To: Ellen V. Futter
President, American Museum of Natural History
New York 14, NY
Dear President Futter:
I, the statue of Teddy Roosevelt in front of the American Museum of Natural History, do humbly request you take me down.
First, there are the humanitarian reasons. I have been on this horse since 1939. If I had known I’d be here so long, I would’ve chosen a slightly less erect posture. My back is killing me. My rear-end is raw. Indubitably.
But my trials, though intense, are nothing compared to those of my colleagues, Fred and Terry. They aren’t even wearing shirts; that’s three-season discomfort, madam. Terry says “Pants are a human right,” and I agree. Then there is the issue of Fred’s warbonnet. For the first twenty years or so, Fred didn’t complain, he is a trouper. But anything starts to itch eventually.
“Why am I even wearing this thing?” he just asked. “I’m a model from Canarsie.”
I have no answer for them. Instead, I have taken up pen and paper, using this horse's head as a writing desk, to write a letter humbly asking for our decommission and removal, preferably indoors or, barring that, to a much warmer climate.
I have listened to the arguments, such as they are, for extending our service. Primarily they note Mr. Roosevelt’s praiseworthy achievements as a trust-buster and protector of the American wilderness.
Well, I can’t keep up on the news as much as I’d like, but occasionally a front page does blow across my face, and…I think those two areas in particular are pretty fucked up, don’t you?
Excuse my language, but this situation is dire. The three of us believe that any statue requiring 24/7 police protection is probably ready for retirement. (I’ve heard Boca is nice.)
If the goal of statuary is to encourage certain values—in this case, preventing Satanic corporate accretions to dominate and choke our society; and protecting our precious national lands from despoilage—I think we can all agree that I and my colleagues here are not doing a bang-up job.
(I do not include the horse in this. The horse has nothing to be ashamed of. I can only call him “the horse” because I do not recall his name. C-something, I think it was, or G-something. For the last 60 years or so he has become silent and resentful. I do not blame him. He’s standing on a slab of bare metal, must be hell on his knees. But people are treating horses better since 1939, and this is progress. But the other stuff? The Roosevelt stuff? Not so much.)
When the protestors come, I long to say to them, “Yes! I am with you. Did you know I was friends with Booker T. Washington? We had dinner together at the White House! I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that’s how crazy-racist people were then.”
But I can only sit here, mute, resolute, slightly constipated. I can only imagine how Fred and Terry and G-something feel.
Perhaps it is time for a new statue? Or, dare I say, another approach altogether? If the goal is commemoration, no mere statue can do that; each era selects from the past what it finds praiseworthy, based on what the present requires. Forced commemoration, commemoration that breeds conflict, is worse than useless; it is a marker of what should, indeed must, be ignored, discarded, perhaps even destroyed.
If the purpose of our eternal suffering is education, here’s a radical idea: how about teaching? Are there no schools, no textbooks, no teachers? Surely that little device everyone is staring at as they walk by could inculcate future generations more efficiently than me and Fred and Terry and G-something. Yes, back in the old days it was different. But if the Romans had invented the internet, I don’t think I’d be sitting here getting shat upon, do you?
I think the four of us are actually preventing people from going into the Museum. Just yesterday I heard one large quasi-child say to the other, “Nah, I’ve never gone in. Buncha old-tymey bullshit.”
Yes, he used the “y” formulation. Fred and Terry will back me up on this.
What you do with us post-removal is up to you. All we ask is, make it a spot with fewer urinating drunks or amorous couples—what my colleagues and I have seen in our tyme…it’s been a Rough Ride. Indubitably. ◊
MICHAEL GERBER is Editor & Publisher of The American Bystander. Subscribe if you must.