The Right Must Defend Our Monuments

Life is tough for statues dedicated to dead white men. At the bare minimum, these statues will be spray painted. Worse, and more common these days, an unlucky statue will be dragged across town and dumped in the nearest body of water.

Authorities seem not to mind the recent destruction. Police stand idly by as mobs deface our heritage and disregard all rules and laws. Some authorities want to finish the mob’s work and topple the statues with taxpayer-funded services.

Republicans and conservatives appear remarkably unconcerned with this war on history. They’re too busy repeating Black Lives Matter talking points to notice our monuments being defaced and our statues razed. 

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee even approved an amendment, proposed by none other than Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to rename long-established military bases named for officers who served in the Confederate army and to destroy all Confederate monuments in military cemeteries. Only two Republicans opposed this move—Missouri’s Josh Hawley and  Tom Cotton of Arkansas. 

Fox News host Steve Hilton, a British immigrant who styles himself a “positive populist,” said America should tear down all offensive statues. “By defending offensive symbols, Republicans can concede substantive policy debate to the Democrats,” Hilton said. He then argued President Trump could show he was the real champion of  “equality of opportunity” by doing this. 

The Mob vs. History 

In reality, Republicans would only advance the Left’s agenda and decimate our national identity.

This assault on American heritage should be a priority for conservatives and Republicans. This isn’t just about Confederates or Christopher Columbus—this is about how we see ourselves as a country. Will we be a country that honors the heroes who built our nation, or will we only remember those who held views considered proper for 21st-century liberals?

The main targets for the mob are Confederates and Christopher Columbus. Many liberals and a good number of conservatives agree with the animus directed at both. The prevailing narrative says the Confederates were racist traitors who deserve the scorn of current Americans. Columbus is bad because he and his compatriots didn’t treat the Indians well. Both are symbols of “white supremacy” and must go. Leftists don’t care about how important these figures are to millions of Americans or to our past. The past must justify the present; anything that doesn’t must be discarded.

Contemporary Americans forget the purpose of these statues. To millions of Southerners, they honor their ancestors and local culture. 

They also served to heal the nation’s wounds after the Civil War. The Confederates lost, but the victors didn’t want to treat their countrymen as a conquered people. Union veterans, while disagreeing with their cause, respected the valor and service that Southern soldiers showed for their native states. The monuments allowed the South to revere their heroes and ancestors as part of the American nation and the American story. It expresses regional pride and particularity. Those who want to topple want the South to lose its historic identity and to embrace a generic and inoffensive character. 

Like the Confederacy, many Indian tribes also fought against the U.S. government, with many of them committing all kinds of atrocities against American citizens. Yet, many places are named after the natives and monuments to these many tribes dot the country. The Amerindian monuments serve both as a reminder of our past and heritage symbols for their descendants. We rightly honor their bravery and accept these stories as part of our American heritage. Confederate statues act in a similar fashion.

Statues of Columbus serve a similar purpose. Italian-Americans see him as their great American hero, the man who “found” the New World and set off the European settlement of the continent. Columbus Day became a federal holiday due to Italian lobbying. Even if you’re not an Italian, you should see Columbus as one of the great men of history and an integral part of our heritage. His voyage was an epic journey that changed the course of history and ignited the European settlement of America. Columbus is the reason the vast majority of us are here. 

Columbus’s hostile relations with the natives are the publicized reason for hating him, but his actions were typical of the time. It also wasn’t like he was interacting with peaceful children of the forest. The Caribs, for instance, were renowned for their violence and cannibalism. Columbus’s own savagery often was in response to the aggressions of the natives.

Anti-Columbus rhetoric insinuates that Europeans should never have come to the Americas and that the New World would’ve been better off without the pale-faced intruders. The anti-Columbus movement is an attack not only on Italians, but on all European descendants and upon the foundations of America. The natives didn’t found America—the settlers from Europe did. Statues to Columbus honor him for leading the way.

Many sensible Americans may feel it’s OK to remove these monuments because they think it’s a way to make the mob’s demands stop there. But we already know it’s moved beyond that. 

Thomas Jefferson is a target. A statue dedicated to the author of the Declaration of Independence was torn down in Portland, Oregon over the weekend. Some Thomas Jefferson schools are seeking a name change. Despite his integral role in the founding of our nation, Jefferson was a slave owner who expressed racial views that would leave him permanently unemployed today. 

George Washington is also a target. Statues to him are him vandalized and destroyed and murals dedicated to him are now covered up. Like Jefferson, he was also a slave owner and thus not fit for public adoration.

Even the Great Emancipator is on the chopping block. Boston is considering taking down a statue to Lincoln because it looks too racist now. Even abolitionist statues and monuments to black Union soldiers have experienced vandalism in the recent unrest.

There is no end to this madness in appeasing the Left. The Left won’t stop at Confederates or Columbus—they want to wipe away any traces of America that challenge their worldview. The only figures we can honor are those who uphold progressive orthodoxy to the letter as they determine that letter today. They want their version of history to be the only past we remember. 

Trump and Republicans will receive no plaudits or praise for joining in this war against our heritage. It is essential that they do everything in their power to defend our monuments and history. If they don’t, the America they wish to make great again will be gone for good.

About Paul Bradford

Paul Bradford is a Capitol Hill refugee now earning an honest living.

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

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