bookmark_borderBullies protest against Confederate flag towel

I thought it was ridiculous when I heard that dozens of people in Minnesota decided to protest against a Confederate flag at their neighbor’s house. But then I saw a news article titled, “Protest calls out white silence after Confederate flag towel displayed on Evanston beach.” I did not think that such a thing was possible, but this towel protest reaches new levels of ridiculousness.

Reading the full story behind these events only makes this incident more appalling. The offending towel was first sighted on Wednesday at Lighthouse Beach in Evanston, Illinois, where a group of beachgoers had draped it over a fence. LaShandra Smith-Rayfield saw photos of the towel posted on social media and decided to drop what she was doing and drive to the beach to confront the towel owners in person. She posted a video of the confrontation on Facebook Live. In the video (since deleted) she reportedly told the towel owners, “I can’t feel comfortable in my own neighborhood. That flag right there is my swastika.” Then, a small group of protesters arrived at the beach and held Black Lives Matter signs until the towel owners left. Another small protest took place at the beach Thursday, followed by one on Friday which was attended by 300 people, including the mayor.

The Facebook event for that protest was titled, “No one is free until we are all free,” which is ironic because the protest seems to have been dedicated to taking away people’s freedom to go to the beach without being bullied and harassed.

Smith-Rayfield’s actions in instigating a confrontation with a group of beachgoers and then organizing a protest against them are utterly despicable. People have every right to possess and use any type of towel that they want. The group of people who hung the Confederate towel on the fence were doing absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever. Yet Smith-Rayfield chose to drop what she was doing and drive to the beach to verbally attack them. Then she and her supporters held not one, not two, but three protests against these people who were doing nothing wrong. In this time of relentless attacks on the Confederate States of America and its iconography, this is one of the most bigoted, intolerant, and aggressive instances of bullying I have heard of yet.

“Me speaking out against hatred does not make me anti-patriotic,” Smith-Rayfield told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It actually makes me patriotic… Every person on that beach walked past it. In my video, you can see people walk on past it. Why is it okay to walk on past it?”

This is one of the most preposterous questions I have ever heard. Not only is it okay to walk past a group of people minding their own business, it is an obligation. Unless, of course, one wants to compliment the towel or ask where the owners bought it, which would be totally justified because in my opinion, a Confederate flag towel is awesome. But when it comes to making negative or critical comments towards a person or people who are doing nothing wrong, that is morally impermissible because it is an act of aggression. For Smith-Rayfield to imply that bullying and harassing innocent people is not only acceptable but is morally required is preposterous. She is not “speaking out against hatred.” She is aggressing against innocent people.

Disgustingly, the mayor of Evanston, Steve Hagerty, praised Smith-Rayfield’s “courage and persistence.” But what Smith-Rayfield did was an act of cruelty, aggression, and bullying. This has nothing to do with courage or persistence, and it is disturbing that an elected official would praise such a thing.

Terri Turner, who attended one of the protests, said that she and her daughter were up till 2:30 a.m. “trying to process how heinous that was.” She was not referring to Smith-Rayfield’s decision to attack an innocent group of beachgoers; she was referring to the Confederate flag towel itself. This reaction is bizarre and incomprehensible. There is nothing “heinous” about a Confederate flag towel. It is a towel demonstrating pride in Southern heritage. Smith-Rayfield’s actions in instigating an argument with innocent people, as well as Turner’s own decision to attend a protest condemning these same people, are what is truly heinous.

People have a right to go to the beach and display any type of flag or towel they want without being insulted, yelled at, or harassed. If you think that disliking someone’s towel gives you the right to go up to them, berate them, and organize protests against them, you are not only 100% wrong but you are also a mean, nasty, intolerant bully.

One bright light in this dismaying series of events is that while Smith-Rayfield was verbally attacking the group of innocent beachgoers, an African-American veteran decided to intervene. According to a series of tweets describing the encounter, this man told Smith-Rayfield that “she’s the one causing the problem,” that the towel owners were “minding their business,” and that he “fought for their right to display that flag.” He is 100% right. Interviewed later by the Chicago Sun-Times, this brave veteran said that he personally believes the Confederate flag is wrong but also believes that people have the right to disagree and that he served in the military to protect that right. This guy showed true courage, tolerance, and empathy. If only more people behaved this way towards those with whom they disagree.

bookmark_borderBullies protest against Confederate flag at neighbor’s house

In Cold Spring, Minnesota, bullies are protesting against a homeowner’s decision to fly a Confederate flag.

