To update an old joke, removing Confederate statues is a bit like wetting one’s self in a dark suit: It offers a warm feeling but little of lasting value.
The erasist frenzy to tear down Confederate monuments is accelerating at the speed of mob rule. What began in April with New Orleans’s planned-if-ill-advised banishment of statues of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and generals P. G. T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee has devolved into vandalism.
‐ Hooligans in Durham, N.C., on August 14 toppled a statue of a graycoat from a pedestal, from which it crashed, crumpled, and was spat upon.
‐ Bone-headed Atlanta rioters attacked and damaged what they reckoned was a Confederate memorial. In fact, as the Journal-Constitution explained, the Peace Monument “features an angel standing above a Confederate soldier, guiding him to lay down his weapon.” Oops. Never mind!
‐ Houston police arrested Andrew Schneck, 25, at the statue of Confederate general Richard Dowling. Officials say that Schneck had enough materials with him “to produce a viable explosive device.” These included nitro glycerine and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, both of which are designed to go ka-boom. Schneck, who was on five years’ probation after pleading guilty to federal explosives charges in 2014, lives in his mother’s home. That’s where, she says, he conducts “chemistry experiments.”
The old-guard media nearly fainted when President Donald J. Trump said on August 15, “This week, it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, ‘Where does it stop?’”
But within a few hours of making these “off the rails” and “unhinged” remarks, Trump was vindicated. The Left made precisely the demands that he predicted.
As Fox News’s Jesse Watters noted, Al Sharpton shared his thoughts about the Jefferson Memorial with PBS’s Charlie Rose that evening. “Public monuments are supported by public funds. You are asking me to subsidize the insult of my family.” Referring to Jefferson’s slave ownership, Sharpton added: “The public should not be paying to uphold somebody who had that kind of background.”
Vice News last Thursday headlined Wilbert L. Cooper’s op-ed as follows: “Let’s blow up Mount Rushmore” — the South Dakota landmark where Washington and Jefferson are captured in stone. The website changed that to “Let’s Get Rid of Mount Rushmore” and lamented that “the use of ‘blow up’ in the original headline as a rhetorical device was misguided and insensitive” — insensitivity being among the Left’s cardinal sins. Cooper’s article mocks “Abe Lincoln squatting on his (recently vandalized) throne [and] George Washington’s phallus towering over everything in DC.”
“I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or a Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue,” political commentor Angela Rye declared the same day on CNN. “They all need to come down.”
And why stop with slave owners?
Last week, the Lincoln Memorial was defaced with red spray paint. A graffito there screamed: “Fuck the law.” Also, a bust of Abraham Lincoln was torched in Chicago, in a state that calls itself “The Land of Lincoln.” Presumably the Great Emancipator waited too long to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Why on Earth didn’t Lincoln do so exactly one second after he uttered the words, “So help me God,” at his first inauguration on March 4, 1861? Instead, Lincoln waited until January 1, 1863, after the Union victory at Antietam. Too little, too late. What a racist!
And why stop with Americans?
Criminals in Baltimore early Monday morning sledgehammered a 225-year-old monument to Christopher Columbus. A sign attached to the obelisk stated: “The future is racial and economic justice.” On Saturday, a Columbus statue in Boston was drenched with red paint. The same oil-based fate befell a similar tribute in Houston last Friday. New York City officials now are debating whether to sweep Columbus from his perch high above Columbus Circle, just as I predicted. Remember, Columbus is the explorer who injected the white man into the Western Hemisphere. These days, that’s unforgivable.
And near Los Angeles, one or more malcontents last week painted the hands red on a statue of Father Junipero Serra, the Catholic missionary who Christianized Indians in California. Charges of his abuse of Indians likely triggered this ritual manicure in blood.
As Rick Hampson wrote in USA Today last weekend, “The nation’s Confederate memorial infrastructure — estates, plantations, battlefields, graveyards, birthplaces, shrines, and at least two huge obelisks — is too vast and diverse to be moved, hidden, or destroyed.”
Nonetheless, as it airbrushes American history, the Left will give this task the old college try.
So, imagine that America demolished all of these Confederate monuments, as if Beauregard, Davis, Lee, and their ilk never had been born. And, for good measure, picture these relics being forged into bronze, copper, and steel ingots.
None of this would do a damn thing to improve the life of even one black American.
‐ If this mass-metal meltdown occurred between now and Labor Day, in a Khmer Rouge–like extravaganza of erasism, black Americans still would face a national unemployment rate of 7.4 percent, sadly higher than today’s 4.3 percent overall joblessness figure or 3.8 percent for whites. According to the latest Centers for Disease Control data, a black girl born in 2015 can anticipate living until age 78.5. A white girl? 81.3 years. Evacuating pedestals will not add one afternoon to that black girl’s life expectancy.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s second-quarter 2017 black home-ownership rate of 42.3 percent trails the national figure of 63.7 percent and 72.2 percent for whites. Will loan officers now tell black borrowers: “The statue of Stonewall Jackson finally is gone. So, your mortgage- application is approved!” Don’t bank on it. Raising any such hopes is as absurd as it is cruel.
