bookmark_borderMaryland considering getting rid of state song

Naturally, in this era of political-correctness-motivated war against everything to do with the Confederacy, various people are demanding that Maryland replace its state song, “Maryland, My Maryland.” The song was written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 in response to riots that took place as Union soldiers passed through Baltimore on their way to Washington, D.C. The lyrics criticize Abraham Lincoln and the North and express support for secession. It became the state song in 1939, but starting in 1974 there have been 9 unsuccessful attempts to repeal it.

The full lyrics are as follows:

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bookmark_borderStatues matter

All across the country and world, statues have been under attack. Statues of explorers, saints, Confederate leaders, founding fathers, generals, and pretty much any historical figure who does not meet today’s strict standards of political correctness. And occasionally statues that do not represent historical figures at all but were targeted for no apparent reason other than that someone wanted to destroy a statue. Sometimes, the attacks on statues are carried out by lawless mobs who spatter paint and graffiti all over them, tear them down, and/or set them on fire. Sometimes the attacks are carried out by state and local governments that hire work crews to remove them and put them in storage. Some of these anti-statue actions are more barbaric than others, but they are all morally wrong.

As someone who loves both history and art, I love statues. I love studying historical figures and learning cool facts about them. Statues are essentially the physical manifestation of historical figures in today’s world, and as such, I cherish them. I love to visit and photograph statues in my native Boston and everywhere I travel. Every statue represents a person who walked this earth at some point in time, a person with both positive and negative attributes. Each one is a beautiful work of art. In short, statues make the world a better place.

Like everyone in the world, I like and admire some historical figures more than others. Therefore, I like some statues more than others. I would never tear down, vandalize, or ask my local government to remove a statue depicting a historical figure I do not like, and I do not understand why so many people feel that they have the right to do this when it comes to the historical figures they do not like. Each person has his or her own opinions about what makes a historical figure admirable, or not admirable. Each person has his or her own ideas about which flaws are forgivable and which flaws make a historical figure unworthy of being celebrated or honored. What is so disturbing about the recent trend of vandalizing and removing statues is that it prioritizes one set of views above others. Those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum and those aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement are allowed to destroy statues that they dislike with relative impunity, and local officials are bending over backwards to remove any remaining offending statues that have somehow managed to escape destruction. The feelings, wishes, and opinions of those who like these statues are not taken into account at all. In other words, in today’s society, one group of people enjoys the ability to have its preferences with respect to historical figures and statues enacted into public policy, while the preferences of other people are completely ignored. To say that this is unjust is an understatement.

The mobs that destroy statues have been referred to as protesters, rioters, anarchists, and even domestic terrorists. Senator Ted Cruz called them the “American Taliban.” I don’t think any of these terms are harsh enough to fully convey how morally repugnant these attacks on statues are. The mentality of these excuses for human beings seems to be that only things that they personally like should be allowed to exist. Their goal seems to be to destroy for the sake of destroying, to obliterate everything that is beautiful or glorious, and to make the world as bad a place as possible. Those who destroy statues are bigots and bullies. They practice complete intolerance for anyone different from them. It would not be inaccurate to say that they have no souls.

Some people consider statues unimportant. They argue that statues are just stone or metal objects, and we should focus on protecting and improving people’s lives. They do not care one way or the other about whether the world and its cities and towns have beautiful statues. I do not feel this way. As someone on the autism spectrum, I tend to be drawn to inanimate objects more than to people. Because I love historical figures, I love statues. I have a visceral reaction when reading about or watching a video of the destruction of a statue, more than I do when reading about bad things happening to living people. Fighting back against the destruction of statues is incredibly important to me. Statues may not be necessary to have a functioning world. People can go about their daily lives and have their basic needs met without the existence of any statues in public spaces. But the world would be immeasurably worse. The feeling that I get when I see a statue of a brave general on a horse, or an explorer from a long-ago era, is difficult to put into words. The inherent value that statues and monuments bring to our public spaces is difficult to quantify or explain with logical reasoning, but that does not make it any less real.

Without a doubt, every time a statue is destroyed or removed, the world is made worse. Every act of destruction against a statue is disgusting, disgraceful, dishonorable, repugnant, reprehensible, and any other negative adjective that can be imagined. Every news report of a statue being vandalized, torn down, or removed is painful and heartbreaking. The videos of workers removing the statues of Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and J.E.B. Stuart from Monument Avenue in Richmond. The images of graffiti covering the magnificent statue of Robert E. Lee. The Christopher Columbus statue in Boston, a statue that I walk past almost every day, with its head brutally knocked to the ground. The footage of mobs pulling down a Columbus statue in Baltimore, causing it to smash into pieces as it hit the ground. The Junipero Serra statue in San Francisco toppled, brutalized with a jackhammer, its hands severed. The statue of philanthropist Edward Colston in Bristol, England being dragged through the streets and thrown into the harbor. Statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson splattered with red paint. The iconic elk statue in Portland (yes, an elk) set on fire.

I could keep listing examples until this blog post became as long as a novel, but the bottom line is that actions like these are among the most morally wrong things someone could do. Therefore, they need to be punished severely. Police departments need to prioritize arresting those who vandalize statues, and district attorneys need to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Laws should be changed to make punishments harsher; life in prison is not an excessive punishment, in my opinion. At the absolute least, cities and towns should never, ever take down statues that have been the targets of vandalism. This condones vandalism and rewards its perpetrators. Every statue that is vandalized needs to be repaired and then guarded around the clock. In some cases it will be impossible to catch the culprits who destroy statues – sometimes these acts take place in the middle of the night with no witnesses or cameras nearby – but restoring and protecting the vandalized statues punishes the culprits without even needing to know their identities. Even better, whenever a statue is vandalized, local governments should build ten more statues of the same historical figure. A message needs to be sent that intentionally damaging statues is unacceptable. Those who do this cannot be allowed to win under any circumstances.

Unfortunately, contrary to what is depicted in the above picture, statues cannot defend themselves. It is up to governments and if needed, private citizens, to protect them. One of the few pieces of good news that has happened in the world recently is that unlike most mayors and governors, President Trump is taking a stand in defense of statues. On June 26, he signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice to enforce federal laws that authorize up to 10 years in prison for anyone who vandalizes a statue or monument on federal property. On July 3, during his speech at Mt. Rushmore, he condemned the “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.” And on the same date, he signed another executive order creating a task force for building and rebuilding monuments and ordering the creation of a national statue park. It is for this reason that unless something drastically changes between now and November, I will vote for Trump. This will be the first time that I have not voted for a third-party candidate. I have considered the Libertarian Party to be the party that comes closest to matching my beliefs, and I agree with its presidential nominee, Jo Jorgensen, on most issues. However, Jorgensen has not, as far as I know, expressed any outrage about the destruction of statues. The statue issue is so important to me that I will support the candidate who most agrees with me on this topic, and right now that’s Trump.

People around the world need to take a stand against the destruction of and removal of statues. Enough is enough. Every time a statue is destroyed or removed, the world becomes a worse place. No statue should ever be removed, unless for the purpose of replacing it with an even more magnificent statue of the same historical figure. If there are concerns about the racial and gender diversity of statues, the way to address those concerns is to build additional statues, not to take down existing ones.

Statues matter. All statues.

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_borderPolitical correctness: where some people’s feelings matter more than others

A stereotype that one hears a lot when reading about and discussing political issues is that liberals and the politically correct crowd tend to place too much value on “feelings.” Those on the right-hand side of the political spectrum frequently accuse those on the left of being too quick to take offense, too obsessed with psychological comfort, and too concerned with making sure no one’s feelings get hurt. 