The leader of the bullies, 20-year-old college student Jayda Woods, said of her neighbor’s flag: “To me, it just looks like a big thing that says ‘I hate you’ on it. ‘Stay away’ kind of thing, and just, ‘You’re not welcomed here.'”

“We’re not going to just stand by and have this flying in our neighborhood, right next to all of these kids, right next to the school where everyone’s driving by,” she added. “That’s just something I don’t want to live with for our town.”

Woods organized two protests, which involved dozens of people gathering with signs outside the offending house. She and her supporters have also written what she describes as “positive messages” in chalk on the sidewalk. These messages include “Black Lives Matter” and “Real Americans don’t fly traitor flags.”

To organize protests against a flag that a private citizen is flying on his/her own property displays a complete lack of tolerance and a complete lack of respect for the rights of one’s fellow citizens. First of all, Woods’s perceptions that the Confederate flag means “I hate you” and “stay away” are baseless. People fly Confederate flags for a variety of reasons, including pride in their Southern heritage or a belief in states’ rights or resistance to tyranny. Additionally, having negative feelings towards something (even if these feelings are valid and understandable, which is not the case in this situation) does not give a person the right to demand its removal, especially if it is located on another person’s private property. People do not have a right to never see anything they dislike while walking, driving, or jogging around town.

The homeowner who is flying the flag is doing absolutely nothing wrong. These attempts to pressure and browbeat this homeowner into stopping something that he/she has every right to do are acts of aggression and bullying. Woods says that she is not going to stand by and allow the flag to exist in her town. But that is exactly what she is obligated to do. What individuals do on their own property is none of her business; she and her supporters do not have the right to decide what other people in their town and neighborhood are and are not allowed to do.

Not to mention the fact that the Confederate flag is not a “traitor flag,” and calling it that is the exact opposite of a positive message.

“It is his First Amendment right, freedom of speech,” said Woods. “But what I would just like is at least a letter from the city of Cold Spring or from ROCORI High School, just asking him to take it down.”

This is contradictory. Woods is essentially admitting that the homeowner has a right to fly the flag while simultaneously asking the government to make him get rid of it!

To their credit, the city council responded to this request with the following statement: “The City of Cold Spring does not condone racial discrimination or the display of racist icons. The city strives to be a welcoming community for all persons regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender identification, age, ability, place of origin, citizenship status and veteran status. All citizens have the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution. The right is fundamental to our democracy and protects us all against tyranny. For that reason, the city can make no laws that abridge any citizen’s right to freedom of speech regardless of how offensive the speech may be.”

Woods has even started a petition to ban display of the Confederate flag, in which she calls the flag “highly intolerable, especially flying next to a school where ALL students and staff should feel welcomed and safe. It is extremely important to me that ALL students and all people who enter the ROCORI community are treated with respect.”

But her attempts to force the removal of the Confederate flag are, ironically, disrespectful and intolerant towards those with different views from her. Do people who are proud of their Southern heritage not also deserve to feel welcomed and safe? Do people who see the Confederate flag as a positive symbol of rebelliousness and freedom not also deserve to be treated with respect? Anyone who truly believes in the values of diversity, inclusion, and tolerance would accept and celebrate the right of each person to fly the flag of their choice.

bookmark_borderDemocratic senators demand flag discrimination

A group of 34 Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen are demanding that Defense Secretary Mark Esper explicitly ban the Confederate flag while allowing other flags, such as the Pride flag and Native Nation flags. Earlier this month, in response to intolerant bullies’ demands, Esper issued a policy banning the Confederate flag from being displayed on property controlled by the Department of Defense, including ships, aircraft, office buildings, porches of military housing, and common areas of barracks. But instead of singling out that flag, the language of the policy simply lists which flags are allowed, a category that includes state flags, the POW/MIA flag, military flags, and the flags of allied countries, effectively banning all other flags. Left off the list were not only the Confederate flag but also the Pride flag, Native Nation flags, the Jolly Roger, and sports teams’ flags.

“While we applaud the department for taking steps to remove the Confederate battle flag from our military bases, the action unnecessarily avoids a clear rebuke of this oppressive symbol while simultaneously limiting how service members can freely express themselves in line with our values,” the Representatives wrote. “We ask that you immediately revise the new policy on flag display, explicitly ban the Confederate battle flag, and ensure that service members can express support for diversity and inclusion through the display of sovereign Native Nations and LGBTQ Pride flags… The department must have the strength and courage to be able to simultaneously stand against a symbol of hate and oppression in the Confederate battle flag while allowing the display of support for civil rights, equity and justice. We do not honor or display the Parteiflagge of Nazi Germany on our military bases, and any decision on the Confederate battle flag must likewise be unequivocal: it must be banned outright.”

Contrary to what is claimed in the letter, the Confederate flag is not a symbol of hate or oppression. It is simply a symbol of the Confederate States of America. Some people fly it as an expression of Southern heritage and some people fly it as a symbol of individuality, freedom, and resistance to government authority. There’s nothing hateful or oppressive about that.

Ironically, banning the Confederate flag is hateful and oppressive. The letter expresses support for diversity and inclusion, but banning one flag while allowing others is the exact opposite of diversity and inclusion. It is particularly disturbing that the Representatives want soldiers to be able to “freely express themselves in line with our values.” The letter appears to be stating that soldiers should only be able to express themselves if their values are the same as those of the letter’s authors. That is not freedom of expression. True freedom of expression means having the right to express one’s views regardless of whether those who hold political power approve of them. Truly supporting diversity and inclusion means not only embracing differences in sexual orientation, gender identity, and race; it also means embracing differences in culture as well as in ideology. We cannot have an inclusive society when Native Americans are able to honor their heritage with flags while Southerners are not. We cannot have diversity without the Confederate flag.

These Democratic Representatives are demanding that only flags that are in line with their values should be allowed. This is the epitome of intolerance and bigotry, and to use the language of diversity and inclusion in the service of such a non-inclusive cause is a perversion of these words. To unequivocally condemn the flag of a small, agricultural nation that existed for four years in the 19th century and happens to be frowned upon by today’s political establishment, as the letter demands of Secretary Esper, is the exact opposite of “strength and courage.” It is bullying.

I believe that soldiers should be able to display any flag that they want, including the U.S. flag, the Confederate flag, the Gadsden flag, the flag of any nation, state, or city, the Pride flag, the pirate flag, or the flag of any sports team. But if the Confederate flag is going to be banned, it is only fair to ban flags favored by those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum as well. Let’s hope that Esper displays true strength and courage by standing up to the Democrats’ intolerant demands.

bookmark_borderCancelling student loans is unfair and unjust

As the country considers various options for helping the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, several lawmakers are pushing for forgiveness of student loans.

For example, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar introduced a bill in March to cancel up to $30,000 in student debt per person. Senate Democrats have pushed unsuccessfully for student debt forgiveness to be included in both the CARES Act and the HEROES Act. The group Student Debt Crisis has gathered 1.2 million signatures in support of urging Congress to forgive student loans. Bernie Sanders promised to eliminate all student debt during his presidential campaign, and Joe Biden is proposing forgiving student debt for low-income people, teachers, public service workers, and graduates of public and historically black schools.

Student debt forgiveness is now being viewed as a racial justice issue as well. “Black student borrowers borrow and default more than anyone else because of our inability to build generational wealth,” Pressley said to Yahoo Finance.

Pressley also tweeted, “Cancel rent. Cancel mortgage. Cancel student debt.”

Cancelling debt is fundamentally unfair. There are some people who make tremendous sacrifices to pay for college so that they won’t have to take out loans. Some people work throughout their time in college in order to pay tuition. Some people go without in order to save up for college, and some parents start saving for college when their child is born. Have any of the proponents of student loan forgiveness ever considered how those who saved up for college would feel upon learning that all of their sacrifices were for nothing? That they could have spent their money on other things and gotten a college education for free if they had only waited? Forgiving student loans is essentially making college free… but only for people who borrowed money. People who already paid would be stuck having already paid. A plan to cancel student loans would only be fair if anyone who paid for college got his or her money back as well.

