Wednesday, August 23, 2017

STATUES


Statues are markers of human history. They are erected because a significant portion of the population want to memorialize somebody. They want future  generations to know that there was such a person and that his or her life ought to be remembered and studied, if not revered.

Usually a statue represents someone who was successful. Or honored. In short, someone worthy of being remembered.

The current spate of tearing down statues is an unhappy phenomenon. It stems from a desire to re-write history. Judging our forbears on the basis of current opinion of right and wrong is a form of censorship unworthy of a free and educated people.

History is the story of the human race. It is interesting and it is important. It is full of good deeds and wisdom. It is also full of bad deeds and stupidity. All of it needs to be remembered and studied.

A ten year old boy sees a statue of Robert E. Lee. He asks his father, “Who was he?”

That should trigger a discussion about the civil war. What was it? When did it happen? Who won? Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys?

If Robert E. Lee was one of the bad guys, why does he have a statue?

The answer is very simple. He has a statue because the people of his community didn’t think he was a bad guy. They admired him and wanted to honor his memory.

History is nothing if not the truth. What was, was. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were great Americans; founders of our nation. Their memories are revered and remembered.

Still, they were both slave owners. Should we, as enlightened progeny of their efforts, now condemn them as racist bigots? And if we do, does that mean that we cannot recognize or admire any of their achievements?

Solomon is not remembered as a bigamist, but as a prophet. Being endowed by our Creator with the faculty of free will, every human being is both good and bad.

The war against statues reflects the modernist notion that everything worth knowing is in the current edition of the book. The latest is the greatest.

Whatever happened to the idea that those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past?

Political sensitivity is reaching a scandalous peak. Who, exactly would have been offended if ESPN had allowed Robert Lee, a sports announcer of Asian descent, to broadcast the play by play of the game between William and Mary and the University of Virginia?

Hard to imagine, but the network shifted him to the game between Youngstown State and Pittsburgh, apparently to avoid the negative fallout associated with his name after to the brew ha ha over the statute.

Political correctness is running amuck. Not only did the City of New Orleans take down its statue of Robert E. Lee, they also renamed the circle in which it was located from Lee Circle to Trivoli Circle.

If we take down statues of Robert E. Lee because we do not want future generations to celebrate his life, or even to know about him, doesn’t it follow that history books should also be cleansed of information about him as well?

Perhaps. But first we ought to ask ourselves whether the dumbing down of our children and grandchildren by the sanitizing of our history books is really such a good thing.

The Civil War did in fact occur. And there were good people on both sides.

If we don’t study about why that happened in 1860, we might see it happen again.








2 comments:

  1. Someone worthy of being remembered is, in large part, because the accomplishment or attempt was honorable. We do not honor those who commit crimes, moreover, laws are written to prevent such profit. We can, however, honor someone notwithstanding other past deeds that were despicable. Oskar Schindler was recognized, supported and honored for his efforts in saving 1,200 Jews from certain death notwithstanding his membership in the Nazi party and use of slave labor in his factories. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are honored for their efforts in establishing and preserving the existence of the United States of American, notwithstanding their acquiescence to the southern colonies' demand to maintain slavery as the price of establishing this nation or their ownership of slaves. Slavery is our Nation's "original sin" and we own it. It cannot be re-written and we do not and should not honor it.

    The Civil War was treason to bring about the end of the United States of America. It was insurrection to protect profit, an attempt to preserve slavery and brought about, in part, by the desertion by military officers - what could be more repulsive; there is nothing honorable in its cause. Removing the statues from a place of public honor is not re-writing history. it is no longer honoring what might be the worst moment in our history.

    The real question is why these statues were ever erected or why they stood for so long. I suppose the answer, as you noted, is the community wanted them. That these communities no longer want to honor the Civil War and what it stood for should be equally obvious. I doubt that the removal will cause anyone to forget about the Civil War or why it was fought. All one has to do is turn of the evening news.

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  2. If, indeed, the community wants the statue removed, it will be removed. What the community wants will ultimately be reflected in the decisions of its elected officials. That's democracy. Debating what the community SHOULD want; that's freedom.

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