New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy

New Orleans is in the midst of completing a plan to remove four Confederate monuments from public spaces in the city. In April, city workers removed a monument to a Reconstruction-era insurrection, and last week, they dismantled a statue of Jefferson Davis. Statues of the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard will be coming down soon.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu exploited the murder of nine black churchgoers  in Charleston, South Carolina to push for historical censoring, a long-time goal of civil rights groups and progressives.  Now the city says it is weighing a new location for  the monuments so they could be “placed in their proper historical context from a dark period of American history.” The favored new location is rumored to be Hell.

There are protests, of course, and most objections are coming from the perfect advocates from perspective of the historical amnesia fans: Confederacy fans, “Lost Cause” adherents, white supremacists, and other deplorables.  Seldom has George Orwell’s quote been more relevant:

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

I’ve written so much about the efforts from the left to purge America of any memory of or honor to historical figures who do not meet its 2o17 lock-step mandate for politically correct views and statements that I hesitate to repeat myself. You can review the record here.

Still, some things bear repeating. The last time I wrote about this issue was in February, when Yale capitulated to student thought-control advocates and eliminated the name of John C. Calhoun from a residential hall.  For it isn’t just leaders of the Confederacy who are targets of this cultural self-cannibalism: it is all past leaders who were proven wrong in some respects by subsequent wisdom, experience and events, including American icons like Jefferson and Jackson.  That last post listed the rationalizations  employed by the statue-topplers and the spineless officials who capitulate to their purges , including

 The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times” 

The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.” 

The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do.”

Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”

The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

The Futility Illusion:  “If we don’t do it, somebody else will.”

The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

The Coercion Myth: “We have no choice!”

The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”

The Unethical Precedent, or “It’s not the first time”

The Abuser’s License:  “It’s Complicated”

 The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”

When you can throw up twelve rationalizations, that’s more than enough to convince the average, ethically-deficient citizen, not to mention social justice warriors.

That  post concluded,

A friend, lawyer, and Democrat had chided me on Facebook for suggesting that the frenzy to make America a safe place for anyone troubled by the opinions and actions of American patriots of the past could reach as far as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and accused me of engaging in wild hyperbole. Soon thereafter, the Connecticut Democratic Party purged the names and images of Presidents Jackson and Jefferson from its annual dinner, in order to kowtow to progressive activists. In November of last year, hundreds of University of Virginia students and faculty members demanded that President Teresa Sullivan stop quoting Thomas Jefferson, because doing so “undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”…I believe it is fair to say that I was right to be alarmed, and my friend was wrong. (I’m still going to let the statue of him in my backyard stay there, though.)

The cultural ethics alarms are sounding, as the toxic combination of the ignorant, the cultural bullies and the cowardly brings the United States closer to an Orwellian society where the past is remade to suit the perceived needs of the present.  Yale’s treatment of Calhoun redoubles my conviction that I expressed last year more than once. We have to honor what deserved and deserves to be honored. If we do not, history becomes political propaganda, useful only to support current political agendas. A nation that does not  honor and respect its history has no history.

And a nation that has no history is lost.

The New York Times published separate interviews with a leading critic and a prominent supporter of the historical airbrushing in New Orleans.

The advocate, Angela Kinlaw, who is a leader of local Take ’Em Down NOLA movement, is an educator, we are told.

Scary.

She says that taking down the monuments is ” a necessary part of the struggle toward racial and economic justice.”

This is code for : “We need to indoctrinate society, and that means obliterating any history that doesn’t advance our social and political agenda.” 

She says, “The statues are intended to send a message to black folks to stay in their places.”

Ahhh! Then the art is really “hate speech”! Call any work of art, book, statement, speech or expression of a view “hate speech,” and that means the government can and should kill it like a snake.

She says, “This art is not reflective of the majority of people in the city. The majority of the people in this city are black folks, and it doesn’t reflect them.”

So the majority should just silence expression that doesn’t “reflect them.”  This is how a critical mass of progressives think today: like totalitarians. Later, asked how she believes the disappeared monuments to history will aid “reconciliation,” she provides some Authentic Frontier Gibberish, with just enough coherence to send a chill up your spine:

“Reconciliation is going to require us to really put some truth on the table about what we’re dealing with. If reconciliation is going to happen through policy or through legislation, there’s going to have to be a shift in power, a shift in resources.”

Reconciliation means the restoration of friendly relations, and the action of making one view or belief compatible with another. To Kinlaw, it means “when we have the power to make people agree with us, and can crush any images and ideas that we doesn’t comport with our ‘truth,’ then we will have reconciliation.” This is another Orwellian concept: words mean what those in power want and need them to mean.

