UO Pioneer Father & Mother statues toppled from pedestals, as UO awaits new talking points from Pres Schill’s PR Flacks

Update: These two photos were both taken by Andrew Nelson, a photojournalist for the RG. The first is from Bagdad in 2003, just before a US Marine vehicle pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue. The second is from Eugene, today, from this RG report.

I’m posting them as a reminder that removing statues is a start, not an end.

Update: From the Daily Emerald here:

… “A university spokesperson could not be reached in time for publication.”

Someone really should alert the “Univ Communications – Storyteller Team” at [email protected]

6/13/2020: From Rachael McDonald at KLCC. 20 minutes and I’m still waiting for someone to leak the talking points from President Schill’s PR flacks on this:

(Note: McDonald has since tweeted a correction to the statement this was done by BIOPIC members)

Provost could solve budget crisis by auctioning off Pioneer Father

A modest proposal for Provost Patrick Phillips, from the 1/2 Price Provost:

Cutting Duck baseball and moving the Jock Box from the provost’s budget to the AD’s are the easy ways to raise $4M recurring for the academic side. Auctioning off Alexander Phimister Proctor’s statue of the Pioneer Father would be a stop-gap, while we wait for the new coach’s contract to run out.

Some in the UO community say the Pioneer Father is a racist reminder of the genocide perpetrated against Native-Americans. Others say it’s a handsome monument to the brave pioneers who turned Oregon from a savage wilderness into the fertile land we now enjoy.

I say money talks. So let’s auction if off – the winning bidder gets to decide whether to leave it in front of Johnson Hall, move it to the cemetery, put it in their garden, or melt it down for scrap. Lest you think this is exactly the kind of thinking that kept me from becoming provost, even at 1/2 price, the NYT reports today that Dallas Texas has already established the precedent by auctioning off their Alexander Phimister Proctor statue of the traitorous slaver Robert E. Lee, for $1.435M:

Dallas removes R.E. Lee statue by UO Pioneer Mother and Father sculptor

The Pioneer, by Alexander Phimister Proctor, on the UO campus between Fenton and Friendly Halls:

Call me a Yankee, but I’d thought General Ulysses S. Grant and President Abraham Lincoln had settled matters with Robert E. Lee and his ilk at Appomattox in April 1865, far beyond our poor power to add or detract.

However some southerners need an occasional reminder of just what their great-grandpappy’s unconditional surrender to the government of the United States meant, and the NYT reports that the Federal courts recently gave them another:

But at a hearing on Thursday, Judge Sidney Fitzwater of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed the lawsuit, which was brought by a Dallas resident and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The plaintiffs argued that the City Council, which had voted earlier on Wednesday to immediately remove the statue, had violated their First Amendment rights.

And the Washington Post reports today that Lee is now gone:

City officials said in a statement that an art conservator monitored the proper handling of the statue, and police tactical officers with automatic rifles provided security.

The statue was lowered onto a flatbed trailer for transport to an abandoned naval air station owned by the city on its western outskirts. It’s expected to remain there until city officials decide the statue’s future.

As explained in this fascinating op-ed in the Dallas News, Lee’s sculptor, A. Phimister Proctor, was a mountain man who sold his Colorado gold claim to go to New York, and then Paris to study with St. Gaudens. He lived from 1860 to 1950, and became America’s foremost animalier, working from a NYC studio that Stanford White designed for him. The famous Polish pianist Jan Paderweski loved his animal sculptures, and told him “I interpret; you create.”

Proctor lived in Eugene in the 1910’s with his family while he worked on UO’s Pioneer Mother and Father statues. His daughter married the son of Campbell Church, the man whom the fierce UO supporter and remarkable person Irene Hazard Gerlingher later convinced to donate his Treetops mansion to the University.

Proctor’s sculpture of Lee was unique in that it included an anonymous man on horseback representing the millions of southern white “useful idiots” who were, and still often are, duped by the rich and powerful to fight against their own economic self-interest and basic human decency to help in the oppression of others. I’m no expert on Diversity, Power, and Agency, but Karl Marx sure got that part right.

Proctor had nothing to do with slavery, although he did name his car after Lee’s horse Traveler, who by all accounts was loyal and beautiful: