Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Essay on Charlottesville, Statues, Monuments and Nihilism

It’s hard to come up with anything good to say about the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. I can’t, except to say they have the First Amendment right to peacefully demonstrate and protest. The American Civil Liberties Committee (ACLU) and Los Angeles Times share that view. The City of Charlottesville attempted to move the permitted march to another location away from the Robert E. Lee Statue. The ACLU represented the organizations in defending their First Amendment rights. It’s easy to condemn the KKK, neo-Nazis and White Supremacists with their history of hatred and violence and blame the violence in Charlottesville on them. Yet Antifa in its short life has engaged in several violent demonstrations as they believe they have the right to confront “violent” organizations with violence even if the demonstrators are acting peacefully. And yet the police stood back as the violence unfolded. I don’t care what phrase the South uses for the Civil War. They can refer to it as the War Between the States, That Recent Unpleasantness, The War of Northern Aggression, The Lost Cause, The Noble Cause; it doesn’t matter. They lost. The slaves were freed, at least from slavery, but they had to wait another century for freedom. That came when a supposed racist Congressman and Senator from Texes, LBJ, became President of the United States and pushed through Congress over the objections of the South the Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A united United States emerged from the Civil War. And now comes the nihilists and snowflakes of the Removal Movement. The Centennial School District in the Portland, Oregon area announced it was changing the names of Lynch Wood and Lynch Meadows Elementary Schools because of complaints about the name “Lynch.” The schools were named for Patrick Lynch who donated land in the late 1800’s. The only historic lynchings in Oregon were of whites. Saphia Jackson, Co-Director of the University of Southern California Black Student Assembly, has asked USC to rename its mascot horse “Traveler” because General Robert E. Lee had a horse named “Traveller.” Robert Saulko purchased the horse in 1958, which had been named Traveler by its prior owner. Saulko rode Traveler I across the LA Coliseum during a USC football game in 1958. The one-time act became a USC tradition. USC is now on Traveler VII. USC’s Traveler has nothing to do with General Lee’s two “L” Traveller, but such is the craziness sweeping the country today. One view is that nothing should be named for slave owners. By this reasoning, Stone Mountain with its carvings of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis should be blown up. Two of the four figures on Mount Rushmore, those of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, must be carved out of the mountain. That would send a message to the world of how far America has descended. The American people would have stooped to the levels of the Taliban at the Bamiyan Buddhas and ISIS in Palmya in destroying the world’s cultural heritage. On the other hand, the National Park Service said the Confederate monuments at Gettysburg shall remain just as those of the Union statues and monuments. Gettysburg is the history of the North and South. Ten Presidents of the United States owned slaves, some while President. The slave owners include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachery Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and even Ulysses S. Grant. Benjamin Franklin owned two slaves before he became an abolitionist. Francis Scott Key, who penned the Star-Spangled Banner National Anthem, owned slaves, represented slave owners seeking return of fugitive slaves, and as United States Attorney in Washington, D.C. prosecuted abolitionists. He also though represented slaves and favored shipping ex-slaves to Liberia. President Trump was derided for asking what’s next? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? A Chicago pastor asked Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rename two parks; i.e. strip the names of President George Washington and Andrew Jackson off two Chicago parks. He suggested perhaps renaming them Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson Parks. The Reverend Al Sharpton, of Tawana Brawley fraudulent rape claim, has said it’s time to level the Jefferson Memorial. It doesn’t end going back to 1860 and secession. Nihilists in Baltimore last night trashed a 1792, 44’ obelisk of Christopher Columbus. Columbus Day is under attack in parts of the country on the grounds that Christopher Columbus unleashed the white European invasion of the Americas, subjugating and enslaving the Natives. Fr. Junipero Serra is similarly on precarious grounds. Fr. Serra, who died in 1784 is one of California’s two statues in Congress’ Statuary Hall. The Franciscan missionary founded 12 missions in California, including Carmel, Monterey, San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. He is also accused of unleashing the Spanish mistreatment of the Native Californians. A paper was recently published seeking the renaming of Stanford University. Governor Leland Stanford, Sr. is accused of participating in the genocidal shootings of Native Californians. Of course, Stanford University is technically the Leland Stanford, Jr. University, named in memory of the son – not the father. Governor Stanford kept California in the Union during the Civil War despite a large Southern sympathy in the state. Stanford is no more likely to change its name than Brown University, which was founded/funded with slave trade revenues. Statues and monuments are falling throughout the South, and even elsewhere in the country. The key is identifying where. It is in primarily African American cities and in states like Virginia with a Democratic Governor. Many of these cities are plagued by high crime rates, high Black unemployment, poor educational systems, high drug rates, and lack of opportunity. Baltimore is a prime example. Its homicide rate is reaching astronomical levels. Confederate monuments are neither its problem nor solution. Nor is police violence the largest criminal problem in these cities. It’s easier for the politicians to demagogue the Confederacy rather than address jobs, crime, drugs, and education. However, if the citizens of these cities wish the removal of the statues and monuments, then that should be their choice. Parts of the North are seized by the paroxysm. We don’t have buildings, cities, even states, named for the nation’s founders because they owned slaves. Nor do we have monuments and statues erected for them because they owned slaves. We honor the Presidents and Generals, such as Washington, Jackson and Grant, because of their contributions to the American nation, which they created, built, and preserved. We are here today because of them. The statues and monuments to purely fighters for the South, such as many generals, including Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the KKK, are different. Their contributions were fighting for the Lost Cause. General Robert E. Lee is respected as a great military leader, but his contribution to the United States is great. The Civil War was lost by the South. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House. The defeated general then preached peace and reconciliation. He did not carry on the fight. He served as an example to many Southerners to move on and rebuild. Obviously not all did. General Nathan Bedford Forrest became the national leader of the KKK. President Andrew Jackson could be doubly damned, first for being a slave owner and second for the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Native Americans from the Southeast to the Oklahoma Territory. California’s Attorney General Earl Warren was one of the two movers of placing the Japanese Americans in concentration camps in World War II. He never apologized for his actions. A statue of President Clinton is in Rapid City, South Dakota. Juanita Broaddick and Paula Jones, two of his victims, are demanding the statue of the accused rapist be removed. Ten Army bases are named for Confederate Officers: Camp Beauregard, and Forts Benning, Bragg. Gordon, A.P. Hill, Hood, Lee, Pickett, Polk and Rucker. Two of our aircraft carriers are named for segregationist legislators, The John B. Stennis and Carl Vinson, made famous in the Osama Bin Laden raid. A third carrier is named for President George Washington. Once unleashed the frenzied fury of radical revolutionaries becomes uncontrollable, such as the French and Russian Revolutions. I see Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and Chairman Mao unleashing the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. I hope we show more sense if choosing what part of the nation’s cultural heritage to remove and retain. Statues and monuments serve as a symbol. Southerners do not aspire to the recreation of the old slave owning South. They don’t see them as a repression of African Americans. The Confederate statues and monuments represent the Southern cultural repudiation of Washington D.C. and the progressive agenda. The demolition of history does not erase history. Attempts to rewrite or obliterate history to fit a currently popular norm simply increases the ignorance level of our campus snowflakes and fragility of the “victimhood.” We see it all now – Confederate statues and monuments, Washington and Jefferson, Christopher Columbus and Fr. Serra – the obliteration of a half millennium of the history of the American people. Suddenly, revered figures become George Orwell’s “unpersons.” It’s easy to destroy; hard to build. Centuries can be erased in seconds by nihilists. George Santayana wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” also phrased as “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

No comments: