bookmark_borderBoston Art Commission meeting 10/13/2020

On Tuesday, October 13, I attended a virtual meeting of the Boston Art Commission. One of the main topics of discussion at the meeting was the Christopher Columbus statue that was barbarically decapitated in June as part of the Black Lives Matter protests. As anyone who reads my blog can probably tell, that is a topic that I’ve been very interested in and passionate about. I learned some new things at the meeting and got an opportunity to share my views about the Columbus statue. 

One thing that I learned is that six works of public art in Boston are currently under review for potential removal, alteration, or addition of interpretive signage. In addition to the Columbus statue and a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a newly freed slave known as the Emancipation Group, the list also includes a statue of military historian Samuel Eliot Morison, the Founder’s Memorial on Boston Common, the Boston Common Tablet, and the Francis Parkman Memorial. The commission already voted unanimously to remove the Emancipation Group because the depiction of the freed slave was deemed to be patronizing. At today’s meeting the commission members discussed logistical details for the removal and storage of that statue. The commission recommends moving the statue to a museum, library, or school, as opposed to a public location. A series of “celebratory” online events involving music and dance are being planned for the days(s) the statue is put into a crate and removed. 

Then the meeting turned to the topic of the Columbus statue. The commission announced that they have received reports from two different conservators about repairing the statue. Both reports agreed that the statue’s head could be reattached, but the repairs would be visible. In terms of preventing future vandalism, the reports concluded that there is no practical way to do this. There are no known materials that can strengthen stone to make it more resistant to damage. Putting a longer pin inside the neck to hold the head in place would make it more difficult to decapitate the statue (the idea of someone deliberately attempting to do this is still incomprehensible to me), but even more damage would result if someone (God forbid) did. And the statue could be coated in a material to protect it from paint and graffiti, but this could change its appearance and might need to be routinely reapplied. As a result, the commission recommended not returning the statue to an outdoor public location once it is repaired. This fits with Mayor Marty Walsh’s recent announcement that the statue is too badly damaged to return to its old location, the waterfront park in the North End known as Christopher Columbus Park, and will instead be relocated to an affordable housing development being constructed by the Knights of Columbus. 

The commission plans to arrange for the construction of a new sculpture to take the place of the Columbus statue in the park. This sculpture will honor the Italian-American community and its subject will be determined with input from that community. Separately, the commission plans to put up a sculpture honoring the Indigenous community in a different location. “Both of these stories deserve to be told and should not by any means be in competition with one another,” Karin Goodfellow, the city’s Director of Public Art, said at the meeting.

Since the brutal beheading, the statue’s pedestal has been left in place, and the commission recommended keeping it there for now and adding interpretive signage. The pedestal is more than just a base for the statue; it is engraved with names of all the people and organizations who worked to commission it and bring it to Boston.

A variety of views were expressed during the public testimony portion of the meeting:

In the anti-Columbus camp, Jean-Luc Pierite of the North American Indian Center of Boston said that he and his organization oppose the maintenance and public display of any statue of Christopher Columbus and proceeded to list a litany of atrocities – mass rapes, drownings, hangings, hunting by dogs, smashing of infants’ heads against rocks – allegedly committed by the Genoese explorer and his associates. “Neither the statue nor the pedestal have any place in the City of Boston,” he said. 

Pierre Belanger of Open Systems complained about the “illegitimate placement” of the statue and the “illegitimate renaming” of the park to Christopher Columbus Park in the first place (it had originally been known simply as Waterfront Park). He even ridiculed the names on the pedestal, calling these individuals “so-called sponsors.”

Rev. Joe Rocha began talking about getting rid of all names of slave owners from the City of Boston, including that of historic meeting house and tourist destination Faneuil Hall. The commissioners pointed out that this topic was outside the scope of the meeting, as the Art Commission does not have any input on the names of public spaces, only the art displayed in them. 

On the other hand, several people spoke out in defense of Columbus, describing the statue as an important symbol for the Italian-American community and expressing dismay that the act of vandalism and the possibility of future vandalism are essentially being allowed to decide the fate of the statue. Importantly, the idea of commissioning a new statue of Columbus to take the place of the old one was proposed by several speakers, something that I did not realize was a possibility but strongly support.