But I don’t really agree with this. In a way, feelings are the most important thing in the world. It makes sense to place great value on them. Whether a person’s life is happy or miserable is a function of what types of feelings he or she has the majority of the time. Every event or life circumstance is judged as good or bad based on what type of feelings it causes in the people affected. I’m opposed to the politically correct attitudes of what has been termed “cancel culture,” but not because this movement is too concerned with feelings. Rather, this movement is concerned with the feelings of some people, but not others.

When banning the Confederate flag, NASCAR stated that it wanted racetracks to be more welcoming and comfortable places for fans. But no regard was shown for those fans who cherish the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage, and whose experience at the track will now be diminished. The same goes for changing the names of military bases and streets that are named for Confederate generals, for banning controversial books, movies, and TV shows, for changing the logos of Aunt Jemima syrup and Uncle Ben rice, and for something as seemingly trivial as Disney World’s decision to change the Splash Mountain ride to something more politically correct. What about the feelings and preferences of those who like the Confederate names, who like the books, movies, and shows, who like the old logos, and who like the Splash Mountain ride as it is? Numerous cities and towns, when announcing their decisions to remove controversial statues, have cited the pain that the statues allegedly cause. But what about the pain that the removal causes for people who love those statues?

For example, after a despicable excuse for a human being decapitated the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s Christopher Columbus Park earlier this month, leaders of various left-leaning groups held a press conference in which they verbally bashed the statue, saying that they find it insulting and that it makes them feel unwelcome in the park. When I was working in my office downtown, I walked through that park nearly every day at lunch time. I chose this park as my walking destination not just because of its beautiful views and convenient location, but because I like Christopher Columbus and think it’s cool that the park is named for him. Seeing the statue brightened my day. Did the person who so cruelly vandalized him, or the leaders urging him to be removed permanently, ever take this into account? Does anyone care that I will likely not visit this park anymore if the statue is removed permanently? Or that my life will be made worse by the removal of the statue? Obviously not. Because to the devotees of the political correctness movement, my feelings do not matter, only theirs.

On a similar note, when San Francisco removed its Christopher Columbus statue, Catherine Stefani of the Board of Supervisors explained that the decision was “about showing love to our friends and neighbors who are hurting in this moment, to communities that have been hurting for centuries. It is about giving all of us the opportunity to heal.” Did she stop to consider the fact that removing the statue would cause hurt for those who appreciate the work of art and admire its subject, Christopher Columbus? Removing the statue shows “love” to some people while showing contempt and hatred for others. It might give some people the opportunity to heal but actively inflicts pain on other people. Why do those people, and their pain, not matter?

In an excellent article, Robby Soave of Reason Magazine calls this phenomenon “the 1793 project,” after the year when the Committee on Public Safety took over the French Revolution. He explains that many people on the left are so obsessed with emotional safety that they demand the firing of anyone who expresses an opinion with which they disagree. “Ironically, the same subset of people ostensibly exercised about emotional safety – the woke left – seem frequently inclined to level unsubstantiated accusations that inflict emotional harm,” he writes. “That makes it difficult to believe that these Twitter warriors’ true aim is the promotion of psychological comfort.”  

Indeed, the politically correct crowd has inflicted tremendous amounts of psychological distress on people who express views of which they disapprove, of which Soave gives several examples: They have caused a political scientist to be fired for suggesting that nonviolent protests are more likely to succeed than violent protests, the editor of the New York Times editorial page to lose his job because he allowed the publication of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton, a lecturer to be suspended for not making a final exam “no harm” for students of color, and a journalist to be forced to apologize for interviewing a protester who criticized violent tactics. As Soave points out, “losing employment and social standing is no small matter… and being shamed online by thousands of people over a trivial offense is an unpleasant and exhausting experience, even if it doesn’t permanently impact your employment.”

Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with placing importance on people’s feelings. What is so objectionable about the cult of political correctness is that its followers only care about the feelings of themselves and those who are similar to them. Whether through online harassment, demanding that people be fired, banning flags, or tearing down statues, cancel culture sets out to make some people more comfortable while actively inflicting pain on other people. That is not fair, and it is not inclusive. People with dissenting views have feelings, too.