But one also needs to consider that cancelling student loans is unfair to people who chose not to go to college, or chose to go to a less expensive college, because of the cost. Imagine having made the decision years ago to forgo college, or to go to a less prestigious college, only to learn that you could actually have gone to an expensive, prestigious college for free. Additionally, forgiving student loans is arguably unfair to people who earned merit scholarships. Imagine getting to attend college for free (or at a substantial discount) as a reward for your intelligence, talent, and academic achievements, only to find out that people without the same achievements also get to attend college for free, simply because they chose to borrow money.

Forgiving debt is unfair and unjust because it provides a benefit to some people while denying that benefit to other people who are equally deserving.

bookmark_borderMelrose mayor apologizes for “All Lives” sign

In the town of Melrose, Massachusetts, the mayor and police chief have apologized for the fact that a traffic sign reading “THE SAFETY OF ALL LIVES MATTER” was displayed on a public street.

“I have ordered that it be taken down immediately and am taking steps to find out how this happened,” said Mayor Paul Brodeur in a Facebook post. “I apologize to the residents of Melrose.”

Police Chief Michael Lyle issued a statement calling the wording of the sign “unfortunate and improper” and calling the phrase “all lives matter” a “misguided counter to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The statement also explained: “Preliminarily, the officer reported to me that he did not post the message with either malicious or political intent. The officer, by his account, was trying to type a traffic safety message in the limited space offered by the electronic sign and did not realize the totality or impact of the words he had posted. Nonetheless, I will conduct a full and thorough investigation. On behalf of the Melrose Police Department, I sincerely apologize to our residents and anyone who drove past the sign today.”

What on earth is there to apologize for? There is nothing unfortunate, improper, or misguided about the idea that all lives matter. The message displayed on the sign – that the safety of all lives matters – is 100% true and should not even be controversial. Do the mayor and the police chief disagree with this message? Do they believe that some lives do not matter? The fact that such an innocuous message necessitated an investigation and apologies from both the mayor and the police chief demonstrates the ridiculousness of today’s political climate.

bookmark_borderHate crime charges for painting over Black Lives Matter mural

A California couple have been charged with a hate crime after painting over a Black Lives Matter mural that had been painted on the street. Nicole Anderson and David Nelson could face up to a year in jail.

The police department in Martinez, CA, said in a statement: “The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner.”

When one considers the brutal series of assaults against statues that have taken place over the past weeks and months, which have largely gone unpunished, it is ridiculous that Anderson and Nelson are being punished this severely.

First of all, the motivation for painting over the mural does not rise to the level of a hate crime. In a video of the incident, Nelson allegedly said, “There is no racism. It’s a leftist lie… We’re sick of this narrative, that’s what’s wrong. The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie.” Neither he nor Anderson ever voiced any racist sentiments. Neither of them made any negative generalizations about anyone based on their race. They simply think that racism does not exist to the extent that the Black Lives Matter movement claims it does, which is a very reasonable opinion that I happen to agree with. Disagreeing with the message of the Black Lives Matter movement should not be considered a hate crime.

Additionally, I would not describe painting over the mural as either hateful or senseless, as the police department does. Disagreeing with a message is not hateful; it is simply disagreement. Nor was painting over the mural senseless; Nelson clearly explains the reasoning behind this action in the video.

You know what is both hateful and senseless? The wave of violence against statues that has swept over the country. It was hateful and senseless when someone beheaded the beautiful statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston. It was hateful and senseless when someone tore down the statue of St. Junipero Serra in San Francisco, California, set it on fire, and struck it with a sledgehammer. It was hateful and senseless when someone tore down and hanged a statue of a Confederate soldier in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was hateful and senseless when a mob tore down, urinated on, and sprayed graffiti on a statue of Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham in Richmond, Virginia. It is hateful and senseless that the magnificent Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond continues to be graffiti’d with Black Lives Matter slogans every day. I could go on and on; the list of statues that have recently been dismembered, set on fire, destroyed, and/or defaced is nearly endless.