Richard A. Marksbury is the critic of this anti-democratic movement.  The is a former dean at Tulane University and a member of the Monumental Task Committee. He  was part of the legal effort to keep the statues up—you know: a racist, at least by Angela Kinlaw’s lights. He says,

I’m a cultural anthropologist — I’m 66 years old, I was in the Peace Corps, I did my research overseas, and I helped two different peoples try to record and save their cultural heritage — so my whole life has been dedicated to trying to preserve cultural heritage, which means I don’t believe in tearing down anything. We have very wealthy donors who would pay for bronze plaques explaining who these men were, what they fought for, what happened to try to educate people. I’m an educator, so I think there’s ways to educate people without tearing anything down. This was a man-made crisis. We didn’t have an issue. This was a one-man show from the top down for self-serving reasons. In 1993, the City Council passed an ordinance, and the way this nuisance ordinance is triggered is any citizen can come to the Council and make a presentation and say, “This monument violates the ordinance.” We had three black mayors who never invoked it. Nobody ever cared about it, nobody ever used it until Mayor Landrieu did. I think it’s part of the social-economic problems we have in America and in our cities, whether it’s high unemployment among young people and a lot of crime and school systems that are broken. These are mostly young people, and this gives them some opportunity to protest some aspect of the government. Deep down, I don’t think it has anything to do with the monuments because when these monuments are down, they’re going to migrate to another thing. The monuments are just symbolic of issues, and it’s a way out to vent, quite frankly, and the mayor opened the door to vent that way.

…This issue has brought more racial tension than anything I’ve seen or witnessed in the 44 years I’ve lived here, and I think most adults, black or white, living here would say the same thing. It’s sad. Also, we don’t know how it will end. If anybody thinks it’s going to end when these monuments are down, they’re kidding themselves. Take ’Em Down says they want to take down another 128. This will not go away anytime soon.

78 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History

78 responses to “New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy

  1. Maybe they should just pretend that the Civil War never happened…

    • That’s the idea, don’t you think? Or that one side was made up of heroes seeking racial equality, and the the other cowardly racists.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Current scholarship doesn’t do heroes. They do villains and victims. They are not going to salute figures like the all-white Union general officer corps, only portray them as people who did what needed doing a long time after they should have figured out that it needed doing.

        • Current scholarship doesn’t do heroes. They do villains and victims.

          And the victim is made the heroe. Somewhere I read about the idea of the ‘novelization of history’. It might of been Henry James (?) who commented that if we write novels of a certain character, and project backward into them so much of our own content, then how will we write our histories?

          After I saw the film ’12 Years a Slave’ I distinctly had the impression I had watched a ‘historical document’ that was really a sort of propaganda piece whose function was for use in the present. I think there is something to be said about how these ‘novels’ have influenced the present and contributed to current events. That indeed is their function. (The other film which seemed complete historical revisionism was ‘Lincoln’).

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Apparently to this way of thinking the noblest activity is suffering rather than fighting to alleviate suffering. It’s more noble for old Tom to die in slavery, forgiving and pitying his evil master, than it is for Joshua Chamberlain to take up arms to end the system that made Tom a slave. It’s more noble for the one brother to go to jail as an objector to World War One than for the other to lead his company in the trenches. Oh, and romantic love is still more noble – in novels and Hollywood how many times has the hero walked away from the fight with the girl, to let the world go hang, as if the most important thing was that They Get To Be Together? Entertainment isn’t history, and history doesn’t always tell the perfect story to fit into two hours and impress a date.

      • Are we able to remember the Revolutionary war sans statues of Clinton, Howe, Cornwallis, Gage, etc?

        • (Ooops, terrible example…given the Left-leaning control of education, I’d submit most people haven’t the foggiest about the Revolution….but then again, no amount of Statues (even of the good guys) would make a difference there)

          • Terrible example for more reasons than that. Statues reflect a public consensus of what should be honored, and that expression should be memorialized and respected. How would statues of those guys come about, in the dead of night?

        • Though in fairness, 90% of us consume perpetual and daily reminders of John Montagu, First Lord of the Admirality during the American Revolution.

          That’s a type of monument…

  2. Do these people truly not understand what airbrushing history can do?

    • Sure. That’s why they do it.

      • How far are these illogical history scrubbers willing to go; are they going to burn books, ban books, edit history out of Wikipedia, etc?

        Whether these snowflakes like it or not, the complete history of the USA, all of it, make us what we are today.

        Do not white-wash what the historical figures depicted in the statues did, teach it, all of it, but removing the statues is not logical.

        • You are not really thinking things through, but you do a good job of merely ‘reacting’. But this is often how your comments seem to me. You do not really have a stance. You could not defend the right of the South to secede as being completely in harmony with the original agreement between the states, and yet you cannot defend what is the logical outcome of the impetous of the North’s war on the South, which was the Civil Right Movement and its further octave in the BLM Movement. You are stuck, as seem to be stuck all pseudo-conservatives, in a non-ideological position just to the right of the center! It is pretty amazing and instructive to watch it. It is overall a form of impotence it seems to me. You end up a handmaiden to the reigning establishment of hyper-liberalism.

          The way around this is to be able, intellectually, to defend the sovereign right of the Southern States to make their own choices and to determine their own fate, and to have resisted the authoritarianism of the North in the consolidation of a Northern Collossus. That Northern Collossus is also very interested in and involved in the control of historical perspectives, and indeed it writes and dissemminates its ‘histories’ which, in circularity, explain itself as God-ordained and authorized by God to impose its will — quite literally of course — on the world. But one will never hear a peep or a chirp from *you* (plural that is) about any part of this. In this sense you seem to express a severe American defect: fraud and hypocricy.

