Much of this fall’s racial protest activity has been surreal, such as the president and chancellor at the University of Missouri being forced out of their jobs over what appears to be a series of hoaxes. Calls for absurd “safe spaces” and even more absurd punishments for “microagressions” and other imaginary offenses certainly don’t add much reality to the picture. Nor do demands for buildings to be named after convicted cop-killer and long-time fugitive Assata Shakur (at Cal-Berkeley) and for campus police to be eliminated (numerous colleges).
But one issue in the semester-long assault on common sense that does appear to have some merit, at least at first glance, revolves around the numerous demands that offensive statues be removed or somehow negated. After all, didn’t Eastern Europeans immediately trash monuments to Lenin and Ceausescu when the Iron Curtain fell? So why shouldn’t black students take some offense at monuments of people perceived to represent anti-black racism?
Jesse Saffron takes a thoughtful and serious look at this complex issue in his latest article “Erasing the Past Will Not Improve the Future.”