Think of the immense amounts of time, effort, dedication, and talent that sculptors put into these statues. Yet none of the people responsible for any of these acts of vandalism have been arrested, charged, fined, or punished in any way. These barbarians all need to be held accountable for their disgraceful actions before anyone even thinks about punishing someone for painting over a Black Lives Matter mural on the street.

bookmark_borderStone Mountain is next target for anti-Confederate bigots

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting Stone Mountain. If you have never heard of Stone Mountain (in which case you are really missing out!), it is a mountain in Georgia featuring a huge carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. According to Stone Mountain’s official website, the Confederate Memorial Carving measures 90 by 190 feet, is recessed 42 feet into the mountain, and is 400 feet above the ground, making it the largest high relief sculpture in the world. The idea for the carving originated with Helen Plane of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Construction began in 1923 but ran into funding problems and disagreements between artists, organizers, and the land owners. In 1958, the mountain and surrounding land were purchased by the state of Georgia. Walter Kirkland Hancock was chosen as the new sculptor, and work resumed on the stone carving in 1964. Using thermo-jet torches, workers labored to complete the likenesses of the three Confederate leaders and their horses. A dedication ceremony was held in 1970, and finishing touches were completed in 1972.

It is a truly amazing work of art, and seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.

So, naturally, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are demanding that it be destroyed.

On June 16, the local branch of the NAACP organized a protest against the Memorial Carving. The president of the NAACP branch, Teresa Hardy, said: “We’re going to Stone Mountain where all of the white supremacy, racial bigotry, all of that is hidden in that mountain, so why not march there to let them know we’re not going to take it anymore.”

More recently, this past weekend, a large group of armed militia marched through Stone Mountain Park demanding the removal of the carving.

First of all, depictions of Confederate leaders are not the same thing as white supremacy or racial bigotry. But more importantly, what does Hardy mean by “we’re not going to take it anymore?” What, exactly, is her organization not going to take? The existence of a magnificent, amazing work of art? The fact that people who cherish the Confederacy have a beautiful memorial to visit? The fact that the brave heroes who fought for the Confederacy get to be remembered and honored by those who admire them? This choice of words implies that Stone Mountain’s existence causes pain or suffering somehow. But this is simply false. For anyone who has a soul, Stone Mountain and its Memorial Carving bring tremendous joy and awe, just as all beautiful works of art do. The carving’s existence inherently makes the world a better place. How a person could dislike Stone Mountain is incomprehensible to me. But if this is the case for you, then simply don’t go there! Problem solved.

What makes supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement think that they have the right to order the destruction of anything in the world that they do not like? They are not the only people in the world; other people’s wishes and preferences matter, too. Has anyone considered the feelings of people who love Stone Mountain and would be deprived of a unique and wonderful place to enjoy nature and history? Has anyone considered the decades of painstaking work that artists, designers, carvers, and other craftsmen put into this work of art? Has anyone considered the feelings of people who admire the Confederacy and would be deprived of this beautiful and moving memorial? Has anyone considered the thousands of people who died fighting for the South’s independence, and the possibility that they deserve to be remembered and honored?

It’s almost as if this movement is determined to obliterate every beautiful, magnificent, glorious, unique, different, interesting, cool, and good thing from the world. It’s as if they are striving to create as bland, homogeneous, mundane, and conformist a society as possible, a place where all cities and towns are the same and all people are alike. In short, they seem to be determined to make the world as bad a place as they possibly can. I can think of no other reason why someone would want Stone Mountain’s carving to be destroyed. There are no words in the English language that can fully capture how strongly opposed I am to this idea.

Fortunately, Georgia law protects the Memorial Carving, meaning that the law would need to be changed in order for it to be destroyed. Hopefully this never, ever happens, because the world would be immeasurably worse for it.

The author at Stone Mountain

bookmark_borderTrump orders creation of National Garden of American Heroes

President Trump continues to fight back in the war on statues. Yesterday he signed an executive order creating a task force for building and rebuilding monuments and ordering the creation of a statuary park called the National Garden of American Heroes.

The executive order reads as follows:

America owes its present greatness to its past sacrifices. Because the past is always at risk of being forgotten, monuments will always be needed to honor those who came before. Since the time of our founding, Americans have raised monuments to our greatest citizens… In our public parks and plazas, we have erected statues of great Americans who, through acts of wisdom and daring, built and preserved for us a republic of ordered liberty.

