In Arizona, there is hope that some semblance of justice may finally be meted out for those who have brutally destroyed statues. State Rep. John Kavanagh introduced a bill that would make it a felony – punishable in some cases by more than 3 years in prison – to damage any statue or monument.
“A statue to somebody, a gravestone of a relative, a statue to an event, is an edifice that either one person or for most of these now an entire community put up,” said Kavanagh. “It’s a statement by the community… and that is what is being desecrated.”
In Arizona, a Confederate memorial at the state capitol building was tragically removed, as was a statue of Jefferson Davis near the Jefferson Davis Highway.
The AP article on this topic characterizes the statue destroyers as “civil rights protesters,” a characterization with which I strongly disagree. By physically destroying irreplaceable works of art that memorialize people from history, these protesters are not standing up for rights but trampling on the rights of not only the people who love the statues, but also the people whom the statues represent.
Naturally, these “civil rights protesters” and their ideological allies have expressed opposition to the bill that would represent a small step towards justice. “Instead of targeting the community who want these statues gone, who have watched their ancestors’ perpetrators be admired for centuries, let’s work with them and create an America we all can celebrate,” said Shelby Young of the Arizona Coalition for Change.
But an America without Confederate statues is not an America that I could ever celebrate. History is my passion, and the Confederacy is a crucial part of that. What I love about history is its diversity. I love to learn about and celebrate people from a wide range of time periods, nationalities, and cultures, with varied ideologies, personalities, and viewpoints. Honoring only one side in a war is not diversity. An America without Confederate statues is an America stripped of its diversity, beauty, and character, a soulless expanse of land with a mindless, conformist populace and no national identity. Watching America turn into such a place breaks my heart, makes my blood boil, and makes me feel sick each and every day. That anyone would consider this an America worthy of celebrating is incomprehensible. To consider this an America that everyone can celebrate is not only incomprehensible but utterly lacking in empathy.
The destruction of Confederate statues is the destruction of what makes life worth living. Those who destroy statues are trampling on the rights of people who feel differently than they do. These intolerant bullies do not deserve cooperation; they deserve punishment. They deserve to be targeted, because their actions are despicable.
“A lot of these monuments are ones that have a very bad history and those are the only ones that are being targeted right now,” said Sen. Martin Quezada. “What this does is it further criminalizes the efforts of a community to make a better statement, a counterstatement, to say that we no longer celebrate those types of values. We no longer celebrate slavery, we no longer celebrate veterans of Confederate history. We have multiple monuments in the state of Arizona that do continue to celebrate that, and my preference is that we all join together to tear those things down.”
These comments completely miss the point. What constitutes a “very bad history” is a matter of opinion, as it what constitutes a “better” statement. The claim that “we no longer celebrate those types of values” is bigoted and intolerant. Different people have different values, and that is exactly the way it should be. There is no requirement that everyone celebrate the same values, and the world would be a far worse place if there was such a requirement. To some people, Confederate monuments are a good thing, and the actions of the BLM movement are a step in the wrong direction. Those who destroy Confederate statues are attempting to impose their own values on everyone. They are attempting to eradicate from the earth anything that represents any set of values other than their own. This is bigotry, this is intolerance, this is bullying, and this is trampling on the underdog. These actions demonstrate a complete disregard for the rights of minorities. These efforts deserve to be further criminalized, because they are despicable.
As for Quezada’s preference that we “all join together to tear those things down”… forgive me if I don’t care one iota what his preference is. Quezada’s preference is that the world be stripped of everything that makes life worth living and that people who love Confederate history be sentenced to a lifetime of heartbreak and agony. And then, adding insult to injury, he has the gall to express his hope that we join together with him to make this happen. Obviously, Quezada does not care a whit about my preferences, so why should I care about his? Call me crazy, but I prefer a world that actually contains goodness, beauty, and diversity, a world in which life is worth living. That’s why I strongly support this bill and pray that it becomes law.