It has been a dark and demoralizing couple of years. The things that I value most – individual rights, liberty, history, tolerance, and diversity – have been under attack in various ways across the country and world. But there are a few signs of hope, indicating that possibly, just maybe, the tide might have begun to turn. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few things that I am thankful for:
The Christopher Columbus statue in Fairfield, NJ
The vicious campaign against Christopher Columbus over the past year and a half has been nothing short of sickening. At the hands of intolerant mobs of protesters and equally intolerant politicians, statues of the brave explorer have been torn down and in some cases violently destroyed, his name has been erased from schools and other places, and his holiday has been obliterated. However, defying this horrible trend, the town of Fairfield, New Jersey unveiled a brand new statue of Columbus on October 9, 2021. The statue, located outside the Hollywood Avenue Recreation Center, was commissioned by the Fairfield chapter of UNICO and was unveiled at a ceremony featuring pro-Columbus speeches by the mayor and other Italian-American leaders. Recent events have been so demoralizing that I believed another Columbus statue would never again be created, and that the only possible outcome was for the number of statues to inevitably decrease bit by bit until it reached zero. The brave decision to create a new statue of Columbus gives me hope.
The Italian American Alliance
As a resident of the Boston area, I have felt alone in my love of Christopher Columbus and my anger at how he has been treated. The vandalism of the Columbus statue in Boston, and the mayor’s subsequent decision to abolish Columbus Day, were particularly painful events that made me feel hated and unwelcome in a city that I had previously loved and felt proud to be from. I visited the statue’s former site several times and found it incomprehensible that people could continue to enjoy the park, play on the playground, and walk past the pathetic empty pedestal as if nothing was wrong. On Columbus Day, an organization called the Italian American Alliance organized a ceremony at the statue site, honoring Columbus and protesting against the destruction of his statue and holiday. Attending this ceremony truly provided a sense of healing, making me feel that I am not alone and allowing me to mourn and commemorate the statue that was unjustly taken away. (More of my thoughts and photos from the ceremony can be found in this Instagram post).
Youngkin’s defeat of Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial election was not just the victory of a Republican over a Democrat; it was to some extent a repudiation of the horrific and sickening things that have taken place in that state. Virginia, of course, used to be home to numerous magnificent statues honoring people who fought for the Confederacy, particularly in Richmond, where a collection of such statues lined Monument Avenue. These statues were brutally and cruelly torn down when politically correct bullies took over the city and state. Most people do not care about statues as much as I do, and statues were likely not the foremost thing on voters’ minds when casting their ballots, but the fact that the administration that carried out these atrocities was voted out of office provides a tiny bit of justice for the beautiful statues that were so viciously destroyed and the heroes that they represent.
Lee Rides Again
On the subject of Confederate statues that have been unjustly destroyed, perhaps the most high-profile of these was the magnificent monument of Genl Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. Thanks to the Democratic former governor, this statue was cut into three pieces and taken away (after spending over a year with its pedestal covered in profane and racist graffiti scrawled by BLM protesters). However, a group called the Gordonsville Grays, a division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, decided to take action in response to this horrible act of destruction. They announced that they are raising money to build a new Lee statue, the same size as the original, to be located on privately-owned but highly visible land. Although they have raised only a small fraction of the funds needed (so far!), the fact that a new Lee statue is in the works is truly something to be thankful for. Visit their website at LeeRidesAgain.com.
Judge Kurt Engelhardt
Judge Engelhardt, of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, is the author of the decision halting enforcement of the Biden administration’s totalitarian OSHA standard forcing businesses to force their employees to undergo medical procedures as a condition of employment. Although the vaccine mandate is only temporarily stayed, Judge Engelhardt’s ruling eloquently explained why the mandate deserves to be found unconstitutional. “The principles at stake when it comes to the Mandate are not reducible to dollars and cents,” he wrote. “The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials.” Amen to that.
Rittenhouse’s acquittal in the shooting deaths of two rioters during a BLM protest was a victory for Second Amendment rights and the right to self-defense. It was also a well-deserved and overdue defeat for the “woke,” politically correct mob. Supporters of the BLM movement, including the media establishment, the political establishment, big tech companies, and the President of the United States, falsely called Rittenhouse a white supremacist and a murderer. They demanded that he spend the rest of his life in prison for the “crime” of defending himself against a violent mob, and erupted in anger and outrage when that did not happen. Since May/June 2020, this movement has gotten essentially everything that it wanted. Its supporters have been allowed to do anything – no matter how bigoted, cruel, unjust, harmful, aggressive, or destructive – with no consequences. I am thankful that both Rittenhouse (only 17 at the time) and the jury in his trial had the courage to stand up to the politically correct bullies.
“Let’s go, Brandon”
Another thing to be thankful for is the fact that people all over the country and world are standing up to the Biden administration and its authoritarian policies. The “Let’s go Brandon” chant (and its not so G-rated counterpart) are the rallying cry of the anti-Biden movement and have been springing up everywhere, from college football games to protests and rallies to cornfields to announcements on airplanes. It brings a smile to my face every time I see a T-shirt, lawn sign, graffito, or flag with this slogan (all of which I have glimpsed with my own eyes even in the left-wing land of Massachusetts). It brings me hope that so many people, from all walks of life, are fighting back against authority and standing up for freedom.
Patriotic musicians and celebrities
For a long time, our society has refused to recognize the pain inflicted by “wokeness” and political correctness, leaving those who have been negatively impacted feeling completely alone. Sports leagues, teams, athletes, companies, brands, TV stations, radio stations, actors, musicians, and celebrities have pretty much ranged from endorsement of this movement’s destructive and intolerant actions at worst, to neutrality at best. Starting around the Fourth of July, however, I’ve noticed a small shift in attitude, with some mainstream celebrities actually expressing similar feelings to my own. As opposed to pretending that nothing is wrong in our country, some musicians have released songs expressing anger and disappointment at the horrible things that have happened: for example, Aaron Lewis’s “Am I The Only One,” Toby Keith’s “Happy Birthday America,” and Brantley Gilbert’s “Worst Country Song of All Time.” Additionally, celebrities ranging from Jason Aldean to Carrie Underwood to Nicki Minaj to Kyrie Irving to Cole Beasley have expressed, in various ways, opposition to the political establishment’s way of thinking.