For example, Diane Modica of the Sons and Daughters of Italy accused the Art Commission of being biased towards anti-Columbus groups and failing to reach out to the Italian-American community. She criticized society’s maligning of Columbus and of Italian-Americans in general. “Our position in society has been erased,” she said

The next speaker, Laurie Stivaletta, is the granddaughter of an Italian immigrant who landed at Ellis Island and settled in Boston, and whose name is on the pedestal of the Columbus statue. “I am greatly disappointed that an act of violence on our city could change the fabric of our lives,” she said. She argued that Columbus, although flawed, was not the villain he has recently been portrayed as. She called his 1492 voyage “one of the most significant impact points in our civilization” and added, “no one since has impacted the Americas in the same way.” And she made the excellent point that because of its location on the waterfront, the park is the perfect location for a statue of the great explorer and navigator. 

Harry Johnston, a North End business owner, said that both Bostonians and tourists love the Columbus statue. “You don’t have to be Italian-American to love Christopher Columbus,” he said. “His statue is beautiful, his story is beautiful.” He called whoever vandalized the statue a terrorist and an extortionist and urged the city not to give in, as doing so might encourage the vandal(s) to attack other statues, such as those of George Washington and Sam Adams. He also mentioned the horrific events in Portland in which statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were destroyed. “You don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he said. “What about the diversity of Italian-Americans?”

Nadia DiCarlo said that Columbus symbolizes immigration and the idea of cultures colliding, and that relocating the statue to a location inside a building would simply not be the same. “Not all historical figures were perfect,” she pointed out. 

Commission member Camilo Alvarez called the act of vandalism, although not a good thing, a form of communication. Ekua Holmes, the Vice-Chair of the Art Commission, reassured everyone that no matter what is ultimately decided, the commission does not support brutalizing any work of art. 

It heartened me to hear so many people speaking out in defense of the Columbus statue (the pro-Columbus speakers outnumbered the anti-Columbus speakers by about two to one), and it gave me a sense of hope to learn that although far from a certainty, commissioning a new Columbus statue is at least a possibility. The Boston Art Commission meets once a month, and meetings are open to the public. I will likely attend next month’s meeting as well to keep informed of any new developments.

bookmark_borderPortland’s intolerant “Day of Rage”

On Sunday, the day before Columbus Day, about 300 evil excuses for human beings held what they described as a “Day of Rage” in Portland, Oregon to protest against the Italian explorer. Disgustingly, they tore down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, fired bullets through the window of a restaurant, and smashed the windows of numerous buildings, including restaurants, a jewelry store, a bank, and a coffee shop. They also attempted to burn down the Oregon Historical Society, breaking windows and throwing flares inside, and stole and damaged a historic quilt made by 15 African-American women to celebrate America’s bicentennial. 

According to CNN, flyers for the Day of Rage warned that photography and videography would not be allowed. Apparently whoever organized this event is unaware that in America, there is this thing called the First Amendment. In addition to providing evidence that the protesters intended to commit criminal actions, it is obnoxious that someone would believe they have the right to tell other people that they are not allowed to take photos or videos in public places.

At least two people have been arrested to far, according to local news station KGW. Brandon Bartells, 38, of Pasco, Washington was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and riot for tearing down the Roosevelt statue. He allegedly chained his van to the statue and used the vehicle to pull it down. Malik Fard Muhamad, 23, of Indiana was charged with first-degree criminal mischief, riot, and unlawful possession of a firearm. He allegedly smashed the windows of the Historical Society and other buildings with a metal baton.

According to journalist Andy Ngo, one of the rioters, Amanda Siebe, is running for Congress. “It was so f***ing wet tonight,” she tweeted. “But still, we brought down 2 statues. It was an amazing thing to see those statues fall!” The prospect that someone who thinks like this and writes publicly in such an unprofessional manner might hold public office is disturbing. 

Ngo also reported that the restaurant that was shot at, Heroes American Cafe, was targeted because it was decorated with photos of first responders.

The City of Portland said that the damage to the statues will cost $30,000 to repair. This is after rioters already destroyed statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and an elk in the same city.

District Attorney Mike Schmidt called this weekend’s vandalism “sickening,” “inexcusable,” and “without purpose and justification.”

I could not agree more. I condemn these destructive actions in the strongest of terms. Contrary to the sentiments expressed by congressional candidate Amanda Siebe, the destruction of statues is the exact opposite of “amazing.” It is repugnant and despicable. The fact that someone would deliberately pull down a beautiful, magnificent piece of art, and then be happy about this accomplishment, is completely incomprehensible. Every time a monument is torn down, my soul feels like it has been stabbed. Every loss of a statue makes the world a worse place. How could someone do such a thing or express joy about it?

