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_borderHypocritical and racist letter on public health and protests

Earlier this month, over 1,000 public health professionals, infectious disease professionals, and community stakeholders wrote an open letter entitled “Open letter advocating for an anti-racist public health response to demonstrations against systemic injustice occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the letter, they praise protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement while insulting and defaming protests against authoritarian government restrictions. In regards to the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the letter reads, “A public health response to these demonstrations is also warranted, but this message must be wholly different from the response to white protesters resisting stay-home orders.”

It is disturbing that public health professionals would openly advocate such disparate treatment towards protesters based on whether or not they personally agree with the message of the protest.

When it comes to Black Lives Matter protests, the letter reads: “We do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”

The letter urges everyone to “support local and state governments in upholding the right to protest and allow protesters to gather.” The letter recommends that authorities neither disband protests, not arrest protesters, nor use tear gas or any other type of respiratory irritant. The letter encourages bystanders to provide masks, hand-washing stations, hand sanitizer, face shields, goggles, and wrapped, single-serving food and beverages to protesters. (This suggestion is particularly jarring when contrasted with the uproar that took place when a college allowed police officers keeping order during a protest to use its bathroom.) And the letter urges people to donate to protesters’ bail funds.

On the other hand, when it comes to protests against authoritarian government policies, the letter has this to say:

“On April 30, heavily armed and predominantly white protesters entered the State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, protesting stay-home orders and calls for widespread public masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Infectious disease physicians and public health officials publicly condemned these actions and privately mourned the widening rift between leaders in science and a subset of the communities that they serve.”

How could the authors of this letter condemn people who are not only doing nothing wrong, but bravely standing up for individual rights? Stay-at-home orders are morally wrong, and therefore protesters in Michigan (and all over the country) were 100% correct in protesting against them. It is the stay-at-home orders that should be condemned, not those protesting against them. And how could someone “mourn” the fact that people are protesting against a morally wrong government policy? The real cause for mourning is the fact that so-called “leaders in science” have lost all sense of right and wrong and think nothing of throwing away individual rights and freedom in the name of safety. If there is a rift between leaders in science and people who are standing up for individual rights, it is the leaders in science who are on the wrong side.

Why does the letter mention that the anti-lockdown protesters were “heavily armed and predominantly white”? People have a right to bear arms; the protesters were not doing anything wrong by being heavily armed. Additionally, their race is irrelevant. Believing that people should have a right to move about freely and that the government does not have a right to order people to stay in their homes has nothing to do with race. But despite this, the authors of the letter repeatedly categorize the anti-lockdown protesters as “white” and even go so far as to accuse the protests of being “rooted in white nationalism.”

Clarifying its position on Black Lives Matter protests, the letter states that this position “should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders. Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.”

How is protesting against authoritarian government policies “rooted in white nationalism”? And how does this “run contrary to respect for Black lives”? In addition to accusing protesters of being white nationalists while providing no evidence to support that claim, the letter appears to be stating that respect for Black lives requires people to accept government policies that take away everyone’s freedom of movement. This is a preposterous claim. No person, of any race, has the right to demand that others shelter in their homes in order to keep him or her safe. No sane person could find it disrespectful for others to go about their lives and mind their own business. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. Allowing people to make their own decisions about risk is the only way to truly respect not just Black lives but lives of all races. Paternalistic and authoritarian government policies such as stay-at-home orders are disrespectful to all people, and protesting against them demonstrates true respect for Black lives and all lives.

Also, the fact that the anti-lockdown protests “oppose public health interventions” is not a bad thing. The public health interventions being challenged are morally wrong because they violate people’s rights to move about freely, and therefore it is correct to oppose them.

Furthermore, the letter demands that the public “listen, and prioritize the needs of Black people as expressed by Black voices.” Although this might sound like a nice sentiment, when you think about it, it is actually racist. Of course, everyone should listen to Black voices, just as everyone should listen to the voices of people of all races. But it is wrong to prioritize the needs of Black people, because the needs of all races matter equally. To prioritize the needs of Black people over the needs of others is racist and discriminatory.

