Comment Of The Day: “New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy”

I confess: I’m behind in posting Comments of the Day. There are at least two that are on the runway. This one, Steve-O-in-NJ’s discussion of statue-toppling and historical airbrushing in other nations, is the most recent. It also doesn’t involve virulent anti-Trump hysteria, which I am becoming extremely weary of even as I have to chronicle it, since it, and not its target, is one of the major ethical crises of our time. (It also is really, really interesting.)

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy”:

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 Ironically, the one of George V, which came from India Gate, was to have been replaced by one of Gandhi, but to this day the canopy is vacant, because the Indian Parliament could not agree on details.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 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.

 

22 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, U.S. Society, War and the Military

22 responses to “Comment Of The Day: “New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy”

  1. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Thank you. Just as a quick follow-up, I dealt primarily with toppling and airbrushing in countries that dealt with legitimate contests of rulership and the end of colonialism. There are many other examples, like the renaming of towns and rulers alike in Zaire, more renaming as Turkey emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, and the question of Israel vs. Palestine, that have some legit questions or interesting history. I think, at least I hope, that we can all agree that this is different than trashing the inflated and domineering symbols of an imposed, tyrannical regime, like toppling Saddam’s overblown statues and renaming Saddam Hussein International Airport Baghdad International Airport or removing a huge statue of Lenin from Berlin. It’s also different than the Stalin/Hoxha approach of rewriting the history books each year to eliminate the people who were purged, which some of this revisionist removal is approaching.

  2. Neil Dorr

    “This idea has been around over a millennium, and guess who first used it on a worldwide scale?”

    The Egyptians and Romans were doing it before Islam was even a twinkle in Muhammad’s eye.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      And the Assyrians before them. But none of them got as far. Islam at one point stretched from Andalusia to the Philippines.

    • Greg

      I would distinguish between destroying or defacing statues of a ruler who has recently died or been deposed, and annihilating ancient artifacts. The Egyptians defaced statues of Akhenaten and Hatshepsut, presumably soon after they died, for being a heretic and a woman, respectively. New Roman emperors often did the same to the likenesses of the emperors they had deposed. But both the Egyptians and the Romans venerated ancient monuments through countless political vagaries.

      A better example for your purpose might be the one described here:

      http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/source/gibbon-decline28.asp

      The early Christians did in fact destroy or convert to their own use countless ancient pagan temples, statues and other artifacts. The Muslims were not the first to do that.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Yes yes, and Heraclius knocked down the Persians’ biggest temple, extinguished the holy fire, and polluted the nearby sacred lake with dead bodies while waging a full-on war on them. The last pagan enclave in Europe only closed in the early 1400s, when Jagiello, Duke of Lithuania, became king of Poland as well and accepted the Catholic faith for his people, forever putting out the sacred fire at Vilnius. We can talk about the Northern Crusades if you like also. The Muslims were still the first to do this worldwide and over multiple cultures, as an aggressive conquest, rather than a change from within or as part of a regional conflict. Take a read of Geoffrey Regan’s First Crusader.

  3. Inquiring Mind

    In a way, what Steve-O describes is the objective of those removing the monuments.

    They have to dismantle anything that might contradict the version of history they want to push forward.

    It is, as he points out, not much different than what the Taliban did with the Buddha statues, or the way ISIS destroyed so much history in the territory it controlled.

    The pattern is the same, even if the Left has not taken it to the degree ISIS has – although with the threats to one GOP Congesswoman and the effort to run a Republican congressman off the road mark a frightening escalation. But when they view their opponents as people who want kids to “eat crap at school” (per Michelle Obama – and that is one of the lesser offenses), among other things, they can justify a lot in their minds.

    As Scott Adams said, “Nobody opposing Hitler can be a bad guy.”

    I am struggling to find a way that this situation ends in anything but civil war. Maybe it will take a very ugly street clash to wake people up to just how close to the abyss we are. I hope not, because we really might not be able to control the conflagration that could very well happen.

