The Night When the Statues Disappeared

The Night When the Statues Disappeared

by Paul Merkley

Last week, answering the call from Black Lives Matter and other statesmen, mobs destroyed or removed statues of leaders of the Confederate cause all across the United States.

At a press conference on August 15, 207, President Donald Trump —  who has, after all, been at the forefront of more movement for change (good or ill) than any figure in recent History — stepped up at once to note the inspiration behind it all.

There were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee, I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally… [But where is it all heading?] … George Washington was a slave owner …So [he asked the assembled reporters] will George Washington now lose his status, are we going to take down statues of George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, what do you think of Thomas Jefferson? Are we going take down his statue, because he was a massive slave owner, now are we going to take down his statue? You’re changing history, you’re changing culture.

No great gift of prophecy was required to arrive at this, but only a talent for discerning mob mentality. Sure enough: “Bishop” James E. Dukes of Chicago’s Liberation Christian Centre has demanded that Mayor Rahm Emnanuel of Chicago rename the Washington Park.  He finds the First President undeserving of this and all his other honours because he was a slaveholder. So was President General Andrew Jackson – for whom another local park is  named.  Around the country, countless memorials standing on private ground are now in the crosshairs.

Meantime, a bust of Abraham Lincoln erected elsewhere in Chicago has been set in flames and defaced. How this is related to the ongoing campaign of vilification of Confederate leaders is anyone’s guess. In any case, local police have declined to investigate this matter.

The President was right, of course. Inevitably, enthusiasm for eradicating the memories of bad persons cannot be contained to the figures known to have been active in the overlapping causes of States Rights and defense of Slavery.

Jim Quinn, writing for the website www.zerohedge.com, offers some background:

Liberal mayors and city councils across the south are falling all over themselves wasting time and taxpayer money to remove statues of Confederate generals to appease the left and make a display of how anti-racist they can be. Meanwhile, their cities are bankrupt, their infrastructure is decaying, black crime is rampant and their education systems matriculate functionally illiterate deranged snowflakes into society … Do we get rid of all dollar bills and quarters? Do we change the name of our capital? Do we change the name of Washington & Lee University to Obama & Spike Lee University? (“Jim Quinn Rages At ‘Functional Illiterates Trying To Erase History’” [www.zerohedge.com, Aug 16, 201.]

Politicians all around the land, caught unprepared, have been calling out for overtime all the manpower available to them so that under cover of darkness, statues dedicated to Lee and Stonewall Jackson and other champions of the Lost Cause could be dismantled without fuss.  Baltimore’s Mayor, Catherine Pugh, squeeked that “with the climate of this nation,” ordering Confederate monuments under cover of darkness “was in the best interest of my city…It’s very important that we move quickly and quietly.” No amount of discussion should be allowed to stand in the way of righteous action.

David Goldfield, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, applauds the strategy of pre-emptive demolition of the statues of evil persons. “The fact that it’s done fairly expeditiously is not surprising because if you do it quickly the opposition can’t build up, and the confrontations that we’ve had, not only in Charlottesville but elsewhere, will not materialize.”

Mayor Pugh told the New York Times that she did not know where the statues were moved or where they will end up. And here is the most Orwellian line of the week: “She suggested plaques be installed that describe ‘what was there and why it was removed.’” Does she want General Lee remembered or forgotten? Are these cowardly public officials anticipating visits from the ghosts of the gents on the horses?

Pat Buchanan provides historical perspective:

Like ISIS, which smashed the storied ruins of Palmyra, and the al-Qaida rebels who ravaged the fabled Saharan city of Timbuktu, the new barbarism has come to America. This is going to become a blazing issue, not only between but within the parties.   For there are 10 Confederates in Statuary Hall in the Capitol, among them Lee, Georgia’s Alexander Stephens, vice president to Jefferson Davis, and Davis himself. The Black Caucus wants them gone. What comes next?  Mount Rushmore-sized carvings of Lee, Jackson and Davis are on Stone Mountain, Georgia. Are they to be blasted off? There are countless universities, colleges and high schools like Washington & Lee named for Confederate statesmen and soldiers. Across the Potomac from D.C. are Jefferson Davis Highway and Leesburg Pike to Leesburg itself, 25 miles north. Are all highways, streets, towns and counties named for Confederates to be renamed? What about Fort Bragg?…And once all the Confederates are gone, one must begin with the explorers, and then the slave owners like Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Madison, who seceded from slave-free Britain. White supremacists all. Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay of Kentucky and John Calhoun must swiftly follow. (“America’s Second Civil War,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2017

Pat Buchanan is rightly reminded of the Taliban. But this is also how the Soviet Communists and the Chinese Cultural Revolutionaries dealt with reality.  Elected officials,  like their counterparts in Germany in the early 1930s,  have responded to death threats with pre-emptive surrender, under cover of darkness.  This  is despicable cowardice, tarted up with virtuous talk taken from the repertoire of the Student Councils.

 Yet Another Robert Lee.

There are many living persons named  Robert Lee. One of these is an ESPN broadcaster. He was  pulled from calling the University of Virginia home opener against William and Mary on Sept. 2 in anticipation of the incalculable damage that might be done when audiences heard his name – according to  Derek Volner, an ESPN spokesman. This Robert Lee comes by his name honestly: he is fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese. After all, if your prosperity depended upon advertising revenues from foot ball broadcasts, you wouldn’t want a man named Lee – even a Chinese Lee – associated with your televised football broadcasts.

When the  reality of history is driven out, people resort to MAGIC THINKING, whereby  the key to everything is in its  name – as it was in the popular mind of the Middle Ages.

There is  no shortage of Canadian content to this theme, even though our media have been slower to take up this cause. For instance: The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario passed a motion at its annual meeting last week calling on all school districts in Ontario to rename schools and buildings named after Sir John A. Macdonald. The union says it wants the name change because of what it calls Macdonald’s role as the “architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.” And in June, the name of founding father Hector-Louis Langevin was stripped from the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament Hill. Langevin argued for a separate school system with a specific mandate to assimilate Indigenous children.

1984 Re-visited.

If you pause to ask, you will find that practically everyone claims to have read George Orwell’s 1984.  But not a single member of our opinion class seems to have got the point – that who controls history controls the present and the future.  A simple application of the airbrush and Trotsky never existed.

To our contemporary Stalinists, history has no meaning. But anyone who has any knowledge of history knows that all events of the past have consequences into the present and beyond. The further back you go, the more the consequences. The consequences of the day your father met your mother are still ramifying and multiplying.

In the matter of the war against the statues, we face the arrogance of people who have no consideration for the fact that different contexts in which people have lived have largely controlled understanding of what is right. They imagine themselves having the prospect of angels.

This recalls the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1970s, when Chairman Mao, officially designated the wisest man who ever lived, searched for ways to separate his people from the past. All the knowledge that mankind needs issued from his own brow. All extant sources of knowledge were  discredited for ever. All learned people are made to wear dunce caps and sent for re-education to the country-side.

Our opinion elites are lining up with the sophomores – abandoning historical thinking and substituting magic thinking — that is, the faith that anything has the same right to be true as anything else.  It is clear that we are in the early days of an evil epoch.

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