‐ Baltimore last Tuesday removed four Civil War–era statues that made people uncomfortable, including — interestingly enough — one dedicated to Confederate women. This will do nothing to reverse a more severe source of discomfort: the dire life prospects for pupils at five local government high schools and one middle school where — WBFF-TV reports — not one, single, solitary student tested proficient in math or English in 2016.
‐ In Charlottesville, Va., Ground Zero for this recent chaos, the local government now appears poised to send the controversial Lee statue to oblivion. When that happens, 58 percent of black children still will remain born out of wedlock in surrounding Albermarle County.
‐ Durham’s Confederate Soldiers Monument is now just a steel pretzel. That must be truly inspiring news for the 22.1 percent of black Durhamites who live below the poverty line.
‐ After 9.4 inches of rain inundated New Orleans in just three hours on August 5, large sectors of the Crescent City filled with water and stayed submerged. NOLA got soaked, it soon emerged, thanks to stalled pumps, key power failures, and an overall system that has “never been fully operational,” in the words of Democratic mayor Mitch Landrieu.
This fiasco might have been avoided had Landrieu spent more time assuring that this critical infrastructure functioned and did not re-flood the hundreds of thousands of his constituents who survived Hurricane Katrina and worked valiantly to rebuild their lives and their spectacular city. Instead, Landrieu squandered precious time and political capital shielding New Orleanians (60 percent of whom are black) from inanimate and sometimes exquisite works of art, not destructive and potentially lethal flood waters.
‐ If the absence of Confederate statues is the key to black health, success, and happiness, Chicago should be the black Beverly Hills. Instead, many of its black neighborhoods are poor and ill-served by sketchy schools. Today’s five-year high-school graduation rate for black students is 67 percent; one third of black children get left behind.
Worst of all, Chicago is America’s Mecca of murder. To date in 2017, 2,435 people have been shot, and 451 have been killed — most of them black. Last weekend included 63 shootings and eight murders. In 2016, the Sun-Times reports, 801 Chicagoans were murdered. Among them, 623 (78 percent) were black. Police found suspects in only 102 of these homicides. In these cases, 96 percent of suspects were black.
Confederate monuments bear zero blame for this black-on-black carnage.
If these statues truly cause blacks and, perhaps, sensitive whites, such high anxiety, why have they suddenly become toxic? After all, it has been 152 years since the end of the Civil War, 53 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and eight-and-a-half years since Barack Obama first occupied the Oval Office. Why were these antiquities not retired during any of these intervals?
In fact, why was this not a priority (or even on the national radar) for most of Obama’s tenure? Jeh Johnson told ABC News Sunday that ditching these statues is “a matter of public safety and homeland security.” Really? If so, why didn’t Johnson uproot them between 2013 and 2017, when he ran the U.S. Department of Homeland Security?
Why was this not a priority (or even on the national radar) for most of Obama’s tenure?
Have these statues suddenly gained oppressive power that they lacked across these many decades? Or has this topic become a handy tool for liberals and Leftist radicals to stir the racial pot, pit America’s sub-populations against each other, conceal their own intellectual bankruptcy, and then blame the whole mess on President Trump?
Alas for the president, every fact that he presents (e.g., “both sides” did bear blame for Charlottesville’s violence, as the Associated Press, NBC News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Reuters, other media outlets, and local police all confirm) and conciliatory statement that he makes (“We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection — really — and I say this so strongly — true affection for each other”) gets convoluted into “racist” comments by those who hate his guts and even “hope Trump is assassinated,” as State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D., Mo.) viciously spat.
Not to be outdone, a new movement called “I stand with Maria” urges people to sign a petition supporting this legislator’s desire for the cold-blooded murder of the president of the United States:
We, as constituents and community members and people who feel the same frustration with our current political landscape stand with Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal. We know that there is a huge difference between saying that someone hopes Donald Trump is assassinated and someone calling for his assassination.
The Stalinesque quest to expunge Confederate-era statues from American history may offer people a warm, runny sensation. And it has given the Left a nifty new weapon to flog its enemies. But it won’t do bupkis to benefit black people. If some folks want an easy way to signal their virtue and each tell the world, “Hey, look: I am not a racist!” then great. Hooray for them! The nation can applaud in unison as these moral leaders denounce the Confederacy and reassert the evil of slavery — in case anyone is fuzzy on that topic. And everyone but David Duke and his dozens of fans will feel wonderful.
The biggest tragedy of all is that America now is devouring itself with meaningless symbolism, not the hard work of restoring prosperity, peace, and love to this embattled society.