Two days ago, the mayor of Detroit ordered a bust of Christopher Columbus removed from its pedestal. It was a peaceful removal for the Italian-born discoverer of the new world. After all, last week in Boston he was beheaded and in Richmond he was pushed into a lake. One supposes he is used to the harsh treatment. In many cities and states, his namesake holiday has long been replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day. In a few decades, it is not inconceivable he will be relegated to a proverbial footnote of history.
Of course, who or what Columbus will be a footnote to is now a live question.
Statues of Confederate generals are also being torn down and desecrated. They were on the losing side of history, so many Americans proclaim they won’t be missed. Since they remind us of an ugly time in our past, better to eradicate their presence altogether. Then it will be as if it never happened. Or so the logic would appear to run.
After wiping out the leading lights of the Confederacy, it seems that Northerners, too, have a little housekeeping to undertake. This week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh supported a circulating petition to disappear (let’s not sugarcoat matters) a statue of Abraham Lincoln standing before a freed, kneeling African-American. The petition reads:
“My name is Tory Bullock and I’ve been watching this man on his knees since I was a kid. It’s supposed to represent freedom but instead represents us still beneath someone else. I would always ask myself “If he’s free why is he still on his knees?” No kid should have to ask themselves that question anymore.”
Of course, the erstwhile slave is not kneeling before or even looking at President Lincoln. He is staring off into the distance, in a position, shackles now broken, to rise. The scene, seen from a perspective different from Mr. Bullock’s, is of hope and vitality. Lincoln is less the author of the slave’s freedom than a midwife. And in a sense, he is already forgotten as the rising figure looks out and away into the distance, expectant and resolute.
What will happen next is easy to predict. Statues and depictions of the Founding Fathers will come down. It does not matter if you authored the Declaration of Independence. You’re out. It will take a little while, but the will and hatred on the progressive left is strong. Their ability to instill knee-jerk fear in average Americans is pernicious (see the Mayor of Boston), and common-sense and knowledge of history has so departed any would-be opponents that in the coming decades an outright revision of American history — both as it’s symbolized in statues and memorials and as its published in books and taught in our schools — will occur unimpeded.
It won’t stop with the Founding Fathers. Anyone, of any gender, found with a less-than-ultra-progressive stamped passport is on the chopping block. This is a race to the bottom. And in the end, we will be left with a historically rudderless America. Gone will be any shared sense of purpose or pride. In its place we will find new totems, decided by those in power.
The wholesale eradication of a person’s (and a people’s) history is a tactic most commonly seen in authoritarian countries. Mao and Stalin and Castro understood this well. If you go back far enough, these are the great teachers of America’s progressive left. They are loathe to admit it, but it’s right out of the totalitarian playbook. And now that playbook is being put to use in our country.
If this does not sit well with you, if you sense the Founders of this country, imperfect though they were in private life, nonetheless created a republic with good and true ideals to aspire toward — timeless principles like “all men are created equal” and the “self-evident” notion “all men are created equal” — and that these ideals are worth preserving, then now is the time to push back against the progressive agenda.
In a few years, it will be too late.
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