So to sum up, the authors of this letter are on the wrong side of the issue of individual rights versus safety, are mischaracterizing this issue as having to do with race when it does not, and are also advocating that Black people be given preferential treatment over other races. They are advocating that protests with which they personally agree be not only permitted but actively supported and encouraged, while singling out protests with which they personally disagree for insults and condemnation. People with such racist attitudes and such disrespect for the rights of those they claim to serve have no business holding positions of leadership in their communities of in the field of public health. Each person who signed this letter should be fired from his or her job and should be sued for defamation.

bookmark_borderOn racism, anti-racism, and “white fragility”

In a Boston Globe Magazine opinion piece entitled “What Too Many White People Still Don’t Understand About Racism,” writer and lecturer Linda Chavers writes:

“You have not seen outrage until you have seen the face of a white person being called a racist. You would think seeing the image of Emmett Till’s mutilated corpse in an open casket in 1955 or Michael Brown’s body lying dead in a Missouri street in 2014 would evoke extreme shock and horror. But, actually, white people get the most worked up when they or someone they know have been labeled a racist. Witness Laura Trott, a Conservative member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, finding it ‘extremely offensive’ that a Black counterpart, Dawn Butler, called Boris Johnson a racist. Same goes for Donald Trump’s ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body,’ or liberal whites with what Martin Luther King, Jr. called their ‘polite’ racism.”

I’m not sure why Chavers finds it so strange that people would be outraged when being falsely accused of something they did not do. It is extremely offensive to call someone a racist if he or she is not. People have a right not to be accused of doing things they did not do or having character flaws they do not have, and they have a right to be outraged and offended if this happens. Chavers seems to think that she should be free to criticize people with impunity, merely because they are white. If a particular person actually is racist, then yes, calling that person racist is the right thing to do. But if a person is not racist, then calling that person racist is wrong. Chavers does not seem to recognize or care about this distinction. Either she believes it’s OK to accuse people of something they did not do, or she believes that all white people are racist, which, ironically, is racist. Both things are equally wrong.

“This national ignorance leads white people to take offense at being called a racist or, worse, to declare the election of Barack Obama as the cause of racial strife or, worse still, to see extrajudicial executions of Black people as outside the norm,” Chavers writes. “It is absolutely the norm…. White Americans cannot deny the truth and reality of lethal violence toward Black people. They cannot say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t happen’ or ‘That’s only a few bad apples’ or ‘Let’s wait until we have all the facts.'”

Then she tells the reader, “Start listening instead of arguing.”

Well, actually, I can say all three of those things, and I can argue if I disagree with what Chavers is saying. It is entirely reasonable to claim that extrajudicial executions of Black people are outside the norm, or that only a few “bad apples” would commit such crimes. It is entirely prudent to wait until one has all the facts before making a judgment. What right does Chavers have to tell her readers that they cannot say these things? Why are people not allowed to express any opinion that differs from hers? 

This attitude reminds me of the sentiments expressed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with The Hill. In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez spoke about something called “white fragility,” the alleged tendency of white people to become upset when confronted with their own alleged racism. “Even the term ‘white fragility’ can really set a lot of people off,” she said. “It’s almost ironic.”

As you might guess from my double use of the word “allegedly,” I don’t believe in the concept of “white fragility.” Just like claiming that white people, as a group, are racist or ignorant, accusing someone of demonstrating “white fragility” is racist. Associating a negative character trait with an entire race would never be tolerated if directed towards Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, or any other race. Racism against white people shouldn’t be tolerated either.

What Ocasio-Cortez got right is that the situation is, indeed, ironic. Those who believe in the concept of “white fragility” would likely use my objection to the term as evidence of its existence. The fact that I am objecting to being called fragile, goes the argument, proves that I am indeed fragile. But this does not demonstrate any fragility inherent to white people; it demonstrates a problem with the use of the term “white fragility.” It is unfair to criticize a person or group of people, and then use their objection to the criticism as evidence that the criticism is true. If one accepts this logic, then there is no way for the person being criticized to defend himself or herself. The person doing the criticism automatically wins the argument. This logic resembles the reasoning Chavers uses when she tells her readers that they cannot deny or argue against her claims. Both are essentially saying that they are right, that anyone who disagrees with them is ignorant and fragile, and that the more strenuously the person disagrees, the more ignorant and fragile he or she must be.

