bookmark_border59 Confederate symbols removed since George Floyd’s death

According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, 59 Confederate symbols have been removed across the country since George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. This includes 38 monuments that have been removed entirely, 5 monuments that have been relocated, 9 schools that have been renamed, 5 parks/trails/roads/water bodies that have been renamed, the fact that the Confederate flag was removed from the Mississippi state flag, and the fact that the Confederate flag was removed from a police uniform in South Dakota. This total accounts for nearly half of the Confederate symbols removed since the Charleston church shooting in 2015, meaning that the pace of removals over the past 3 months has drastically accelerated.

Contrary to the opinions of the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is a tragedy. The removal of Confederate monuments, names, flags, and other symbols is not only the removal of an important part of America’s history; it is also the removal of values and ideals that are a crucial part of our nation’s identity.

The Confederacy is not synonymous with racism, or with slavery. The Confederacy was a collection of states that attempted to form their own country, a collection of people who fought for their independence. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned and having a less industrialized economy, the Confederacy stood up to the federal government. Therefore, the Confederacy stands for freedom, defiance, rebelliousness, and resistance to authority. These are all positive qualities that are central to what it means to be an American; after all, our country came into existence as a rebellion against unjust taxation. To obliterate Confederate iconography is to erase not only Southern heritage but the very values upon which America was founded.

Each Confederate statue, just like any other statue, stands for a human being from history, with both good and bad attributes. The fact that the individuals honored by these statues fought for the Confederacy does not make them bad, any more than a statue of someone who fought for the Union is inherently bad. No person is perfect and no country is perfect. Yes, the Confederacy had slavery, which nearly everyone today would consider a negative attribute. But the Union and its leaders invaded the Confederate states, carved a swath of complete destruction across the South, instituted the draft, made it illegal to criticize the government, and suspended the writ of habeas corpus, meaning that anyone could be jailed for any reason. And they did all this in order to force the people of the South to remain part of the country against their will. Why is this considered perfectly acceptable while the Confederacy, along with everything associated with it, is condemned?

Both sides in the Civil War deserve to be recognized and celebrated. Erasing and defaming the losing side of a war is intolerant, conformist, and authoritarian. Every removal of a Confederate symbol is an assault on diversity, moving America closer to becoming a completely homogeneous, conformist, cookie-cutter nation in which all people think alike, a nation with no culture, no identity, and nothing that makes it different from any other nation. People from all backgrounds and all regions of the country should be able to honor their ancestors and celebrate their heritage.

One tiny glimmer of good news is the fact that there are still 725 Confederate statues and 1,800 total symbols of the Confederacy remaining, according to the SPLC’s report. However, because it is almost certain that no new Confederate symbols will be added in the current political climate, each instance of a symbol being removed is tragic beyond measure. Each loss is essentially permanent, a thing of glory, beauty, and magnificence lost forever, never to be replaced. All true patriots must fight to ensure that each and every one of these 1,800 Confederate symbols is preserved forever.

bookmark_borderBoston restaurant owner: “What did I do to deserve this?”

Last night, as has been happening all over the country, protests against the death of George Floyd turned into rioting in my home city of Boston.

A mob of people surrounded a police car, ripped the doors off, and set it on fire. People vandalized historic churches, set trash cans on fire, tipped over large potted plants, threw bottles at journalists, smashed the windows of countless stores and restaurants, and engaged in looting and destruction all over the city.

In Downtown Crossing and the Theater District, people ransacked a Men’s Warehouse, the jewelry stores Bromfield Jewelers and Skylight Jewelers, the liquor store Wild Duck Wine and Spirits, a convenience store called Downtown Convenience, shoe stores, nail salons, a bank, a cell phone store, and a Walgreens, to give just a few examples. News coverage on NECN last night showed food from the Walgreens strewn all over the sidewalk.

Tany Gad, the owner of Lambert’s Marketplace near Boston Common, which was also vandalized and looted, described the scene: “I never saw anything like this at all in my life. Two of the glass windows were 100% broken and people went inside stealing beer, wine, and cigarettes.”

In the Back Bay, people ransacked stores such as H&M, Cartier, Ugg, Alex and Ani, Canada Goose, Allen Edmonds, Valentino, Burberry, and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as the liquor store Clarendon Wine.