These statues are silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal. They preserve the memory of our American story and stir in us a spirit of responsibility for the chapters yet unwritten. These works of art call forth gratitude for the accomplishments and sacrifices of our exceptional fellow citizens who, despite their flaws, placed their virtues, their talents, and their lives in the service of our Nation. These monuments express our noblest ideals: respect for our ancestors, love of freedom, and striving for a more perfect union. They are works of beauty, created as enduring tributes. In preserving them, we show reverence for our past, we dignify our present, and we inspire those who are to come. To build a monument is to ratify our shared national project.

To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance. In recent weeks, in the midst of protests across America, many monuments have been vandalized or destroyed. Some local governments have responded by taking their monuments down. Among others, monuments to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, leaders of the abolitionist movement, the first all-volunteer African-American regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War, and American soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars have been vandalized, destroyed, or removed.

These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn. My Administration will not abide an assault on our collective national memory. In the face of such acts of destruction, it is our responsibility as Americans to stand strong against this violence, and to peacefully transmit our great national story to future generations through newly commissioned monuments to American heroes.

It is not yet clear where the National Garden of American Heroes will be located or when it will open, although Trump’s goal is to have it opened before July 4, 2026. Funding and administrative support for the garden will be provided by the Department of the Interior. The garden will enable the public to enjoy nature, walk among the statues, and learn about history. Trump specifies in his order that the statues should be realistic, as opposed to abstract.

Trump provides the following list of specific people to be included in the garden: “John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Audie Murphy, George S. Patton, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Antonin Scalia, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.”

He also provides the following list of more general categories of people who should be considered for inclusion: “the Founding Fathers, those who fought for the abolition of slavery or participated in the underground railroad, heroes of the United States Armed Forces, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor or Presidential Medal of Freedom, scientists and inventors, entrepreneurs, civil rights leaders, missionaries and religious leaders, pioneers and explorers, police officers and firefighters killed or injured in the line of duty, labor leaders, advocates for the poor and disadvantaged, opponents of national socialism or international socialism, former Presidents of the United States and other elected officials, judges and justices, astronauts, authors, intellectuals, artists, and teachers.”

And importantly, he points out: “None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying.” Amen to that.

In addition to the garden, this executive order also directs funding towards the commissioning of new statues to be installed in cities and towns where statues of historically significant Americans have recently been removed or destroyed.

My only criticism is that no Confederate historical figures are included in the list. Hopefully a few of them will make it into the garden as well. Interestingly, the executive order mentions the possibility that the task force might “encourage and accept the donation or loan of statues by States, localities, civic organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and individuals.” Does this mean that statues that cities and towns have decided to remove might find a new home in the garden? I hope so, because it is a shame for beautiful, magnificent statues to languish in storage instead of being on display where the public can appreciate them.

bookmark_border“A sad day for America” as mob cheers removal of Confederate statues

For anyone who truly loves art and history, the events that took place this week in Richmond, Virginia have been dismaying and demoralizing. Mayor Levar Stoney used his emergency powers to order the immediate removal of the city’s Confederate statues. Work crews promptly removed a statue of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on Wednesday. Then on Thursday morning, they removed a statue of Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury. There are a total of 11 magnificent statues that the mayor has ordered to be taken down.

Local news station 8News captured a heart-wrenching scene in which a lone individual ran to the Stonewall Jackson statue and stood in front of it, begging the work crews to let it stay. Nearby individuals swarmed around him, and officers led him away. Disgustingly, over the course of the day, thousands of people gathered to chant and cheer as the statue was taken down.

One member of this mob, Mac McLeob, said: “I’m just so proud. Proud that the city of Richmond, which was once the Capital of the Confederacy is now the Capital of Equality and people can be proud to be from this area.”

Another mob member, Jasmine Howell, said that she “literally had chills just watching it.”

Another, Janice Scagnelli, called the removal of the Maury statue “amazing.”

Senator Tim Kaine expressed similar sentiments, tweeting: “I am proud that my hometown is removing these painful symbols. No need to honor those who tried to destroy the USA so they could perpetuate slavery.”

As for the mayor himself, he said at a press conference: “Once we remove the remaining monuments, we can officially say that we were the former capital of the Confederacy.” Earlier in the day, at a city council meeting, he said: “It is time to fully embrace the righteous cause. Time to get rid of racist symbols. Frankly, it’s time to heal.”