          In a sense to teach the ‘true history’ of the US — from a Black perspective at least — can only result in a freedom movement. And how is it that you can possibly, and how is it that you assume that you have any right at all? to determine for others just how far they will go in asserting their rights within the American republic? In the end, that movement (in my own view) clamors for its own state, its own political state, sort of like the Palestinians. Full autonomy, full control, full self-determination. Maybe the best thing would have been, as Lincoln himself said in absolutely clear terms, to have shipped 4 million Blacks to Haiti or Honduras? To have held to the *truth* (he did see it as a truth) that these are incompatible peoples. With different desires, capabilities and destinies. Can you say this now in our present? Can anyone say it? Why cannot you say it? I’ll give you the clue to an answer: Just as those who are driven to tear away these old statues, which mean much more than you allow, are tehemselves driven by political ideology which has become an intellectual & governmental & industrial ideology of America, and which is supported by pervasive and very powerful propaganda and public relations endeavors, so too are you under such a spell, and so too are you incapable of free and independent thought, and conclusiveness, in respect to these issues.

          These issues are moving out of control as the binding glue of the nation begins to become undone. You think you are going to rebind the nation with your silly bandaid of emoted reaction? Ha ha! It seems to me that what is now happening in our present on so many levels has a direct relationship to the events of the American Civil War. I mean, all the historians say that there is no historical event more defining. But how can this perspective be carried forward into the present, and how can it empower the people who made and build the nation itself? These are labyrinthian issues which, in their depth, you cannot really even think about!

          One always wants to overtun the table of American hypocricy and fraud: the way it lies to itself and to others. That is one thing I can say that, inadvertingly, I have picked up by participating in this forum, though of course and sincerely I respect all its intentions and have learned an extraordinary amount. But it seems to me that with ethics and morals one has to go beyond the simple and the surface and to deliberately take a stand against hypocricy. The United States of America is now entering a severe and dangerous crisis which is a logical outcome of its FAILURES on a moral and ethical level. There, how does that read? Its provocations of foreign wars of an extremely destructive sort resulting in death and misery and extreme anger …. yet no one speaks for those who’ve suffered at your noble hypocritical American hands. And that is just one aspect. But these chicken are now coming home to roost, as someone once said.

          How far are youwilling to go, you ask? Tell me how far you are willing to go in revealing and disseminating a distorted view of the present? I assume there are no limits!

          There is a certain ambiguity in my own perspective (whose side am I on afterall and since I am described as a ‘Nazi’ and a ‘racist’ and other things as well) and I cannot quite be sure of my own mood in taking a swipe at the hypocricy I notice. But I am always inclined, rather than to remain shut up, to say something, to express myself, even if what I say is not quite constructive (what I mean by that is that I do not have a proposal for a solution).

  3. Inquiring Mind

    Can anyone tell me the difference between “Take `Em Down” and the Taliban’s destruction of those Buddha statues?

    Anyone?

  4. This is not Authentic Frontier Jibberish:

    “Reconciliation is going to require us to really put some truth on the table about what we’re dealing with. If reconciliation is going to happen through policy or through legislation, there’s going to have to be a shift in power, a shift in resources.”

    That is code for taking power and redistributing it. As used by Kinlaw, “reconciliation” is simply another word for reparations. The reparations movement stalled. So, we need another term for it. Reconciliation works. By golly, reconciliation was used to address South African apartheid. It worked. Until it didn’t.

    What truth would Kinlaw have us put on the table? That slavery is evil? Done. We fought a war to end an immoral practice – at the cost of over 600,000 lives. Jim Crow laws are bad? Done. We have the federal and state voting and civil rights laws to prevent that from happening again. Systemic racism still exists? Not sure completely I agree, but the society is working to change it: segregation has been outlawed. Blacks are still impoverished? Maybe. However, a recent study found that the best indicator of social mobility is a stable, two-parent household where the parents are actively involved in the raising of children. Blacks don’t have political power? Poppycock. Blacks participate in every level of state and federal government, from the local homeowner’s association to the presidency, Congress, and the SCOTUS; blacks sit on Fortune 500 corporate boards; they are entrepenuers, patent/trademark owners, teachers at all levels of education, all levels of the workplace.

    Do we have problems? Yes. Absolutely. Perhaps a driving force of those problems would be a direct and proximate result of the family environment, and perhaps some blame can be laid at the feet of the welfare state which supplanted the role of the family by government.

    jvb

  5. Rick M.

    I can just imagine the reaction of my now deceased adviser at Boston College – Prof. Andrew Buni – would have to this feeding frenzy and apparent capitulation of sane minds to this perversion. Eliminate the “bad” and sanitize what is left – if anything. When does the reconstruction at Mount Rushmore take place? Time for removal of white guy slaveholders.

  6. Rusty Rebar

    I am all for this. Especially when you think of the disgusting views that people like Robert E. Lee held:

    I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, —that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.

    Oh wait… that was Lincoln.

    Guess we have to take his statues down now?

  7. Deery

    There is a monument being taken down in New Orleans that literally celebrates the massacre of black people there during Reconstruction. Shameful that it was ever put up in the first place, and shameful that it was allowed to stay there as long as it was.

