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The unceremonious removal of its Theodore Roosevelt statue

The American Museum of Natural History, a wonderful institution founded in pursuit of science and truth, has been fulfilling a lifesaving mission for the past nine months, administering COVID-19 vaccines seven days a week. Under the great blue whale, more than 85,000 shots have been given to New Yorkers (including us). President Ellen Futter and Board of Trustees Chairman Lewis Bernard should be proud on behalf of the entire museum.

But Futter and Bernard should be ashamed at the way they exiled a true giant of history, Teddy Roosevelt, with a dead-of-night removal of his equestrian statue to be carted off to the godforsaken North Dakota Badlands for a future TR library that may never materialize.

His sin was to be portrayed in the 1939 bronze work on horseback next to armed native guides of the American West and Africa on foot. If the trio were all mounted or all standing, they would have had no “racial hierarchy” that the museum found upsetting. Add in a cowardly Bill de Blasio, and one of our greatest New Yorkers has been banished. He’s good enough for Mount Rushmore, but not for Central Park West.

TR was no saint; not even saints are saints. But in 60 years, he was governor, president, Medal of Honor recipient, Nobel Peace Laureate and much more. Now the words of his New York state memorial at the museum — Ranchman, Scholar, Explorer, Scientist, Conservationist, Naturalist, Statesman, Author, Historian, Humanitarian, Soldier and Patriot — frame an empty plaza.

Meantime, at the top of the structure remain statues of Daniel Boone, John James Audubon, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, slaveholders among them. They stay and TR gets hauled away? What would be fitting is a new heroic statue to the man in the arena.
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The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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