.
He signed laws decimating human and property rights of Native Americans.
McKinley was spared presidential obscurity only by the misfortune of assassination. His statue occupies our Plaza because one rich local adored him enough to commission its creation and donate it, at a time so soon after his death that any resistance to it would have appeared treasonous.
Now, if Arcata had statues of historical figures scattered about town, and McKinley were just one of them, there might not be a problem. But, in Arcata, we have one plaza, and one statue. That statue is William McKinley, and he stands at the symbolic center of our city, which is a big problem.
Standing there, McKinley appears to represent all citizens of Arcata, but no matter how you dress him up, he does not represent the values of most Arcatans.
Please vote no on Measure M.
Dave Meserve, Arcata