    There is a difference between statues existing that celebrate a figure that might be problematic, but has done other great things, and the statue celebrates those great things. This is contrast to statues that are celebrating problematic figures for precisely those things that made them problematic in the first place. Celebrate Thomas Jefferson for his writings on independence and freedom. Robert E. Lee’s quest to keep millions of people enslaved, no matter how brilliantly he may have done so, deserve no commemoration.

    History will remain. How we might think about historical figures change. Unless we are proposing that cities remain frozen in amber, never to change, cities can do what they want to statues, plaques, names, etc.

    • That monument to the insurrection doesn’t have to “celebrate” it. The point is that it happened, and the incident needs to be remembered. It’s a painful incident? Tough. It needs to be front and center, talked about, taught, and left right where it is. I explained the same principle with the Joe Paterno statue. Taking it down just allows the culture to pretend nothing happened.

      • Deery

        It doesn’t have to celebrate it, but it does. That was the original reason for it being there in the first place, literally touting the massacre and white supremacy. It isn’t at its original location anyway, so why not move it to a museum where people can study its history, it can be showcased, put into a historical context, with no danger that anyone will mistake it as fulfilling its original celebratory mission?

        • “No danger…”? There’s never a complete absence of risk that “someone” will find a anything offensive or hostile. That’s no standard. Are the old Nazi prison camps threatening or upsetting to some Jews? I’m sure they are. Is the Alamo offensive to some Mexican-americans? Are the names of some states as offensive as “The Washington Redskins” to some native Americans? That’s no justification for hiding markers of the past, in all their complexity. Leave the monument; cahnge the plaque as needed…and date that plaque, so all subsequent edits will have it noted.

          • Spartan

            Germany has memorials to the holocaust survivors but not statues of Hitler. Important difference.

            The Alamo is offensive to everybody — it is nothing but a glorified gift shop. I was horrified when I visited it a few years ago.

            • The Alamo is offensive to everybody — it is nothing but a glorified gift shop. I was horrified when I visited it a few years ago.

              Sparty,

              As a native born Texican, I am honor bound to respond to your cowardly slurs upon the Alamo’s sacred grounds with two comments:

              1. Bite
              2. Me

              As a rational thinking (unless you ask my wife) person, I tend to agree with you in that the Alamo has been trivialized by the lack of government oversight.

              As a child, we visited the Alamo in elementary school every year starting with 1st grade. After learning about it for two years (plus seeing the John Wayne movie!) 6 years old slickwilly (no little willy comments, please) was shocked at how… underwhelming it all was. I consoled myself with a genuine replica miniature Bowie knife (it was 1 inch long) with authentic faux leather scabbard. Oh, and some Confederate money replicas. (Interestingly enough, this fake money spurred my interest in history, as well as the Civil War, which I had heard little of until then)

              The plans are in the works to take back the Alamo (remember it?) and to restore much of it to it’s former glory. I hear they will have to dig down two feet to get to the original ground level.

            • I can’t believe you wrote that.

              Just the sight of the old mission, lit up at night, in the middle of the city, is a profound emotional experience for me. The Alamo is easily my favorite US historical landmark (and I was brought up among some of the best, in Boston, by Concord and Lexington) because you are right there, where the desperate stand occurred. The plaque honoring the couriers who came back to die with their comrades is worth the trip all by itself.

              • I get that her beef is with the size of gift shop given the scale of the site (though I don’t think it is too terribly large for the site…I’m more offended you have to make an appointment to get into the Library). But I think it’s a severe overstatement to claim it’s offensive to everyone.

                • (Of course as a hyper purist, I’d rather they tear down all the park’s perimeter wall that gives a false impression of what the Alamo looked like during the Mission and Revolution era…)

                • And calling it a glorified gift shop is a very poor selection of words if the goal is to claim the gift shop is out of place or scale.

                  I’d submit one hasn’t perused the Long Barracks museum and rest of the grounds in detail if the gift shop is the take away…

                  Holy cow, just reading the vandalized names from the mid-1800s occupation by the US army is interesting enough. Last time I was there I’d asked if there has ever been an exhaustive survey of the graffiti, the curator said only casual studies have been done and they’d recently found what might be a “Susannah Dickenson” scratched on a wall in one of the side rooms with nothing arguing against that being a legitimate scratching other than women at the time weren’t prone to vandalism in the way young men on an adventure of their lives would have. (Unlike the Crockett scratching they found that was misspelled and likely a fake)

        • JutGory

          Move it to a museum? Really?

          I have been to Dachau. They don’t need to shut down Dachau because we have a National Holocaust Museum.

          I stood in the entryway of Canterbury Cathedral where Thomas Becket was killed.

          I saw where Anne Boleyn was killed.

          I have visited Fort Sumter.

          Museums don’t cut it. You want to sanitize history by putting it in a museum.

          But, maybe you are right; I think I’ll just skip the Alamo.

          -Jut

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Not sanitize it – lock it away, where only those interested will go looking for it. That way the African-American out for his morning jog won’t have to see a reminder that his family wasn’t always free and the woman doing her yoga in the park won’t have to have her peaceful state of mind disturbed by a reminder there was conflict in the world, and kids won’t ask who that was.

