We’ve finally found somebody more pathetic than sports journalists who won’t stick to sports: science journalists who won’t stick to science. Okay, okay, you can argue that they haven’t done that since they got climate change religion. And you’d be right.
But now Popular Mechanics is aiding and abetting vandalism. On June 15, it published “How to Topple a Statue Using Science.” Really. Actually, the title of the browser tab is “How to Remove a Racist Statue.” The distinction is a good idea. You don’t want our fine young Year Zero-ers accidentally erasing, say, an abolitionist.
According to PM’s James Stout, “From Bristol, England to Birmingham, Alabama, people all over the world have been grappling with the legacy of racism by tossing their grappling hooks around the heads of problematic monuments.” That’s … one way of putting it. More:
Should you happen to find yourself near a statue that you decide you no longer like, we asked scientists for the best, safest ways to bring it to the ground without anyone getting hurt—except, of course, for the inanimate racist who’s been dead for a century anyway.
Now that at least deals honestly with the impulse behind the vandalism -- you just decide you don’t like a statue so you destroy it. And PM is there for you! What follows is indeed practical advice for young Taliban.
“The Physical Approach” discusses the tensile strengths of various metals (handy chart and all). “The Chemical Approach” gives tips on creating a “thermite reaction” to melt the statue’s ankles.
Though all this, PM stresses accomplishing your erasure of history safely. Which is too bad, really, since the only upside to the destruction of property is the chance that the vandal gets a good bonk on the dreadlocks when the likeness of that racist old rebel general or Quaker abolitionist comes crashing down.