In my youth, I played football at Catholic Central High School. I played both the offensive and defensive line. As a defensive lineman, the goal was to search, destroy, and sack the quarterback; as an offensive lineman, the goal was to be bloodied and battered so the quarterback could garner laurels and girls. Now, as then, it remains more fun to sack than to protect.
Just ask the Left who, with all the selective outrage and deft intellectual subtlety of Robespierre on a burgundy bender, have turned American public squares into Paris in the Terror. Ironically, given the impassioned grievances proffered to defend their claim that “mobocracy in the pursuit of statuary is no vice,” they sure seem to be enjoying themselves as they chant and chisel.
Conservatives, not so much. Like offensive lineman, the Right lines up to protect history and tradition and gets bloodied and battered by the onrushing mob of Leftists sacking statues with an efficiency that would make Alaric envious. Though aware a definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same action in the same circumstances and expecting a different result, conservatives persist in their Sisyphean task of defending Western Civilization from itself. Where’s the fun in that?
This predictable and stolid defense of “the permanent things” by conservatives is not entirely surprising, even if it is unimaginative. After all, a “conservative” Congress has shown a decided disinclination to dismantle Obama Care—let alone the administrative state; moreover, this generation of conservatives reveres a president so opposed to vandalism that he told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Regardless of the reason, conservatives’ current position during the Left’s statue flap is aptly summarized by Iggy Pop: “No fun to hang around feelin’ that same old way; no fun to hang around freaked out for another day.”
So, how should conservatives tackle the statue issue?
Some conservatives have sought to emulate the Left’s tactics by demanding statues of communists and those who supported this murderous pretext for human bondage to an omnipotent state be removed from public grounds. While sympathetic to this argument and offended by these bronzed homages to Leftist butchers, I am equally content to know somewhere a bust of Lenin is having history’s verdict rendered upon him by pigeons and an occasional hobo.
No, it is time conservatives remembered the best defense is a good offense. It’s time to move the ball up the field and affirm the primacy of liberty by erecting monuments to champions of American and all human freedom. (And, yes, fiscal hawks, the emphasis should be on privately funded statues in public places.)
Thus, while the Left retroactively rants for the purpose of dragging us back to Rousseau’s primitive state of nature, the Right should proactively celebrate those who’ve ensured our present and future pursuit of happiness in our free republic and world.
The benefits of this approach are manifold. If a monument exists to memorialize what is right about America and her sovereign citizens—such as the virtues inherent in faith, family, community, and country—let people see it by erecting statues to those who have truly and timelessly exemplified it. For a constructive and, frankly, necessary change, conservatives should best the Left not by emulating destruction, but by initiating construction—of say, on a college campus a statue of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass shaking hands. “Here comes my friend Douglass,” indeed.
Confounded, the Left would fumble about to fan faux outrage over this statute of two Republicans, and all other such testaments to humanity’s undying love of liberty. Yet silently speaking louder than the mob can shout, these monuments would endure to inspire generations unborn.
Now that, my fellow conservatives, is how to have fun.