    • Emily

      I have a friend in an area of the world that’s been plagued by civil war and regime changes for his entire life (he’s lived in four different countries in the same city.) He was saying something similar on the civil war thing, and noted that in his experience, civil wars these days start with exactly what we’re seeing in terms of individual protests, riots, shootings, etc, they just keep happening until they happen almost every day, and get gradually more violent. Then you’re in a civil war.

      It was a wake up call to me, in terms of “that couldn’t happen here.” He would know, he’s seen it happen.

      • This is what my study of the subject leads to, as well. I have given my opinions on who sides with whom and the outcomes would likely be.

        One thing I am sure of: no one will win in the end. This is what the Russians are rooting for, as well as the Chinese: a distracted and weakened America.

        That said, there are some things a Civil War is worth fighting for.

    • I think that part of the reason why Canada doesn’t have the polarisation problem that America does is partially because we aren’t a bi-polar system.

      Having a legitimate third, fourth and fifth political party, for instance means that the status quo will very often be a minority government, and minority governments by design have to work with and compromise with other parties…. And only in the relatively rare scenario where a party has seriously dropped the ball and shat the bed (See: AdScam, The NEP or The Senate Expense Scandal) will you see significant political shifts that allow for even the possibility of a majority.

      Right now the American system rewards a sort of immature standoffishness, I think because the politicians believe that EVENTUALLY it will be their turn at the trough. Worst case scenario, their voters will continue to vote for them because they aren’t their opponents. And really…. What are you going to do? Vote Third Party? Throw your vote away?

      • But I’m not sure that’s an adequate explanation of our polarization though…

        Very few times in our history have you seen the level of distrust, divorce and estrangement between political segments of our society…

        And other than a few, isolated off examples, we’ve been 2 party since the beginning. Those off-examples generally falling around times when one party falls apart and works to reconsilidate around a different set of priorities.

        I think the polarization finds its source elsewhere, and I’m not sure having multiple parties would necessarily solve that.

        • Very few times in our history have you seen the level of distrust, divorce and estrangement between political segments of our society…

          Tex, I think the last time we ended up in a Civil War

    • Mrs. Q

      I suspect IM that an ugly clash is what the elite instigators want. I’ll probably be called a libtard or accused of whitesplainin’ by saying this…but divide & conquer is the name of the game. It’s easier to attempt to control by creating or taking advantage of chaos.

  4. Congrats, Steve, on a great post.

  5. recumbent driver

    As Scott Adams said, “Nobody opposing Hitler can be a bad guy. ” Errr… Scotty boy, Josef Stalin? Please, read history Before you write.

  6. I thought it was a good post too, yet it does not conclude or decide anything. It is more or less a complaint that there are certain people, with certain ideals and intentions, who are working to see their wills put into effect.

    I could hardly blame the black community of Lousiana for wishing to raze every Confederate monument, can you? I spend a couple of weeks in New Orleans and I felt things there I have never before felt. That is, race tensions and simmering anger.

    OTOH, I can very clearly see why the white community would wish those monuments to stand. In fact I have a sort of email buddy from N Carolina who tells me often how attacked he and his community feels.

    I thought of you when I listened to this interview because, it seemed, you have the background and understanding to appreciate some of his perspectives. If you ever do get a chance to listen to it, I would be specially interested in hearing your opinion of his analysis. E Michael Jones has one of the most interesting — and challenging — perspectives that I have come acorss so far. I mean among those who have a critical position of America and its project. In fact, he is among the very few who seem, to me, to have the courage to even state ‘truth’.

    The man seems dangerously intelligent! And his perspective is specially curious because he is a Catholic and his theological understanding informs his views of capital, of labor, of the Anglo-American alliance, and then of course his contempt for usury.

  7. IM writes: “In a way, what Steve-O describes is the objective of those removing the monuments.

    They have to dismantle anything that might contradict the version of history they want to push forward.