          • Deery

            Dachau is a museum in and of itself, as are most of the other concentration camps. If you go there, you are in for the full experience and history. Likewise, I have no problem with plantations serving as museums about the horrors of slavery.

            Do I think statues celebrating Hitler or Rommel should remain? No. Even if someone put a plaque at the bottom noting Hitler was a bad dude? Nope.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              Rommel was not a Nazi, and in fact was forced into suicide by the Nazis. Erich Hartmann was not a Nazi, and in fact later served as Chief of Staff of the Luftwaffe in the time of NATO. Lutjens was not a Nazi, despite his portrayal in the movie Sink the Bismarck. There should be no problem with memorials to the gifted tactician, the deadly ace, or the captain of the most powerful battleship of his day.

              • Deery

                A believer in the “Rommel myth”? Not too surprised. If Rommel was not an actual Nazi (debatable), then he worked for, and gained his notoriety furthering the aims of one of the most infamous regimes to ever exist. No statue.

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  Glad you are not the one doling out permits.

                  • Isaac

                    Germany is a place where you are not allowed to buy violent movies or video games, your house will be raided if you post something offensive on Facebook, and you can literally have the cops called on you if someone overhears you criticizing the government…so I can see why Deery would aspire to that.

            • JutGory

              Great Dewey.
              Not only do you ring Godwin’s Bell, you use an example that is actually outlawed. Germans can’t speak well of Hitler. Presumably a statue would be illegal. After all, they don’t have freedom of speech over there, a mindset that is perfectly exemplified by the iconoclasts that want to get rid of statues of Lee. Germany got rid of the fascists and brought in the thought police.
              -Jut

            • “Even if someone put a plaque at the bottom noting Hitler was a bad dude? Nope.”

              And that’s a bit excessive and truly rises to the level of erasing Hitler…why on earn would you not have mentions of the chief perpetrators?

              “And schoolchildren, all the Jews and other minorities just spontaneously combusted here in Germany…no one knows how!”

          • The Alamo distinctly lacks a statue of Santa Anna…you know, the one who oversaw the Mexican victory there…

            I wonder why we don’t put up statues of our enemy’s heroes?

            • JutGory

              Not analogous, texagg04. That is what is tricky about the Civil War. People like Lee and Davis were heroes, even though they lost. And, beyond that, they were Americans, your fellow citizens, like it or not.

              The Civil War is not really a case of Us against Them; it was Us against Ourselves.
              -Jut

              • I gather the nuance…

                That’s why I haven’t made a solid decision on this.

                I think the SJWs leading the charge in the statue-toppling are all misguided and motivated by standard idiot leftist visions and impulses. However, I don’t think it’s cut and dry that the appropriate stance is to believe is good to have statues honoring people who, by definition, were our enemies…home grown or not. I mean, John Georgelas is as homegrown as they come, and he’s chosen to fight for a cause he believes in that is inimical to the American Republic… but we won’t consider the raising of a statue to him (even if it were in Dearborn, Michigan)

                This is definitely, as described elsewhere, a circumstance of “we shouldn’t have erected the statues to begin with, but they are now such fixtures of the community and history, that it is now inappropriate to remove them.” (Certainly the ones of a more “classically heroic” aura like the generals and soldiers…I can have sympathy with the removal of the one heroicizing the anti-Reconstruction insurrection and massacre that Deery mentioned)

      • Would a statue of Joachim Peiper be appropriate at Malmedy to help us remember what happened there?

        Or is this a matter of it was inappropriate to put up the statues of Slavery Defending Insurrectionists” but once they were up and became fixtures of the community it is wrong to remove them?

            • Why not? If one was erected by the Germans, I’d leave it there. That episode is already down the memory hole: who under the age of 50 can identify it? In Arlington, Mass, we had a massively obese Selectman, a father of a somewhat less obese classmate of mine, and I once, being 12, made a derogatory comment about his weight. My dad say me down and told me the story of the massacre, and how that “fat guy” was one of the very few GI;s who escaped it.

              I never thought of my classmate’s dad as anything but a hero after that, and pretty much stopped making fun of fat people too.

    • JutGory

      Except, Deery, your characterization of Lee is horribly superficial. It was not his quest to keep millions of people enslaved.

      He was a graduate of West Point.
      He served the United States military.
      He became Superintendent at West Point.
      He opposed John Brown at Harper’s Ferry.
      He opposed secession.
      He ignored calls to lead the Confederate Army.
      But, he viewed his duty to Virginia, his home state, to be superior to his duty to the Union.
      So, when Virginia seceded, he felt honor-bound to resign from the Union Army.
      The conduct of Lee and Grant in the surrender at Appomattox probably went a long way to putting the war to an end (though, obviously problems persisted).
      And, West Point still honors him today.

      Your superficial understanding of who Lee was is EXACTLY why these statues should remain up. Now, granted, statutes are superficial too. They just show a person. They don’t explain who the person was. Lee was no simple person and his position on the war was complex. If you want to slap a new plaque on the base of the statute to explain who he was and why he was honored, fine. Great! People have to learn history somehow if the schools aren’t teaching it.

