America slowly replaces its memorials with amnesials.
The transformation means America necessarily becomes another place with hardly anyone the wiser. If “amnesials” do not ring a bell, not to fret. They are designed to make you forget.
The city of New Orleans — the oft-flooded place and not the train with 15 cars, 15 restless riders, three conductors, and 25 sacks of mail — toppled a 106-year-old statue of former resident Jefferson Davis this week as part of an ongoing campaign to bowdlerize history through the destruction of Confederate monuments. The government vandals arrived in the dead of night. They wore masks. They blacked out the names on company trucks.
The only thing more Orwellian than the removal of the statue and other memorials is the rationalization behind the suppression. “The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu maintained. “New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance.”
And they do so wearing disguises. At least the defacers halfway round the world show their faces.
In the summer of 2014, ISIS demolished a Christian monastery near Mosul founded more than 1,500 years ago. In 2004, the Islamic Republic of Iran destroyed the gravesite and shrine to Quddus, a prominent disciple of Babism’s central figure. In 2001, Mullah Muhammad Omar dynamited two fifth-century statues of Buddha, one 175-feet high, carved out of a mountain in Afghanistan.
“Muslims should be proud of smashing idols,” Omar announced after ordering the act of cultural genocide. “It has given praise to Allah that we have destroyed them.” In New Orleans, the mob less eloquently chanted the chorus of sports-arena staple: “Na, na, na, na/Hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”
From Autotrader airbrushing the Confederate flag from atop The Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee in a commercial to the Apple Store removing a Civil War-themed video game from its shelves for its inclusion of the controversial banner, a Taliban vibe permeates America. Killing hundreds of thousands of Southerners, burning Atlanta, and occupying parts of Dixie for more than a decade didn’t suffice. The politically correct feel compelled to issue periodic “na, na, na, na” taunts nearly 150 years after the fact.
Political correctness is that scorned lover who scissors you out of pictures after the breakup. If you think of New Orleans as a giant magazine stand, the removed Confederate monuments are the publications with the brown bags enveloping them. Like the mice gnawing away at your electrical wiring, the statue wreckers view their actions as progress. The barbarians within the gates never quite grasp their barbarism.
“Much of the past is irredeemable; the best hope for a restoration in the future to that pristine purity and fraternity of the Union, rests on the opinions and character of men who are to succeed this generation: that they may be best suited to that blessed work, one, whose public course is ended, invokes them to draw their creed from the fountains of our political history, rather than from the lower stream, polluted as it has been by self-seeking place-hunters and by sectional strife.”
President Davis, an American commander in chief even more controversial than President Trump, wrote these words in The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, a massive tome that proved him better with a pen than with politics. Unfortunately, the “sectional strife” that Davis warned against before fueling it never quite subsides.
Because one can’t save the irredeemable past does not give one license to redeem oneself by erasing it. We obliterated the South on the battlefield. Why the self-righteous need to obliterate it from our memory banks?