Nothing could be further from the truth than these sentiments. I can think of no cause less righteous than the removal of Confederate statues. I can think of nothing less healing and nothing less worthy of pride.

The Confederacy fought against the United States government for the right to form their own country. They were rebels who fought against government overreach and tyranny. This is something that every person should admire and celebrate. Individuals who fought for the Confederacy absolutely deserve to be honored. The anger and hatred that people today demonstrate towards the Confederacy are particularly objectionable because the Confederacy was and is the ultimate underdog. To many people, it is not enough that this small, agricultural country was beaten into submission by the more industrialized and populous United States, its cities burned, its population decimated, and its rights taken away. Apparently, it is also necessary to ban its flag, desecrate the graves of its soldiers, destroy its statues and monuments, and completely obliterate its memory. In today’s United States, displays of admiration for the Union – whether in the form of statues, memorials, flags, or depictions in popular culture – are far more common and accepted in our society than those for the Confederacy. But apparently, when it comes to studying and memorializing the Civil War, even the tiniest amount of diversity cannot be tolerated. This is why those who call for banning the Confederate flag, re-naming things that are named for Confederate leaders, and tearing down Confederate statues, are the true bigots and bullies. Ironically, the Black Lives Matter movement, which claims to be motivated by concerns about diversity and inclusion, is in reality stamping out every last iota of diversity and inclusiveness in America.

In the same press conference at which he announced the removal of the statues, the mayor announced plans for a new school, saying: “This is the sort of monuments moving forward that we want to erect to our children here in the city of Richmond. This is a testament to what we can do when we all work together. Although you all know that we are removing monuments that, I think, exemplify hate, division and oppression, we’re going to build these monuments to opportunity right here. That’s our commitment.”

The mayor also promised to replace the Confederate monuments with “symbols that represent our city.”

These comments completely miss the point. Schools are not a replacement for Confederate statues. Statues are beautiful, amazing, glorious, and magnificent, particularly Confederate statues because of the values of rebelliousness and freedom that they represent. The sight of a statue of a brave leader or warrior from history stirs and inspires the soul. Schools are important, but there is nothing glorious, magnificent, or soul-stirring about them. They are simply a part of a city’s infrastructure. Every city has them. They do nothing to make a city unique or distinctive.

What symbols does the mayor plan to replace the Confederate statues with? No statue, monument, or symbol could be as good, or as fitting for the city of Richmond, as the beautiful Confederate statues that the mayor so cruelly ordered taken down. Being the capital of the Confederacy is part of what makes Richmond unique. The statues on Monument Avenue are essential to the city’s identity, and without them, Richmond is a city that stands for nothing and has no values, no culture, and no heritage. How could anyone think that a city without Confederate statues is better than a city with them?

Andrew Morehead, a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, called this “a sad day for America.” He also said that his organization is reluctant to publicly protest against the removal of statues because of concerns that the protests could devolve into violence.

If I was asked to comment on this issue, I would not be so restrained. I believe that the removal of any Confederate statue, or any act of violence or vandalism against such a statue, is despicable, and I condemn it in the harshest possible terms. Thanks to the mayor’s order, Richmond has gone from a city filled with beautiful, glorious, and magnificent statues of brave individuals who fought for freedom to… nothing. It is incomprehensible that someone could be happy about this or consider it something to be proud of. Each and every person who cheered as these statues were removed is a bigot and a bully with no soul.

It also says a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement that organizations with dissenting views do not feel physically safe to voice those views publicly.

If Confederate statues do not represent the values of the people of Richmond anymore, then that is a poor reflection on the people of Richmond. It is difficult to think of any positives in this situation, but one tiny positive is that because so many people in Richmond have proven themselves to be intolerant bullies, then the people of Richmond were not worthy of having these magnificent statues. My hope is that the statues can be displayed on private land somewhere where the few people remaining on Earth who still have souls can give them the admiration they deserve.

bookmark_borderMark and Patricia McCloskey have every right to defend themselves

In a now viral video, a husband and wife in St. Louis, Missouri named Mark and Patricia McCloskey decided to defend themselves and their home against a large group of Black Lives Matter protesters. The mob of protesters broke through a gate and marched down the private street where the McCloskeys’ home is located. In response, Mark and Patricia pointed guns at the mob from their porch.