      And, that history is worth learning. In many ways, Lee’s struggle with his competing loyalties (State vs. Country) is quite useful for understanding the mindset of people at that time, much in the same way Lincoln prioritized preservation of the Union over the abolition of slavery. Looking at these inner conflicts can provide useful lesson, if we allow ourselves to see these people for who they were.

      -Jut

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        As we’ve been discussing, JG, MOST historical figures and issues are complicated, and require putting some time against really understanding them. These days, most people want history as tasty appetizer, not main course that you need to work your way through. They also want to believe that they are on the right side of history, so they look for confirmation bias.

      • Deery

        I’m sure Lee was a complicated man. But the reason he has a statue is because of his role in trying to uphold the enslavement of millions of people. It is essentialism, I’ll grant. So is a statue.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          The Civil War was complicated too.

          • Deery

            All wars are complicated. Stipulated. It doesn’t mean that both sides were equally valid.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              All wars are also not zero-sum moral games fought between clear good guys and bad guys. That’s a childish, cartoonish view of history.

              • Deery

                Never asserted that, so that would be a strawman argument. However, I did state that not all sides for every war are equally valid. Which is indubitably true. The Civil War is one such example of a war where the two sides were not equally valid morally.

                • Deery, If one side was so superior, why did some northern states wait to free their slaves? New Jersey would not even pass an anti-slavery law until 1866, after the 13th was already ratified! Why were there even slaves in the north during the war, if that was what the war was about?

                  • Deery

                    ? New Jersey began abolishing slavery in 1804, under a gradual manumission process, fully abolishing slavery in 1846.

                    • From Salon: ” Just before the end of the Civil War, New Jersey even voted down the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, only voting to ratify it in 1866, after the end of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination months earlier…. Professor Gigantino says his new research indicates that as many as 400 African-Americans remained in some form of slavery at the end of the Civil War”

                      http://www.salon.com/2015/07/29/secret_history_of_a_northern_slave_state_how_slavery_was_written_into_new_jerseys_dna/

                      They called the slaves “apprentices for life,” even though the federal census call them slaves.

                      The so-called ‘anti-slavery’ laws you are talking about did nothing to free a single slave. It freed the children of slaves, but did not stop slave owners from bringing slaves from other states to replace their losses when the ‘livestock’ died. It required due process to take property, you see, and NO NORTHERN STATE was willing to do so. Even Lincoln did not free the Northern slaves: his proclamation only freed those of a foreign nation whom he was in the process of conquering, as a political tool for enemy subjugation and to rally the North around an unpopular war. Lincoln knew he could not take property without due process in the United States, and did not even try.

                      That NJ law was very careful to not strip slave owners of their ‘property,’ with courts even ruling that slaves especially were ‘personal’ property, and could be transferred like any other property, even to and from (so called) slave states.

                      Source: Edgar J. McManus, Black Bondage in the North, Syracuse University Press, 1973

                      Oh yes, the North was so virtuous, some outlawed blacks moving into their states for decades after the Civil War. Until 1860, no black ever sat on a jury anywhere. At the end of the Civil War, 19 of 24 Northern states did not allow blacks to vote, regardless if they were born free or former slaves.
                      Blacks who entered Illinois and stayed more than 10 days were guilty of “high misdemeanor.”

                      Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon had anti-black immigration provisions built into their very constitutions. In Illinois, that lasted until 1865, when the 13th removed it. Indiana’s anti-immigration rule was challenged in the case of a black man convicted for bringing a black woman into the state to marry her. The state Supreme Court upheld the conviction, noting that, “The policy of the state is … clearly evolved. It is to exclude any further ingress of Negroes, and to remove those already among us as speedily as possible.”

                      Source: Lorenzo Johnston Greene, “The Negro in Colonial New England, 1620-1776,” N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1942

                      ‘Good guys’ the North was not. Northern factories needed the South to buy their overpriced goods, and tried to embargo the South from purchasing from Europe (who had superior quality and lower prices, even after shipping costs) in the years leading up to the war. The more populated North passed laws that hurt the South economically, and told them to sit down and like it. What do you think that 2/3 census thing was all about? The South was being shafted because of population differences impacting their representation. (Sounds like the situation in many states today, with the large cities overruling the rural folk who feed them.) In effect, they were being taxed without (adequate) representation, and there were still those still alive who remembered 1776.

                      Sad that one must go to old books, as for some reason these fact are never mentioned in the modern classroom. Almost as if they did not happen.

                      Oh year, that is why we are removing the statues!

                    • Deery

                      The 13th Amendment had already passed, New Jersey’s ratification was just symbolism at that point. Lincoln *could not* unilaterally free the slaves, except for those in occupied territory. That was the whole purpose of the 13th amendment. It literally required a Constitutional amendment to take people’s “property.”

                      If your point is that the entire US was complicit in the slave trade, I readily agree. If your point was that somehow the North was as bad as the South in this, then I disagree. Southerners at the time were kind enough to leave documentation on why exactly they were seceding from the United States. And it is rather clear and unambiguous. It was over slavery, and whether they could expand slavery further. The North had its own crimes, but going to war to ensure that people remained in bondage as forced labor prisoners was not one of them.