In the South End, people broke into and looted Giorgiana’s Market, the restaurant Frenchie, and sneaker store Laced.

In Dorchester, people destroyed clothing stores Dareales and EbLens.

The Boston Globe summed things up:

Chris Parsons, owner of the Oyster Club restaurant at 79 Park Plaza, went to bed Sunday night hopeful his restaurant had been spared from the violence wracking downtown Boston. He woke up Monday to learn looters had thrown rocks through his windows, pilfered the bar, and destroyed the place.

Kayla Levine was watching the news when she saw the liquor store near Copley Square that her family has owned since 1940 being looted. The damage in the neighborhood, she said, reminded her of the Boston Marathon bombings.

And Driss El Mokri raced downtown Sunday night to his Cafe Bonjour on Temple Street, arriving just as looters smashed the big front window. He stayed until 3:30 a.m., to make sure that was the only damage they did.

Jason Santos, owner of restaurants Abby Lane in the Theater District and Buttermilk & Bourbon in the Back Bay, said: “They stole most of our booze behind the bar, they ripped out the cash registers, and they trashed the place. They even stole my cookbooks.”

Possibly the most poignant comments came from El Mokri of Café Bonjour, who was interviewed live on last night’s news by a NECN reporter. Asked how he felt when, at home watching footage from the restaurant’s security cameras, he saw someone throw a brick through the window, he replied, “Loss of words. Sad. Heartbroken. You feel like, what did I do to deserve this? You talk about justice. This is injustice… What did I do to deserve this? What purpose does this serve? What good does this give to anyone? Nothing… You break my property for nothing and then you feel happy about it.”

Exactly. Café Bonjour did not kill George Floyd. Trash cans and plants do not oppress anyone. None of these businesses deserve any of the harm that was perpetrated against them.

The Boston Police Department tweeted at 9:59 last night: “Those now protesting in the streets of Boston have surrendered the moral high ground.”

I could not agree more. It is incomprehensible why people would choose to deliberately inflict such destruction, particularly given that these businesses have already suffered so much as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting shutdown order.

Additional protests have been happening today and tonight, so let’s hope that no more businesses are added to the list of those vandalized.

bookmark_borderProtests, riots, and double standards

Reports of the atrocities committed by protesters turned rioters in the wake of George Floyd’s death continue to pile up:

  • In Minneapolis, where the protests began, rioters destroyed a bar that a firefighter spent his life’s savings to build. They burned down an 189-unit affordable housing development and a high-tech manufacturing company. They torched a police station and vandalized, burned, or looted nearly every single building in the surrounding shopping district. They attacked a tanker truck and beat the driver. And they  attacked a woman in a wheelchair while looting a Target.
  • Rioters in Atlanta damaged the College Football Hall of Fame and smashed windows at CNN’s headquarters.
  • In Chicago, they smashed the windows of stores, including a Macy’s and a 7-11.
  • In Denver, someone deliberately crashed their car into a police car, severely injuring 4 people.
  • In Rochester, New York, rioters beat up a shop owner who was attempting to defend her store.
  • Rioters apparently shot a man in a car in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, people set police cars on fire.
  • In Columbus, Ohio, they destroyed and looted the Milestone 229 restaurant.
  • People vandalized Confederate monuments at the University of Mississippi and at North Carolina’s state capitol building. They vandalized statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Jeb Stuart in Richmond, Virginia, and burned down the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They spray-painted the word “traitor” on the Confederate Defenders statue in Charleston, South Carolina. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, they vandalized a statue of General Alexander P. Stewart.
  • In Nashville, people tore down a statue of lawmaker and newspaper publisher Edward Carmack, smashed the windows of the courthouse and set it on fire, and spray-painted obscenities on sidewalks.
  • In Philadelphia, they set a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo on fire.
  • In Dallas, they beat up a store owner and stomped on his head after he attempted to defend his business.
  • In San Antonio, Texas, they destroyed a mall and attempted to damage the Alamo, but were stopped by brave, armed citizens.
  • In Washington, D.C., rioters vandalized historic sites around the National Mall, including the World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and statue of General Casimir Pulaski. They punched and kicked Secret Service agents and threw bricks, bottles, and rocks at them, injuring 60. They also vandalized 6 Secret Service vehicles. And they attacked Fox News reporter Leland Vittert and his cameraman.
  • In Boston, people are currently setting police cars on fire, throwing bottles at journalists, and smashing the windows of various businesses including a bank, a clothing store, a shoe store, a cell phone store, a restaurant, and a Walgreens.