(This is similar to the logical fallacy called “poisoning the well“).

Strength of character does not require a person to take unfair criticism or false accusations without fighting back. Quite the opposite, in fact. Standing up for oneself demonstrates courage, independence of thought, and a sense of morality and justice. There’s nothing “fragile” about that.

bookmark_borderSaying that white lives matter is not illegal

At a Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Burnley on Monday, a plane flew overhead pulling a banner that read “White Lives Matter Burnley.” And, as would be expected in this era of extreme political correctness, everyone proceeded to completely freak out.

Burnley’s captain, Ben Mee, said that he was “ashamed and embarrassed.” The team issued a statement condemning the banner, apologizing for not somehow preventing it from flying, and promising to ban the person(s) responsible for life.

Blackpool Airport in northern England, the airport where the company that operated the plane was based, said that it was “outraged” and suspended all banner-towing operations.

“Last night’s awful stunt was done by a small minority to offend and cause hurt to so many in our community,” lawmaker Antony Higginbotham said. “Those responsible should be ashamed of their desire to divide.”

Russ Proctor, chief superintendent of the Lancashire County police force, announced that an investigation had begun. “We will then be in a position to make an assessment as to whether any criminal offenses have taken place,” he said.

My questions is: why is the phrase “Black Lives Matter” celebrated, encouraged, and not considered the least bit controversial, while the phrase “White Lives Matter” is almost universally condemned?

If White Lives Matter is considered shameful, embarrassing, outrageous, awful, offensive, hurtful, and divisive, then Black Lives Matter should be considered the same. Black lives matter, and white lives do, too. Lives of all races matter equally. If it’s not considered racist to say that black lives matter – as millions of people have done at protests, at sporting events, in speeches, and on social media – then it shouldn’t be considered racist to say that white lives matter, either. Why are so many people offended by the concept that white lives matter, too? Do the people who are so offended by this banner believe that white lives don’t matter?

This banner is nothing to be outraged, ashamed, or embarrassed about. There is nothing offensive or hurtful about it. And there is absolutely no reason for police to investigate it. Even if you (wrongly) consider the banner offensive, that does not make it illegal. People have a right to say controversial things, or write them on huge banners flying through the sky.

bookmark_borderStatue of Confederate soldier hanged in North Carolina

In an absolutely disgusting act of bigotry and hatred, a mob of excuses for human beings in Raleigh, North Carolina tore down statues of Confederate soldiers from atop an obelisk and hanged one of the soldiers from a light post.

According to the Associated Press:

Protesters in North Carolina’s capital pulled down parts of a Confederate monument Friday night and hanged one of the toppled statues from a light post.

Demonstrators used a strap to pull down two statues of Confederate soldiers that were part of a larger obelisk near the state capitol in downtown Raleigh, news outlets reported.

Police officers earlier in the evening had foiled the protesters’ previous attempt to use ropes to topple the statues. But after the officers cleared the area, protesters mounted the obelisk and were able to take down the statues.

They then dragged the statues down a street and used a rope to hang one of the figures by its neck from a light post. The other statue was dragged to the Wake County courthouse, according to the News & Observer.

Out of all of the despicable acts of destruction that have taken place over the last few weeks, hanging a statue is the worst yet. Every person (and I hesitate to even use that term) who participated in or applauded this horrific act should be hunted down, caught, and jailed for the rest of his or her life. Then, he or she should burn in hell for all eternity.

There are no words to fully convey the moral wrongness of what was done to this statue. There is no justifiable reason for someone to have such anger, rage, and hatred towards a statue. The statue did not hurt anyone. The statue did not do anything wrong to deserve this. The artist(s) who designed and built this statue did not deserve to have their work destroyed in this manner.

