Saturday, June 20, 2020

Conservatives Are To Blame (In Part) For Tearing Down Statues


I've chosen not to speak out very much about the removal of Confederate statues. Even though, as I've noted previously, I enjoy learning from the history that most statues represent, and attempt to lead us to - even of people I find reprehensible, such as Vladimir Lenin and others. I have long dismissed those who reflexively accuse me of racism, and worse.
Some of my conservative/libertarian friends have expressed support for removing Confederate statues, hoping that they will prove their moderation, sophistication, and a measure of social acceptance, and perhaps end the matter. But as we're seeing play out in real-time, that's not what tearing down and defacing statues is all about. Not even close. And no amount of virtue signalizing will mollify The Mob. Not even Ulysses S. Grant. Not even Junipero Sierra.
I have long opposed removing most (not all) statues because they are teaching moments. If anything we should add monuments alongside to place them in context and help complete the story. I remember all that I learned about Robert E. Lee post-Civil War from visiting Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, more than a decade ago when my oldest son was a summer scholar there before his senior year of high school. We are guilty of spending our spring breaks back then visiting Civil War sites in Virginia. We don't regret that a second.
This piece from The Federalist reinforces my view and is superbly written. Feel free to disagree and call me whatever names you want. From the piece:
"In some sense, the story of the Confederate statues, and Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill, and Gandhi are stories of forgiveness. We protect their memories because we understand that history’s judgment will eventually condemn us for the luxuries we enjoy off the backs of foreign workers in slave-like conditions. We too hope to be understood, forgiven.
"In that spirit, I forgive all of those who failed to answer the call as the statues started falling. But we need you back. As is so often the case, the great compromise failed. There really are only two sides, one that seeks to burn everything down and one that seeks to save the greatest nation the world has ever known. Pick one. Now."

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