As I’ve said in the past, I’m not a fan of Nazi’s. Anti-Semitism sickens me. It’s also deeply insane, as the Jewish people are some of the most industrious, creative, and inspiring people in the world. I have family and relatives who are Jewish; some of my closest friends are Jewish.
Racism against black Americans is just as deeply troubling. African Americans have helped shape our country. Prominent black leaders helped make America what it is, from the very beginning. Hating someone because of the color of their skin is stupid, childish, and ultimately self-defeating.
As a Yankee, I even understand many black Americans’ disgust for Confederate icons. Coming from the North, I have zero sympathy, interest, or compassion for men who led the South in a bloody and violent revolt. A revolt that started largely over slavery. I can understand why many Americans, black, white or otherwise, would see statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders as an ugly reminder of a dark period in our nation’s history.
For black Americans, it is a reminder that their ancestors, their great-grandfathers perhaps, were owned and dehumanized. It’s beyond painful. It can be humiliating and demoralizing.
But should we tear down their statues? Should the decision on how to treat that part of our history be decided by angry activists, who seem to carry with them a disgust over—not just Confederate history—but our entire country’s history?
I’ve written in the past about how radical leftists’ philosophy is very different from conservatives and most non-liberals. They don’t see America’s history as a proud and victorious one. They don’t consider the story of our Independence something to cherish. They don’t think about our Founding Fathers with pride, including James Madison, who penned the all-important Bill of Rights.
To them, America is a problem that needs to be fixed. The Founding Fathers were evil monsters because they were, by and large, wealthy slave owners. For some, it’s just enough that they were white men. Because of their flaws, all of their great accomplishments should be rejected. The very principles upon which the United States was founded don’t matter. America—to them—was built on slavery, oppression, exploitation, and persecution. Therefore its identity, history, and virtues should be erased, replaced by something else.
Yes, there is some ugly stuff in America’s past. Charlottesville proved there’s some ugly stuff in America’s present. But does that mean our laws, traditions, and love of liberty should be discarded? Does it mean that the Judeo-Christian principles that inspired our Founding Fathers to fight tyranny should be ignored? Does that mean the Western values that led to the formation of a democratic republic, one unlike any other, should be replaced with something else?
When you look at the agenda of the radical left, you don’t see anything pretty. At worst, they want to plunge America into chaos and anarchy, where the rule of law is replaced by mob violence. At best, they want to replace our society—built on the virtues of democracy, human rights, and capitalism—with some mutated form of socialism.
Time and again we’ve seen how socialism fails a country. Just look at how well the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics faired. Or the great socialist country of Venezuela. But I’m not interested in discussing that today. My real question is: should we tear down statues of people, just because we don’t like them?
Robert E. Lee led the Confederate army. He represented a period of time when the South rebelled from the Union over slavery. They fought a war where brother killed brother, in order to protect a practice that few today would condone.
Yet for many in the South, Robert E. Lee was not a slathering monster who wanted to torture black people. He was standing up for more than just slavery, he was standing up for the values and traditions of a region in the United States. A region that was watching everything it knew slip away.
The era leading up to the Civil War saw radical transformation throughout the country. America was growing. Technology was changing the way people worked, traveled, and lived. Industries were shifting, and the basic economy of the South was threatened. Many Southerners feared that the federal government—based very close to the North—would leave them behind.
In no way do I support the secession of the South or the subsequent war. But the issues facing the South were far more complex than just, “they were racist slave owners.”
The modern media want you to think in simple black and white terms. Trump supporters are racists. Liberals are limp wristed pansies (even I often admit there are many decent liberals). All cops want to kill black people. All whites enjoy a level of privilege that lets them suppress minorities.
Life is far more complicated than that. And even in the case of the Civil War, more was going on than just racists trying to hold onto slavery. People were dealing with radical changes to their way of life. They felt like the federal government—under the leadership of a Republican—was going to betray them (sound familiar, liberals?), violating their deeply-held beliefs.