    It is, as he points out, not much different than what the Taliban did with the Buddha statues, or the way ISIS destroyed so much history in the territory it controlled.

    The pattern is the same, even if the Left has not taken it to the degree ISIS has – although with the threats to one GOP Congesswoman and the effort to run a Republican congressman off the road mark a frightening escalation. But when they view their opponents as people who want kids to “eat crap at school” (per Michelle Obama – and that is one of the lesser offenses), among other things, they can justify a lot in their minds.”

    As often happens, I read comments and certain ideas rise up in my mind. The ideas seem to run counter to ‘standard allowed narratives’ and I feel — internally, since no one asked me to feel that way — that I am committing an idea-sin by having such ideas and needing to challenge those ideas presented, and I force myself to shut up. Then, days later sometimes, I see what happened and I see what a coward I have been.

    There seems to me no similarty, not even a remote one, when radical Islamists deface ancient Buddhist monuments since, as I think is true, they likely have no understanding at all about Buddhist doctrines. It is far more likely that they are radical, hyper-radical, uneducated and possibly even illiterate zealots who destroy statues because they represent idolatry. What other reason could there be? That there are Buddhist missionaries handing out pamphlets on the local square?

    But the question What and Who stand behind the removal of these American southern monuments, which were put up as a means to express ressentiment against the victorious North, and as a way to preserve cultural identity in the white comunity and power-structure: that is what is being attacked. And right now those who lead these attacks are at the height of their power. And for this reason there is little stopping them from continuing a process of cultural undermining of a proud, race-conscious, racially prejudiced, white community of the South. This is just a fact.

    But the *project* is much larger, or I should say it connects to a much larger project occurring in America but which is also a symptom which is expressing itself within European culture generally: the loss of and the destruction of an intact cultural identity, and I mean European or white identity as such. Now, to investigate what forces and ideas stand behind this project — the undermining and destruction of European identity — is a complex and contentious question. Just by saying this, just by writing this and expressing this truth in this way, I am seen to turn against the Gods of America, and the established indoctrination that has been installed in many — in most — people.

    There seems to be a massive collusion between vastly powerful economic forces (industry, business) and government, and the conscious creation and maintenance of a narrative which is enforced through educational institutions, those who write histories, the movie and entertainment industry, and then certain academically-based exponents of a power-structure that is, for me, harder to name because I do not understand it. A way to begin to understand this ideological school and its influence might be to focus attention on the NYTs as it is showing itself these days. Underneath that, or behind it, is a specific intellectual school, which can be said to have been waging an ideological war against many different things, not the least of which is ‘The South’ as a symbol od resistance and also of identity. Any sort of ‘white identity’ is absolutely and strictly prohibited and indeed it is an ideological sin to think in such terms and even to mention it, as I now mention it.

    If you reduce these issues — and in a free mental environment all these ideas, and many more, could be mentioned and discussed — to the false-narrative of the Taliban defacing Buddhas, and if you make this comparison to Black activists who have an intellectual school standing behind them and empowering them (that explains a good deal of the postwar Civil Right Movement int he US) to the Taliban fanatics, you will have totally misinterpreted everything that can be seen and learned.

    There is a war of identity afoot, and the glue that binds a nation, established through an idea-proposition — which is to say not though blood-relations and cultural affiliations and identity as they are normally established — is beginning to come undone. The Idea (I mean here the Lincolnian ‘proposition’) cannot any longer function as a means to uphold or to enforce a relationship of identity within the mass culture, but yet a new movement of Identity is certainly afoot. It seems to have come about or to have visibly manifest itself with the electrion of B. Obama. What it is, is hard to say, but what it is not is perhaps easier. It is not a white identity movement, it is not a Northern Protestant movement, it is not an old WASP movement, et cetera. I suggest that to understand what *it* is requires a good deal of careful description but also of analytical work which, because it involves free thinking and free descrition, will be resisted at every point it attemp to assert itself (because the thinking-environment of the present, overall, does not allow free thinking).

