Why I am Still Ashamed you "Capped the Fearless Girl Statue"

This OpEd is a response to Joe Enders's article, "Why I Capped the Fearless Girl"

 Photo from the New York Times

Photo from the New York Times

I am ashamed that you “Capped the Fearless Girl Statue,” but I think not for the reasons you would expect. I am disappointed, not because you expressed your political opinion, of which you are perfectly entitled to, but because of the blatant disrespect that you showed for public property, and for The King’s College.

I hoped that your OpEd in the Empire State Tribune would be enlightening—that it would show me that this display was about more than a “funny prank.” I hoped that it would tell me that there was an idea that predicated your actions, a desire to start a conversation about issues or differing opinions. Alas, that is not what I found. Instead, I found vanity and apathy.

This isn’t about the political ideas that you expressed, but rather about the hijacking of a symbol and using that symbol for ends towards which it was not intended. No matter your personal beliefs, it is not your right to make the statue say what you want.

When I heard the story about how a couple people from my school vandalized a statue, I was peeved. That is not the way a man of The King’s College should conduct himself. And I won’t say that these two have the right to conduct their affairs as they see fit, because in this situation they did not have the right. The “Fearless Girl” statue belongs to someone, and she stands, literally and figuratively, for more than even what that ownership can entail.

Regardless of whether or not you like it, she does stand for something. There is no “supposedly” in her stance, because you do not define her stance. She is not a symbol for either of us, but rather an icon of the ideal world which we are trying to move towards. This is not political correctness—it’s natural rights. Women around the world use the “Fearless Girl” as a rallying cry and a monument that gives voice and credence to their unjust treatment, and it is wrong for you to take that away.

Once again, everyone has a right to their own political ideas, no matter how much other people disagree with them. This isn’t about the political ideas that you expressed, but rather about the hijacking of a symbol and using that symbol for ends towards which it was not intended. No matter your personal beliefs, it is not your right to make the statue say what you want. Stand by with your signs, wear your hats, and champion your meme frog, for those are your rights—but by giving these things to the “Fearless Girl,” you showed that your desires were not for conversation, but for attention.  

Pranking can be fun and well-intentioned, and I am not one to mount a high horse on the issue. However, your pranks show that you did not desire to talk about issues, but rather to have fun and gain notoriety. You explicitly say that your purpose was “to reach out to other online right-wingers and utilize the 24-hour camera pointing at the statue. The first day I went out with the hat and a sign that read “Pepe,” and I posted it on Facebook, 4chan, and Twitter. I initially thought it would be funny and would let my friends have a laugh, but instead it became an internet sensation.” You did it, not to be funny, but to garner a reaction. Funny is doing it one night, taking a photo and running like hell for fear of police officers. Vanity is doing the same thing numerous times with full knowledge, and in full view of, security cameras.

I am not disappointed in your signs, your hats or your views, but the means by which you sought to display those views and the impact this had on the King’s community. I am not the official voice of the community, but I don’t believe that people were mad about your stance—rather, about your actions in relation to the broader community to which we all belong.

This is about representation of our community. The one thing that we all are guaranteed to share in common in this city is where we go to college, and I, for one, am tremendously proud of it. I am disappointed that two of my peers would disrespect a fantastic piece of sculpture that is dedicated to the empowerment of others. You had no right, you had no vision, you had no goals; you had hubris and disregard for the reality of the statue's meaning. In your tell-all article I saw no remorse, no desire for open conversation or thought of the implications that your actions had on others in your community. I saw only an attempted justification of your actions.

I want to have open conversations about the controversial things that happen in our community because that is the only way we can understand one another and continue to grow together. So call me, Joe, and let’s grab a cup of coffee and show the King’s community that this is about more than two men writing back and forth, but about ideas, actions and conversations.

The opinions reflected in this OpEd are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, faculty and students of The King's College