I could continue to add to the list, but then this blog post would be as long as a novel, and I would stay up all night working on it. Suffice it to say that the number of examples of protesters harming innocent people and their property is nearly infinite.

The only thing more infuriating than these senseless acts of destruction is the discrepancy between how the media and the general public have treated them versus how they have treated protests against authoritarian measures to stop the coronavirus.

The majority of comments that I’ve heard and read about the George Floyd protests from people in the media and on the internet have expressed praise, sympathy, and understanding. Even when it is acknowledged that harming innocent people and their property is wrong, emphasis is placed on how understandable the protesters’ anger is, how legitimate their grievances are, and how frustrated, hurt, and traumatized they are feeling. Those who criticize the acts of destruction are treated as the real problem. Additionally, not once I have I witnessed any media members comment on the lack of social distancing during these protests.

On the other hand, those who participate in protests against lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are routinely called “idiots” and “morons.” They have been suspended from their jobs and threatened with violence. Their cause – the right to privacy and freedom of movement – is mocked as petty and unimportant. People online have argued that these protesters have forfeited their right to medical services and that they should not be allowed to ride on public transportation. All of this despite the fact that, as far as I have heard and read, not a single anti-lockdown protester has harmed any people or property. And also despite the fact that the anti-lockdown protesters have the more legitimate and important cause. (This is not because George Floyd’s death wasn’t tragic and unjust – it absolutely was – but because the person who killed him has been fired, arrested, and charged, and nearly everyone agrees that his death was tragic and unjust. Stay-at-home orders, on the other hand, constitute a large-scale trampling on the rights of every single person, yet have gone not only unchallenged but actively supported by the majority of the media and the public, making it particularly important and courageous to protest against them.)

The protesters in Michigan who went to the state capitol while exercising their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms have been criticized more harshly for being “intimidating” than Black Lives Matter supporters have been for destroying buildings, vandalizing monuments, ransacking businesses, and beating and severely injuring people.

The attitude of society generally seems to be: Protesting peacefully against authoritarian government policies is selfish and irresponsible. Smashing, burning, and destroying everything in sight, however, is perfectly fine.

Did I miss a scientific discovery that being a supporter of Antifa or the Black Lives Matter movement confers immunity from the coronavirus?

bookmark_borderGeorge Floyd’s death was an injustice, but so is destroying innocent people’s property

The death of George Floyd while in police custody after being pinned to the ground by a police officer was horrible and morally wrong. Few people who have watched the video of his arrest would argue against that. The four officers involved deserved to be fired and arguably deserve to be charged with homicide for their actions.

But you know what else is horrible and morally wrong? Destroying innocent people’s property.

That is exactly what protesters have done over the past two days in Minneapolis. Understandably angry about Floyd’s death, people not so understandably burned a nearly completed apartment building to the ground, looted a pawn shop and a Foot Locker store, destroyed and looted a recently renovated Target store, and damaged numerous other commercial buildings.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the National Guard, saying: “Unfortunately, some individuals have engaged in unlawful and dangerous activity, including arson, rioting, looting, and damaging public and private property. These activities threaten the safety of lawful demonstrators and other Minnesotans, and both first responders and demonstrators have already been injured.”

Every individual who damaged or stole property during these riots should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. People have every right to protest peacefully against police brutality, but they do not have the right to damage or steal the property of innocent people. These acts of destruction are senseless because they are being committed against people who have absolutely nothing to do with Floyd’s death.

My question to the rioters is: what did the partially completed apartment building do wrong to deserve your wrath? What did the Target do to you? How about the pawn shop, or the sneaker store?

These buildings did nothing wrong, nor did the people and/or companies who own them. Protests should be directed against the people and institutions who actually did something wrong, not against innocent people and their property.