It is also completely illogical that supporters of Antifa and Black Lives Matter would have such a thing as a “Day of Rage.” Those who support these movements have absolutely nothing to be angry about. They have gotten their way on everything. All four major sports leagues and countless celebrities vigorously support their movement. Any person or institution that dares to express dissenting views is immediately condemned, boycotted, and/or fired. Members of these movements have already destroyed hundreds upon hundreds of businesses, buildings, and priceless statues, as well as assaulting and killing innocent people. They have succeeded in causing the Confederate States of America and its iconography to be almost completely obliterated from our society, Christopher Columbus to be slandered as a mass murderer and his holiday replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day in many states, and even founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to become controversial.

It is those on the opposite side – those who admire the Confederacy and/or Columbus and/or the founding fathers – who have the right to be enraged. Our statues have been brutally destroyed and our culture and history mercilessly attacked. And now, bizarrely, those who have been trampling on our rights have the audacity to claim to be “enraged” by us, the people on whom they have been trampling. The “Day of Rage” participants and all those who share their beliefs are bullies with no tolerance for any cultures, opinions, or values other than their own. Christopher Columbus is a hero and a cultural symbol to many Italian-Americans, including myself. To hold an event whose sole purpose is to demonstrate rage towards a holiday that celebrates Italian heritage is an act of bigotry. Everyone who participated in this event deserves to be charged with a hate crime. 

bookmark_borderColumbus Day 2020

Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End (photo by yours truly)

Happy Columbus Day! Thanks to the politically correct, anti-history bullies who are in the process of taking over more and more of our society, Christopher Columbus has become unpopular and marginalized. Therefore, he deserves to be honored and celebrated now more than ever. I am in the process of developing a project to honor and celebrate all of the people from history who have become victims of “cancel culture.” For now, please enjoy this blog post about Christopher Columbus, an imperfect and still amazing explorer, navigator, visionary, and leader.

Fun facts:

  • Columbus was born in 1451 in the Republic of Genoa.
  • He was the son of a wool weaver and taught himself to read and write.
  • He was above-average height and had reddish hair and blue eyes.
  • Starting at age 10, he traveled widely, going as far north as Britain and as far south as Ghana.
  • He developed a plan to find a western route to the East Indies in hopes of making a fortune from the spice trade; this resulted in his accidental discovery of the Americas.
  • He landed in the Americas for the first time on October 12, 1492.
  • During one battle, Columbus and his crew rescued several women who were being held as sex slaves and children who were going to be eaten.
  • He made 4 total voyages between Europe and the Americas.
  • In 1504, he amazed natives in Jamaica by predicting a lunar eclipse.
  • His official military rank is Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
  • He died on May 20, 1506 at age 54. His remains are located in the Cathedral of Seville in Spain.
  • In 1937, October 12 became Columbus Day in the U.S. In 1971, Columbus Day changed to being celebrated on the first Monday in October.

Quotes:

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

“Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.”

“Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. Those that are enlightened before the others are condemned to pursue that light in spite of the others.”

“Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new ones added, and others dropped.”

Continue reading “Columbus Day 2020”

bookmark_borderMy letter to Stone Mountain Memorial Association

I recently wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association asking them to preserve Stone Mountain’s Confederate Memorial Carving. This likeness of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson is the largest Confederate monument in the world, and sadly but unsurprisingly has come under fire from the politically-correct bullies. I got this idea from the awesome organization Monuments Across Dixie, which works to protect existing Confederate statues and build new ones. I urge you to write a letter as well, following the instructions in Monuments Across Dixie’s Facebook post, if you also support preserving this amazing piece of art and history. 

bookmark_borderUpdate on Christopher Columbus statue

After being brutally decapitated, Boston’s Christopher Columbus statue will have a new home. On Monday, according to Boston.com, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that Columbus will be moving to an affordable housing development that is being built in the North End by (appropriately) the Knights of Columbus.

“It will be visible for everyone who wants to see it,” said Walsh. “It will still be an important part of the fabric of the neighborhood.”

Ever since the disgraceful act of vandalism took place in June as Black Lives Matter protests were gathering steam around the country, the statue has been in a city storage facility being repaired. Sadly, it will be impossible to completely return the statue to its former condition; the head was broken into multiple pieces and signs of the damage will still be visible even once the pieces are put back together. But once the repairs are complete, the statue will be turned over to the Knights of Columbus for placement in its new home. 