Mark McCloskey defended his and Patricia’s actions in an interview with KMOV-TV:

“It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through. I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed. A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear for our lives. One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said, ‘You’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night.”

The McCloskeys’ attorney added that they are both personal injury lawyers who represent victims of police brutality, and they actually support the message of BLM.

Despite the fact that this looks like a clear case of self-defense, numerous people have alleged that the McCloskeys’ conduct constitutes “assault” and have demanded that they be punished.

For example, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner announced that her office would be investigating. She said: “I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault. We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

Attorney Don Calloway tweeted that Mark McCloskey “committed an assault” and “should be arrested and charged with assault immediately.” And Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that “their actions should have consequences.”

Attorney Eric Banks told St. Louis Public Radio: “You cannot act with impunity, come out of your house with an automatic weapon, and point it in the direction of the people coming down the street. It’s just beyond the pale.”

Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View, said: “If there’s a peaceful protest and you feel threatened, I don’t know why you decide to go outside of your home and brandish a weapon. Don’t you stay inside of your home and call the police? So it just seems to me that there is quite a disconnect there, because what they did was very aggressive. There wasn’t a need to brandish a weapon in a threatening way.”

There is a petition titled, “Have the McCloskeys disbarred for Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.” The organizer of the petition writes that the McCloskeys “need to be held accountable.”

According to St. Louis Public Radio, the Missouri Bar Association has, indeed, received dozens of calls demanding that the McCloskeys’ law licenses be revoked, and cyberbullies have left thousands of negative reviews on their law firm’s Facebook page.

This is ridiculous. First of all, the McCloskeys did not commit assault. Anyone with even a basic understanding of logic would agree that in order for an action to constitute assault, something needs to actually touch the person allegedly being assaulted. The McCloskeys did not fire their guns. They did not go over to the protesters and hit anyone over the head with the guns. Neither Mark nor Patricia nor either of the guns nor any bullets made any physical contact with any of the protesters. Therefore, no assault took place.

Second, the protesters were in the wrong because they trespassed on private property. Anyone who trespasses on private property is automatically the aggressor and bears 100% of the responsibility for any confrontation or conflict that takes place as a result. In an article arguing that the McCloskeys are “screwed, and rightfully so,” Jim Swift at the The Bulwark writes: “Members of that community are not empowered to enforce trespass laws by pointing guns at unarmed people. This is why you call the police… Crimes committed on private property are not exempted from legal scrutiny.” But the McCloskeys did call police. Additionally, contrary to Swift’s claim, people do have the right to enforce trespass laws by pointing guns at unarmed people. The fact that the trespassers are unarmed is irrelevant. The only relevant fact is that they trespassed on someone else’s property. Therefore, they deserved to have guns pointed at them. Anyone who trespasses on someone else’s property deserves whatever treatment the property owner deems necessary to defend his or her property. The fact that the protesters trespassed makes the McCloskeys’ actions not a crime.

Finally, those demanding the McCloskeys’ arrest point out that under Missouri law, it constitutes “unlawful use of weapons” to “exhibit, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.” But the mob of protesters were clearly acting in a more threatening way than either Mark or Patricia McCloskey. According to Mark, nearly 100 angry protesters broke through a gate, and one pulled out pistol magazines and said “you’re next.” Even if you don’t believe his version of events, the number of protesters and the mere fact that they were trespassing on private property should be enough to consider the McCloskeys innocent of any criminal offense. Whenever you have a conflict with two people on one side and hundreds of people on the other side, the two people are almost always in the right. How could a crowd of protesters be intimidated or threatened by two individuals? Hundreds of people are inherently more intimidating and threatening than two people, regardless of who is armed and who isn’t.

In conclusion, the McCloskeys did not commit assault or unlawful use of weapons. They did not intimidate anyone and they were not aggressive; they defended themselves against an intimidating mob. They should not be arrested or disbarred. They do not “need to be held accountable” because they did nothing wrong. The only consequences that their actions should have are positive ones… such as this salute from yours truly. Thank you, Mark and Patricia, for standing up to the mob and providing a good example of self-defense for all Americans.