For looting gold-plated shingles off the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus during their sack of Rome in 455, the Vandals helplessly watched history expropriate their name into a label for mindless despoilers of property. When does history turn “Democrat” into some euphemism for chutzpah for destroying monuments to Democrats all the while blaming Republicans for their existence?
This week marked a dangerous period for statuary. Stone and bronze men came down at the behest of officeholders and activists who cited public safety, lest the simulacrums, presumably, come alive, à la Doctor Who’s “Weeping Angels,” when people avert their gaze.
Under cover of darkness, the mayor of Baltimore, recalling the midnight Mayflower-truck removal of another part of the city’s history, ordered the ouster of monuments to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, Confederate women, the South’s soldiers, and Roger Taney, the Marylander who remained loyal to the Union but authored the infamous Dred Scott decision during his 28-year tenure as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Durham, a mob tore down the Confederate Soldiers Monument. Law enforcement insists that it will prosecute the malefactors. But on Monday night, the police watched without intervening during the prolonged destruction of public property.
Like a store’s brown paper bag over the latest issue of Swank, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts continues to keep wooden boards around an inconspicuous gravestone-like marker on Boston Harbor’s Georges Island that commemorates the 13 unlucky Confederates who died there as prisoners of war during the Civil War. The Bay State redacts their existence.
An NPR/PBS/Marist poll indicates that the vast majority of Americans wish for the memorials to remain. Nearly two-thirds of respondents prefer the monuments to stay put while just over a quarter want them gone. Though the people of the democracy want one thing, the politicians of the Democracy want another.
One politician endures daily abuse for standing with the majority of the people, who, surely, find their position grounded in something other than bigotry. (Can anyone really find 62 percent of Americans guilty of racism?)
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” President Donald Trump tweeted. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
It makes one think. For as long as anyone can remember, neither Christmas nor Easter nor the Fourth of July ranked as the holiest of holidays in Democrat Nation. Jefferson-Jackson Day did. So when do the Democrats erase the day of rubber-chicken dinners and cash-cow milkings and other pastoral politician pastimes dedicated to their two slaveholder party founding fathers?
The thought apparently occurred to them before it did to me. Connecticut’s party committee members unanimously voted to strip the two presidents off their annual dinners in 2015 on the grounds that the change represented a “dedication to diversity and forward-thinking vision.” New Hampshire, setting itself up for future outrage by feminists in placating current civil-rights activists, changed its Jefferson-Jackson Day to Kennedy-Clinton Day that same year. In Iowa, then-party chairman Andy McGuire (now running for governor) justified cutting ties to the party’s formative figures by saying, “The vote today confirms that our party believes it is important to change the name of the dinner to align with the values of our modern-day Democratic Party: inclusiveness, diversity, and equality.”
An amnesia vibe rings out over the din of the chants of the protesters. Current Democrats crusade against past Democrats, who include chief justices, presidents, senators, and other major figures who proudly affixed a “D” to the end of their names. All the while, the crusaders imagine — and succeed in getting large swaths of the public to buy into their collective hallucination — that they fight Republican racism in their war on statues.
The Democratic Party can erase American history standing in the middle of the rotary or riding atop a horse on a pedestal in the park or hiding on an island seven miles from a city. Erasing its own history proves more difficult.
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