I would have preferred the statue to return to its old home in Christopher Columbus Park. This beautiful park, with a trellis, many types of flowers, and a beautiful view of the ocean, is situated at the edge of the North End, Boston’s Italian neighborhood. The Columbus statue was a perfect symbol of Italian-American heritage, welcoming visitors to the North End. But at least the statue will still be publicly displayed, just in a less prominent place than before. And, as Frank Mazzaglia, chairman of the Italian American Alliance, pointed out, even supporters of the statue had concerns about returning it to the park because of the likelihood of future vandalism.

Christopher Columbus Park in happier days

“Vandalism and destruction in our neighborhood is never okay,” said Mayor Walsh. But it’s difficult not to see the decision to relocate the statue as contradicting these sentiments. If vandalism is not okay, it shouldn’t be allowed to decide the fate of the statue. If vandalism is not okay, the city should not reward the vandal(s) by giving them what they want, namely the removal of the statue from the park. I am looking forward to going to see Columbus in his new home… but it still does not sit right that the city of Boston essentially gave in to the bullies instead of standing up to them. As a proud Italian-American who loves history, I will no longer feel welcome in the waterfront park knowing that a hateful, intolerant, and despicable bully was allowed to erase my heritage.

bookmark_borderSacco & Vanzetti statue should be in addition to, not instead of, Columbus

In yesterday’s Boston Globe Magazine, I read an article proposing a new solution for Christopher Columbus Park in the North End after a despicable excuse for a human being decapitated the statue of the park’s namesake.

Megan Montgomery suggested that a statue of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti be created to replace the statue of Christopher Columbus. Sacco and Vanzetti were the two Italian-American immigrants convicted in 1921 of killing a paymaster and a guard and stealing $15,000 from the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, MA. They were executed in 1927. Many people believed at the time and still believe today that Sacco and Vanzetti were wrongfully convicted. Protests and riots took place, not unlike what has happened in response to the death of George Floyd. Montgomery argues that building a Sacco and Vanzetti statue would raise awareness of wrongful convictions and that their story is relevant to the issues of prejudice and classism facing America today. She also points out that Sacco, a shoemaker, and Vanzetti, a fish peddler, became friends after getting involved with workers’ rights and anti-World War I activism. She calls them heroes who fought for the rights of everyday people. 

This is all true, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting up a Sacco and Vanzetti statue. But this should be in addition to the Columbus statue, not instead of it. 

“Columbus symbolizes violence and unchecked power, and doesn’t deserve a statue any more than he deserves a federal holiday,” Montgomery writes. She claims that the Columbus statue symbolizes “historical oppression” and calls on Boston’s Italian-American community to “memorialize new heroes.” She points out the usual anti-Columbus arguments, which go essentially as follows: 

  • Columbus wasn’t really Italian-American, as Italy didn’t exist in 1492 (he was from Genoa, which is part of modern-day Italy).
  • Columbus didn’t exactly discover the Americas, because they were already inhabited.
  • Columbus and his supporters colonized the lands that they found, enslaved the native people, and caused many deaths.

Obviously, Christopher Columbus was not perfect. His story and deeds involved violence, and he and his supporters were not exactly respectful towards the native people that they encountered. But that does not mean that he symbolizes violence, unchecked power, or oppression. Nor does it mean that he deserves to have his statue decapitated and his holiday canceled. Every person is a mix of various qualities, some good and some bad. To some people, violent colonization is the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the name Columbus. To others, Columbus is fondly memorialized as a skilled navigator, charismatic leader, brave explorer, and the first Italian-American (as a native of Genoa, he comes close enough). After all, even though the so-called New World wasn’t new to all the people who had been living there for millennia, it is hard to deny that Columbus’s achievements required intelligence, determination, courage, and independence of thought. 

If I had to choose who is more worthy of a statue, Columbus or Sacco and Vanzetti, I would choose Columbus. But we shouldn’t have to choose. There’s nothing wrong with having both. People are always going to have different opinions on the relative merits of various historical figures. The same individual can symbolize different things depending on who you ask. People have different ideas of right and wrong, weigh personal qualities differently, and simply are partial to different historical figures. An existing statue cannot be removed just because some people decide that the historical figure is not worthy of being honored. This demonstrates a complete disregard for the people who admire the historical figure and love the statue. Adding more statues to increase diversity and to include under-represented groups enriches our world. Taking down statues – let alone viciously beheading them – only impoverishes it. 

bookmark_borderUFC President Dana White stands up for free speech

Dana White, the president of the UFC, is an example of how sports leagues ought to handle the issue of free speech on controversial topics.

