The tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 have intensified the furor over the removal of Confederate Civil War statuary in the southern United States. This follows efforts over the past decade to have the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, more commonly known as the Confederate Flag, removed from all public displays. But are these efforts to remove all vestiges of the Confederacy really what is at play here? Is the attempt to sanitize history a good-hearted effort to cure the racial divide in our country or are there more sinister forces at play?
Supporters of the statues argue that they represent a history that should not be lost and a culture that deserves to be remembered. The Confederacy, while it did harbor the evil of slavery, was about so much more than just that institution. It was also about states’ rights not being trampled on by the federal government. It was also about an agrarian way of life, lost in reality but remembered in history.
Opponents maintain that anything having to do with a culture of white supremacy needs to be sanitized. They contend that all vestiges of an era, in which one race of people dominated another race of people should be purged, completely, from any public display.
But as President Trump suggested in a press conference on August 14, this idea of sanitization, taken to its logical conclusion, would need to include some pretty major players in American History. “This week, it is Robert E. Lee, this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” the president asked.
And the president has proven to be prophetic, as last week Chicago pastor James Dukes of the Liberation Christian Center, called upon Mayor Rahm Emanuel to remove the names of George Washington and Andrew Jackson from parks on the city’s south side. “In an African-American community, it’s a slap in the face and it’s a disgrace for them to honor someone who was a slave owner,” Dukes said.
Forty-one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners at some point in their lives. This number included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock. Does the fact that more than 70 percent of the signers engaged in the sin of slavery nullify that document entirely?
The numbers for the signers of the Constitution are better but still not good. Nineteen of the 39 signers of our nation’s first set of rules were, at some time in their lives, slave owners. This number includes the aforementioned Jefferson, James Madison and, the titular “Father of our Country,” George Washington. Does this mean the Constitution itself is of questionable origin?
This slope is truly a slippery one. A full half of Mount Rushmore will have to be chipped away in order to ease the enduring sting of white supremacy. The Washington Monument will need to be taken down or, at least renamed. (Due to its phallic appearance, might it be named the Bill Clinton Monument?) The Jefferson Memorial will have to be leveled, perhaps to make room for the Barack Obama Memorial.
And the place names! Goodness, half the country will need to be renamed, starting with the nation’s capital and the most northwestern of the contiguous 48 states. Three state capitals will need to be renamed as Jefferson City, Missouri; Jackson, Mississippi, and Madison, Wisconsin were all named for slaveholders. Columbus, Ohio should probably be thrown into that mix as well, since it was named for Christopher Columbus, whom historical revisionists tell us persecuted the indigenous people of the Americas.
(Although, in the case of Madison, Wisconsin, an easy fix is obtained with only the addition of a vowel and a hyphen. How does Mao-dison sound?)
Taken to its obvious, albeit absurd, conclusion, this is what American history sanitization movement wants: a white-washing of any statuary, symbol, speech, or thought that strays from what they consider “politically correct” orthodoxy. They wish for a purge akin to the Cultural Revolution in Communist China, where any symbol relating to other times or other ideas can simply be removed and where political opponents can be squelched with humiliation, imprisonment, and even death.
Just recall what occurred last week. President Trump roundly condemned the violence in Charlottesville in a statement to the press. But he made the rhetorical “mistake” of condemning the violence “on all sides,” which caused the mainstream media to metaphorically tar and feather him for 48 hours. Then, when the president did invoke the names of Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists, he was roundly criticized for being late to the party.
The mainstream news media foments this manufactured rage for several reasons. First, they, generally, agree with the ideology of it. Second, it drives their ratings, which are historically low right now.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, the main-stream media has no idea of how to handle President Donald Trump. Instead of kowtowing to their whims, he goes his own way, consistently flouting their idea of presidential etiquette and challenging their predetermined storylines. They, in turn, are attempting to destroy him at every turn, first with Russians, then with North Korea.
Now, they’ve returned to the last arrow in their quiver, the one weapon that never lets them down. If they can, somehow, paint him as a racist, they will have buried him. The media understands that, in current day America, racism is the one unforgiveable sin. Once branded a racist, no public person can ever truly come back from that. It is their doomsday weapon, their Damoclean sword.
So the events in Charlottesville were not really about a statue. And the uproar that followed had nothing really do to with white supremacy. This is all about a Maoist attempt at cultural revolution and the news media’s obsession with the white whale known as Donald Trump.