    But what will happen here? Where is this tending? If any reader has accepted any part of this analysis, it certainly leads to asking certain rather demanding questions. True, it is much easier for intellectual cowardice to shy away from the challenge, as it were, yet this is, in fact, where the problem lies more or less exactly. A counter-activism is required, but on what base will that be established? On what base could it be established? The fate of the Republic, quite literally, hinges on an answer to these questions. And of course the issue is far larger and intersects with international questions and problems; questions of national identity, questions of national activity and policy.

    So many terribly confusing problems all come together in such a way that it is very very hard to think them all through.

  8. There is a YouTube talk that can be accessed with these search-terms:
    “YouTube Prof. Kevin MacDonald: The Psychological Mechanism of White Dispossession”

    …which enunciates, in clear and direct terms, what the issue is and, as a result of the clarity of enunciation, may lead to the articulation of counter-activism. Over the year or two that I have participated in this blog, where ethics is the prime focus, I have becomes 100% (110%!) convinced that ‘the problem’ is not ever really addressed because it cannot be seen. It cannot be seen because to think in terms of truth is forbidden. Therefor the ethical imperative is to begin to be able to articulate truths which proposes a path of mental and intellectual honesty.

  9. Tex writes: “Very few times in our history have you seen the level of distrust, divorce and estrangement between political segments of our society…”

    This got me to thinking about the root of the division within the American ‘white’ community, which, as I often say, is a symptom of the decay in Occidental culture generally.

    For after all the War Between the States was brought about by a particularly virulent form of Yankee intolerance and a certain sort of centempt for the Southern neighbor, wasn’t it? Many of the statements that Lincoln made, when I read them, sound like thundering religious declarations. If you read them with a certain inflection in mind they almost sound lunatic. On the other end of this spectrum was the Southerner himself, more or less completely unwilling to submit to the will-imposition of his Northern co-national brother, his co-racialist. In this sense, then, perhaps, the division in the soul of the American white stems from this rageful and really stupid turn, one against the other. So many of the major historians of the CW era always say that it is the most important event in American history, and the most ‘defining’. Some say that everything put in motion then is still in motion today. Is that true?

    Now, so many years on, that same wound and division still exists. And it seems one can still very clearly distinguish that Puritan Northerner with all his assumption and arrogance — and organization, and focus, and material power, and conviction — but I guess it seems to me, based on what I see and what I read, that there is a core disunity in the *soul* of the white American generally. I notice it here on this blog. I’ve certainly felt it on other forums. It is part-and-parcel of American culture. What is it exactly?

    You-plural, on a moment notice, with slight provocation, will tear into each other in the most violent of ways and attack each other attempting to tear and rip. Political hatred. Political deviancy.

    But now there is a whole added realm: the freed slaves, the social underclass (Mexicans and Mezo-Americans), this ‘new demographic’, all now attempting to function in a cobbled-together American society, held together by no real bonds, but by some waning force of conviction, or a conviction that has been dead but was not ever yet buried. You could almost say that the social bonding is held together by a public relations narrative!

    But it is has exanded. Women hate the paternal male. Women resit ‘the patriarchy’. The gays hate the straights who refuse to accept the sodomite practices. The atheists hate and fear the religionists, especially the moralizing Christian. The Black simmers with deep-seated historical rage against the White who, after all, is still more or less racist. Meanwhile Whitey, shaking in his and her boots, has no clear idea at all what he is or is not, what in himself he can defend and cannot defend.

    It cannot be a sectional civil conflict, if it develops. It is more like a severe cultural struggle within a penal colony! Or on an island. Or in a neighborhood. Or even in a family. One will turn against the other. If it explodes it will explode bitterly. It is already showing so many of the signs.

    Therefor I cannot see how a ‘civil war’ could develop. It is a crisis of national identity within a forced nationalism and nationality that is beginning to become unglued. I can’t think of any historical parallel but then I don’t have such a good grasp on the sweep of history.

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