In a press conference after a victory, fighter Colby Covington called the Black Lives Matter movement “a complete sham.” He continued, “It’s a joke. They’re taking these people that are complete terrorists. They’re taking these people that are criminals. These aren’t people that are hard-working Americans, blue-collar Americans. These are bad people. They’re criminals. They shouldn’t be attacking police. If you’re breaking the law and you’re threatening the cops with weapons, you deserve to get what you get. Law enforcement protects us all. If we don’t have law enforcement, it’d be the wild, wild West.” He also called a fellow fighter who supports BLM a communist, a Marxist, and someone who “hates America” and “stands for criminals.”

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Covington could perhaps have phrased things a bit more diplomatically, but I agree overall with his sentiments. Of course, given the political environment of 2020, fellow UFC fighters and sponsors promptly erupted in outrage, calling Covington and his comments “flat-out racist” and “disgusting.”

To his credit, White defended athletes’ freedom of speech. “These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs,” he said. “We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.”

More coaches, teams, and leagues should adopt similar attitudes. True diversity and inclusion require tolerance and acceptance of a wide range of political views. With athletes almost unanimously expressing support for the BLM movement, usually with the wholehearted endorsement of their teams and leagues, it is important to consider the rights of those with dissenting views. If athletes can speak out in favor of BLM, fairness requires that they also be free to speak out against BLM if that is how they feel. 

bookmark_borderThe linguistics of protests, riots, and BLM

As someone who is fascinated by words and ideas, I have long been pondering what is the best name for the protests that have been happening since the death of George Floyd and the ideology that motivates them. Participants in and supporters of the protests, of course, use terms such as Black Lives Matter (BLM for short), anti-racism, and racial justice to describe their movement. Detractors of the protesters sometimes call them the “woke mob” or use the term “cancel culture” because of the movement’s propensity to demand the cancellation or firing of any individuals, movies, shows, or books that do no conform to their ideology. Commentator Robby Soave coined the term “1793 Project” to describe the mentality, because that was the year the Committee of Public Safety took over the French Revolution and began inflicting terror on anyone who did not conform to their ideology. Some people characterize the ideology of the protests as left-wing, radical, Marxist, or even anarchist, and some go so far as to call the protesters domestic terrorists.

This topic has been on my mind as of late because the Associated Press recently tweeted about the appropriateness of various words for acts of protest and resistance. The AP’s twitter thread reads as follows:

“A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium. Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s. Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt. Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent. They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people. Revolt and uprising both suggest a broader political dimension or civil upheavals, a sustained period of protests or unrest against powerful groups or governing systems.”

The AP seems to be suggesting that the recent actions and events should generally be referred to as unrest or protests as opposed to riots. It is difficult to write about these events in a neutral way because in addition to the arguments both for and against the actions themselves, there is an almost equally heated debate about what the actions should be called. Proponents prefer the words “protest” and “protesters” because these words focus on the cause that the participants are advancing, while opponents prefer the words “riot” and “rioters” because these words focus on the destructive actions. The AP has declared itself firmly in the “protest” camp.

I also found it interesting that the AP mentioned the possibility of characterizing the recent events as a revolt or uprising. Some participants in the events have, on a similar note, characterized themselves as participants in a “revolution” or “resistance.” I disagree strongly with the use of such terms to characterize this movement. This is because, as the AP notes, revolts, uprisings, revolutions, and resistance are all directed against powerful groups or governing systems. In other words, they are actions taken by “underdogs” against the establishment or, to use a term popular among hippies in the 1960s, “the man.” The Black Lives Matter movement, in my opinion, is the opposite of this. Contrary to what is portrayed by members of this movement, I feel that the BLM movement is less about diversity and tolerance and more about enforcing conformity. It is less about standing up for the underdog and more about trampling on and bullying unpopular minorities. It is less about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable and more about comforting the already comfortable and further afflicting the afflicted.

As proof of this, one need look no further than the BLM movement’s attitude towards the Confederate States of America. The members of the Confederacy were rebels in the truest sense of the word. They carried out a revolution against a powerful federal government. Outnumbered and with fewer supplies and a less modern economy, they lost. The South was physically devastated, its economy destroyed, its leaders charged with treason, and its people forced to remain part of the Union, at first under military occupation before they were eventually allowed to enjoy the full rights of citizenship again. It is impossible to think of a better example of an underdog than the Confederacy. Yet in the year 2020, members of the BLM movement insult and denounce the Confederacy and every person associated with it, tear down, vandalize, beat, smash, burn, lynch, and urinate on its statues, demand that its flag be banned, and advocate that it be “erased” and every reminder of it obliterated from the earth. This is the very essence of “punching down” as opposed to “punching up.” The Confederate generals and soldiers who are the objects of the BLM movement’s hatred were revolutionaries; therefore the BLM movement cannot accurately be described as a revolution or uprising.