Figures that led the Confederacy were—in their minds—standing up to oppression, injustice, and a federal government running out of control. Today, many southerners respect Lee and other leaders, not because they were racist slave owners, but because they fought to preserve the South, its values, and way of life.
If you can’t at least understand that aspect of the argument, you’ll never be able to get it. Every issue-- even controversial ones—have two legitimate sides. Even a stubborn pro-lifer like me understands the argument of pro-choice advocates. There are situations where abortion seems like the best option. I still abhor it, but I’m not so naïve as to claim all pro-choice people are vile baby-killers.
It’s the same with southerners’ support for Confederate leaders. It has far less to do with racism and slavery, and much more to do with remembering an important part of their past. To cherish the pride in their home state. To honor what it means to be from the South, an identity that can so easily be swept aside by pop culture, aggressive invasion of ideas from the West and East coasts, and the homogenization of society by the corporate media.
People who live outside the South often lack that kind of regional pride. They might not even know much about the leaders who helped shape and found their own cities and states. In this, we might learn a thing or two from our Southern brothers.
We also have to consider another important part of the problem. How does tearing down statues help us learn from the past? In a day and age when facts can easily be rewritten (thanks to Wikipedia and digital books), when teachers are hamstrung from telling the truth. An age when history can easily be forgotten or ignored. Remembering our past, even the ugly parts, is a vital part of preserving who we are. It’s necessary for us to pass on our culture, values, and identity to the next generation.
Do you know it’s against the law to deny the Holocaust in Germany? Why would they pass such a law? Because they will never allow people to forget the evils of Hitler and the Third Reich. So that future generations will remember—and never repeat it.
In the United States, there are those that want to erase our history. They hate our Founding Fathers, our traditions, and the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was founded. They’d like nothing more than future generations to know nothing about our real history. About who our leaders were, flaws and all. They’d reshape what we know and believe, to better control our society.
It only takes a generation to rewrite history and brainwash the populace, as George Orwell taught us.
But we can’t forget our history. We can’t forget the ugly truth that once our nation allowed the barbaric practice of owning another human being. That judges actually called slaves “property.” That black Americans—in many parts of our nation—had zero freedoms. And we also can’t forget the great struggle we endured to set them free.
Pain is a good thing. It’s a powerful teacher that makes us who we are. As Captain Kirk once said, “I need my pain!”
Being reminded of the sins of the past helps us to avoid them in the future. It casts our history in an honest light. Yes, we have great men and women who shaped our country. But every last one of them had flaws. Every single great person who made America what it is had a dark side. Even the greats like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington did things, or at least benefitted from things, that we don’t like.
Does that make them evil? Does that make them our enemies? Does that mean we should tear down their monuments and memory? Absolutely not. Just like we can be inspired by their accomplishments, we can learn from their mistakes and sins.
Do all these statue-destroyers really think they are so much better than Robert E. Lee and the Confederates? Do they think that—should they have a statue erected in their honor—it won’t one day be torn down by another generation? Just a cursory glance through their social media would prove they have made their fair share of mistakes.
What about their heroes? What about the radical left’s icons? I’m sure more than a few are worthy of rejection, based on their flaws.
The history of American socialism, until fairly recently, was a history of American racism.
New Harmony, the 1820s Indiana commune founded by the man credited with coining the term “socialism,” banned African Americans. Karl Marx, Margaret Sanger [founder of Planned Parenthood], and John Reed all used the N-word to refer to black people in correspondence. The Communist Party supported the internment of Japanese and relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. W.E.B. Du Bois, kicked out of the NAACP he helped found by embracing black separatism in the 1930s, traveled to the Third Reich in 1936 only to return to the United States to pen an article entitled “The German Case Against Jews” that uncritically repeated justifications for the persecution of Jews by Hitler. (Breitbart)
And that’s not even getting into contemporary leftists, who seem to fan the flames of hate through Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other groups.
Should we tear down every last person that has flaws? Should we aim to rewrite our history, because a few people are offended? Should we give up our culture, traditions, and ways of life to people who gladly destroy monuments, burn schools, protest free speech, and attack people they disagree with?
I’ll let you decide.