                    • This is such an endless debate, and such a dumb one. The war was fought over state’s rights vs. federal power, and the specific state’s right most at issue was slavery. That doesn’t mean that slavery itself was reason for war. Southern states had threatened to secede over tariffs decades earlier. Moreover, the South was legally correct: nothing in the Constitution required states to stay in the Union, and the document wouldn’t have been ratified if such a provision was in there. Lincoln also famously said that if it took making the US all slave to preserve the union, then he’d do it.

                      So there were three principles behind the war: state’s rights to make their own laws, the morality of slavery, and the unbreakability of the Union. Choosing one or another to advance an ideological point just leads to ignorance and disinformation.

                      Also, the North was extremely complicit in slavery, as Rutledge’s show-stopping song in 1776 makes properly clear. Deciding who was worse, the plantation owners who bought them or the Northerners who acquired them is another fruitless exercise.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      I think this is another COTD nominee.

                    • My point is that good and bad guys are in the eye of the historian, who may have an agenda. The North was just as bad in what they were doing to the South (for decades!) as the South for using slavery to meet those demands.

                    • Deery

                      This is such an endless debate, and such a dumb one. The war was fought over state’s rights vs. federal power, and the specific state’s right most at issue was slavery. That doesn’t mean that slavery itself was reason for war.

                      Except contemporaneous documents crafted by the Southerners themselves contradict this. The “Lost Cause” apologist did not appear until well after the war.

                      Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin. http://www.civil-war.net/pages/mississippi_declaration.asp

                      That is just but one of many examples of how slave states justified leaving the United States. They were not ashamed at the time to cite slavery as the reason for secession.

                    • Yes, because that is an after the fact political posture. It has nothing to do with history.

              • I think there are no wars fought between good guys and good guys though…

                At a minimum there is one set of bad guys…often both.

                • Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster): “Maybe there’s only one revolution, since the beginning, the good guys against the bad guys. Question is, who are the good guys?”

                  One of my favorite movie quotes, from “The Professionals” (1966)

                  • Steve-O-in-NJ

                    Sometimes it’s easy to tell. Sometimes it depends on who is writing the history. Sometimes there is no telling. Still, if the UK can tolerate (and even play up) statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland and Owen Glendower and Llewelyn ap Gruffyd in Wales, and France can litter the landscape with rebellious marshals and emperors whose approach was anything but liberal, I think we can tolerate our own defeated rebels.

        • JutGory

          If it essentialism, you are, essentially, wrong. He would not fight his homeland, Virginia, no matter what the cause. That was essential.
          -Jut

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      You mean like the left wants things to evolve, evolve until they get to where they want them to be, then stay frozen there forever? The law is settled! The science is settled!

      • Well, to a degree. The left is also notably happy with taking things further after they thought for a moment they were where they wanted to be. When social justice warriors are on the warpath even previously extreme positions become too acceptable and new extremes must be found. Otherwise how will they be able to keep taking money from gullible universities and people who want to be edgy?

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          Also true, the left is notorious for moving the goalposts, but they alone want to be the ones to set where the goal line is. If they decide they like it where it is, there it stays. If they decide it needs to be moved, it moves.

  8. Steve-O-in-NJ

    There IS some historical precedent for something like this. I don’t know how well-traveled you are, but if you visit Ireland and India you will still see plinths that once held statues of individuals associated with the British Empire that were removed in the aftermath of independence. You will also see relatively new statues of folks associated with the new regime, some of whom, in life, might have been considered criminals or terrorists. Two obvious examples are:

    Michael Collins, national hero to the Irish, magnificent bastard to the Brits, and, any way you slice it, terrorist, who achieved his goals by shooting police and soldiers in the back, sniping, and bombing. His bust stands in Dublin and his statue marks the place where he was assassinated after mistakenly thinking he could just turn off the tap of the passions he had stirred up

    Tatya Topi, Indian rebel ruler who it is believed gave the order for the massacre of women and children at Cawnpore, later captured and executed by the British. At least three statues in India now honor him as a freedom fighter, and one of them was in fact placed where a memorial to the victims of the massacre once stood.

    Some of the monuments that represented the old ways were treated like scrap metal, like a statue of Queen Victoria that once stood in Dublin, dumped in a grass field until a deal was struck to ship it to Sydney, Australia, where it stands now. Five other statues of kings of kings and viceroys were moved to an abandoned area of Coronation Park in New Delhi following independence, where they stand forlorn and poorly maintained, partially because no one wants to pay to have them destroyed or shipped somewhere else in the world that might want them. Ironically, the one of George V, which came from India Gate, was to have been replaced by one of Gandhi, but to this day the canopy is vacant, because the Indian Parliament could not agree on details.

    Others were targets for violent destruction, like Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin, blown up by the IRA long after Dublin was the capital of the Republic of Ireland, or the Vendhome Column in Paris, toppled by the Paris Commune. Oh, yes, there was also the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, demolished to make way for the never-built Palace of the Soviets to prove the superiority of the Communist ideology. The Pillar was replaced by the Dublin Spire, which looks essentially like a giant hypodermic needle and is disparagingly referred to now as “the stiffy by the Liffey” and “the erection at the intersection,” but the Column and the Cathedral were rebuilt, and stand to this day.