For similar reasons, I’m not in favor of characterizing this movement as “radical.” I also don’t particularly favor characterizing it as left-wing, Marxist, or anarchist. These are all distinct ideologies with philosophical principles that define them. Much of today’s activism does not seem to be motivated by any ideology, per se, but by more of an anti-ideology. Instead of focusing on specific philosophical principles, the recent actions too often focus on destruction for the sake of destruction. Nor do I think domestic terrorism is the right term, because as destructive and violent as terrorism is, it is motivated by principled devotion to an ideology. Additionally, any terms involving the word “mob” call to mind the mafia, and I don’t think it’s fair to the mafia to compare them to this movement.

What is the best term to describe this movement, then? I sometimes use the phrases “black supremacism” or “reverse racism” because of participants’ tendency to demonstrate negative attitudes towards white people merely by virtue of being white. But I’m not sure these are the best terms. Black supremacism seems a little harsh, and the idea of reverse racism is problematic because it presumes that racism against black people is the “default” type of racism. I often call participants in this movement bullies, but this word can apply to any mean, intolerant, or pushy person and is not specific enough to be a good name for a particular movement or ideology. An idea that I strongly associate with this movement is political correctness. Political correctness in itself is not a horrible thing; if someone wants to use politically correct language and ideas in their own speech and actions, they have the right to do that. What is striking about the recent activism is its desire to obliterate everything in the world that does not conform to the requirements of political correctness, in other words its complete intolerance and disregard for dissenting views. Political correctness reigns supreme and is prioritized above logic, philosophy, diversity, or kindness. Some terms that I feel come close to capturing this phenomenon are “aggressive political correctness,” “political correctness run amok,” or perhaps, “cult of political correctness.”

Regardless of what words are used, I will continue writing about the BLM movement, political correctness, and the associated protests and riots, most likely using a variety of different terms until I settle on a word or words that I like best.

bookmark_borderCyclist suspended for pro-Trump tweets

In the latest example of intolerance practiced in the name of tolerance by today’s politically correct society, cyclist Quinn Simmons was suspended for tweeting his support of Donald Trump. 

According to ESPN/Associated Press, the “controversial” tweets began when Dutch journalist Jose Been tweeted: “My dear American friends, I hope this horrible presidency ends for you. And for us as (former?) allies too. If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man.”

Simmons, the 2019 junior road race world champion, responded “Bye” with a dark-skinned hand emoji. 

When someone else tweeted, “Apparently a Trumper,” Simmons responded, “That’s right” with an American flag emoji. 

His team, Trek-Segafredo, said in a statement: “Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and supports a more diverse and equitable sport for all athletes. While we support the right to free speech, we will hold people accountable for their words and actions. Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport. He will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.”

They added in a separate statement that Simmons “was not suspended because of his political views. He was suspended for engaging in conversation on Twitter in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting a Trek athlete.”

And the team’s manager said that Simmons “has a bright future as a professional athlete if he can use this opportunity to grow as a person and make a positive contribution for a better future for cycling.”

According to Cycling Weekly, the organization Diversity in Cycling alleged that the use of the dark-skinned emoji was a form of “blackface” and pompously lectured him to “listen and learn.”

“To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way,” Simmons responded. “I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form. To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.”

In my opinion, this is a perfect example of much ado about nothing. Simmons expressed his support for Trump, something that he has every right to do. When one considers the wide range of opinions, thoughts, insults, and profanities that exist in the vast world of social media, Simmons’s tweets are really pretty innocuous. He did not attack or insult anyone, use profanity, or call anyone names. Interpreting the dark-skinned emoji as racist is a stretch and is certainly not an interpretation that would occur to me upon seeing this tweet. There wasn’t any need for Simmons to apologize, as he didn’t do anything wrong. By suspending him, his team went way overboard and veered into the realm of hypocrisy. Any organization that truly values inclusivity and diversity would embrace people with varied political beliefs. There was nothing incendiary or divisive about Simmons’s tweets, unless by divisive the team meant demonstrating ideological diversity, in which case being divisive is not a bad thing. There is no need for Simmons to “grow as a person” or “listen and learn,” as he has already demonstrated good character and courage by daring to voice unpopular views. It is the practitioners of political correctness run amok who need to listen and learn about what diversity truly means.