    The fact is that when new regimes come in after revolutions, often the first thing they want to do is sweep away all traces of the old. This idea has been around over a millennium, and guess who first used it on a worldwide scale? That’s right, the Muslims, who destroyed subject people’s history in order to destroy their identity, so they wouldn’t think of themselves as anything but Muslims in a generation. That’s why they tore the jeweled standard of the Persians to shreds, built the Dome of the Rock where the Jewish Temple once stood, razed the church at Santiago de Compostela in Spain and hung the bells as oil lamps in the mosque in Cordoba (these were later recovered by St. Ferdinand), turned the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, and, as late as this century, were dynamiting Buddhist statues from the days when the Silk Road passed through Afghanistan.

    Those who do this want there to be no visible reminders of the past, so that no one will remember easily that there ever was a different way of doing things, or that there were other rulers who did things differently than the current rulers do things.

    Thankfully, most revolutionary governments, once they get settled and get down to the business of governing, realize that refuse collection, public safety, and education are more important than trashing the past and remaking the nation in their image, so they make peace with the past. That’s why there are still a fair amount of royal statues in Portugal and Italy and Paris is a hodge-podge of statues to kings and revolutionaries alike.

    This current campaign is actually more insidious than the violent destruction of past revolutions. There is no violent revolution to justify tearing things down, and there is not even a change of rulership. What there is is a way of thinking that has been in place for sometime, that finally has something, namely the current idea that the offended person is God to power it. The first target here is a comparatively easy one, there is a consensus that the South was the wrong side during the Civil War, and no one wants to appear to advocate for memorials to those who fought for a system that included slavery, gallant fighters and strong in their convictions though they might have been.

    However, it doesn’t end there. It’s very easy to find someone who is offended by any public monument and it only takes a noisy few to get a public advocate looking to make hay with it. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the Confederate memorial world; I know there are dozens more throughout the South. However, the ball is now rolling, and I don’t doubt that within a decade every one of them will be either scrap metal or moved to a museum. Some may even become targets for bombing as Black Lives Matter gets bolder. Progressives in the north I am sure do not want to be left out of this new source of political hay, and the region is ripe with targets. As I pointed out in another post, the area from New York to Chicago is thick with memorials to Christopher Columbus, due to the heavy Italian population. We are already hearing rumblings to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day and end the celebrations, can calls to yank down the “author of genocide” be far behind? Statues of the Founding Fathers are fairly common here too, do they also have to come down because several of them were slave owners? What about the World War I and II memorials? Do they have to also go because the US military there was segregated? Heck, why not yank ALL the memorials to any armed conflict, because some say war is nothing to celebrate? Missionaries and religious figures and symbols too, they might offend atheists or those whose original religion was something else.

    By the time this process really gets going no one will want to deal with the headache of fighting to keep a memorial to anything anywhere, and once it’s all over no one will want to go through the microscopic examination of the subject of a proposed memorial to put one up. Town centers will be empty and battlefields ripe to be taken over by developers. Most importantly to the progressives, there won’t be any reminders or symbols of the past for little Johnny to ask “Grandfather, who was that?” and for granddad or dad or whoever to give his take on the past in response.

    • JutGory

      Steve-O-in-NJ,
      To your lengthy and detailed argument (very good, by the way; I am not being facetious), I offer this brief response (no time for a point-by-point response). Yes, there is precedent for it. But, this is different. The South seceded, they fought, they lost. We are one big country again and Reconstruction is over. The past is the past. it’s like the War of the Roses. It’s over. The Brits aren’t grinding those axes anymore and Richard the Third is still considered a king in the line of royalty. The Irish can hate the British all they want and the Indians can too. The South? We still have to live with them and the history of the Civil War is just as much about the North that it is about the South. It’s our history.

      But, for those who want to get rid of all these statutes, just admit that you agree with the maxim that history is written by the victors. Then, think about what that means.

      -Jut

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        I agree with you more than you think. I think the Indians did a much better job of making peace with the past than the Irish, btw, it isn’t for nothing that they are stereotyped as never letting go of grudges. I’ve been to O’Connell Street in Dublin and I have to say that the way the Irish have attempted to ape the British way of doing things with their row of monuments to slain revolutionaries just seems like a pale, slightly disturbing shadow of the real thing (it might not have helped that Ireland is by nature dreary and this was in late October).

        Of course it’s different, sorry I didn’t make that clear. My main point, which might have gotten lost in all the details here, is that a new set of possibly unearned victors wants to not write, but rewrite history, and that’s not good.

    • I nominate this for Comment Of The Day

  9. Chris marschner

    So, if we obliterate any and all references to the period before 1964 does that mean slavery, Jim Crow, or all those things never happened?

    If these events are wiped away from our history there can be no past injustice to point to.

    If it eliminates all claims of reparations for past injustice then I might be inclined to support the effort. – Just kidding.

  10. I wonder how long it will be before the historical airbrushers deface Mt. Rushmore or other national treasures.

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