Apparently, someone decided that in order to make a statement against acts of violence that have been perpetrated against African-Americans, it would be a good idea to “lynch” a statue representing the Confederacy. No idea could possibly be worse. The statue that was so cruelly destroyed represents the soldiers who fought bravely for the South’s independence, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. It represents the Confederate States of America, a country that existed from 1861-1865 before being crushed by the more populous and industrialized North. I would go so far as to say that the statue represents resistance to government authority; in other words, freedom.

By pulling down and hanging statues of Confederate soldiers, these excuses for human beings are stomping on the underdog. They are trampling on the idea of freedom, the idea of rebellion, and the idea of resistance to authority. It is bad enough that the authoritarian federal government brutally and barbarically crushed the South’s attempt to secede and form their own country. But apparently that was not enough because now, in the year 2020, mobs feel a need to brutally and barbarically destroy statues representing that rebellion as well. The fact that the brave, honorable, losing side of a war is not even allowed to be honored with a statue or monument is beyond absurd. The fact that those who sympathize with the winning side of a war would have such rage towards the side that they unjustly defeated is incomprehensible. What was done to this statue is the ultimate act of bullying and intolerance.

Every living thing (“person” is too kind a term) who participated in or contributed to this destruction is a bigot and a bully who should not be allowed to exist on Earth. I condemn this act in the harshest possible terms.  

bookmark_borderMayor freaks out about “nooses,” finds out they were actually swings

In Oakland, CA police found five ropes hanging from trees in a city park. Mayor Libby Schaaf denounced this as an act of racism and announced that a hate crimes investigation was underway.

The only problem: the ropes were not nooses at all. They were swings that a local man set up to use for fun and exercise. Victor Sengbe, who happens to be black, explained: “Out of the dozen and hundreds and thousands of people that walked by, no one has thought that it looked anywhere close to a noose. Folks have used it for exercise. It was really a fun addition to the park that we tried to create. It’s unfortunate that a genuine gesture of just wanting to have a good time got misinterpreted into something so heinous.”

That’s for sure.

But bizarrely, city officials don’t seem to care. Schaaf said that people must “start with the assumption that these are hate crimes.” She continued: “Intentions don’t matter when it comes to terrorizing the public. It is incumbent on all of us to know the actual history of racial violence, of terrorism, that a noose represents and that we as a city must remove these terrorizing symbols from the public view.”

Director of parks and recreation Nicholas Williams added, “The symbolism of the rope hanging in the tree is malicious regardless of intent. It’s evil, and it symbolizes hatred.”

These are some of the dumbest sentiments I have ever heard.

First of all, to say that something is “malicious regardless of intent” is an oxymoron. The definition of “malicious” is “full of, characterized by, or showing malice; intentionally harmful; spiteful” or “vicious, wanton, or mischievous in motivation or purpose.” In other words, it is the intention that determines whether or not an action is malicious.

Additionally, to start with the assumption that the ropes are hate crimes is just wrong. A central tenet of the American legal system is that people are presumed innocent unless proven guilty. And logically, if something could have either an evil or an innocuous explanation, one should assume the innocuous explanation. Why automatically assume the worst of your fellow human beings?

To describe rope swings as “terrorizing symbols” and to claim that they “terrorize the public” is preposterous. How could someone be terrorized by some ropes hanging from trees? Contrary to the claims of Schaaf and Williams, intentions do matter. The ropes were not nooses. They were swings. Swings are not evil. Swings do not symbolize hatred.

If you are terrorized by swings, that is your problem. Removing the swings, as the city did, is unfair to Sengbe and all the other Oakland residents who enjoyed them. The mayor and city government owe their citizens an apology for their ridiculous overreaction.

bookmark_borderMinneapolis truck driver did nothing wrong – highways are for driving on, not protesting

During the chaos that erupted in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, a tanker truck drove down a highway that was filled with protesters. Protesters pulled the truck driver, Bogdan Vechirko, out of the truck and beat him. He suffered cuts to his face and also had his phone and wallet stolen. Police then arrested Vechirko. This despite the fact that authorities failed to properly barricade the Interstate 35 West Bridge, and despite the fact that Vechirko noticeably slowed down in an attempt to avoid hitting anyone, as can be seen in the videos at the above link.

My first reaction upon hearing of this incident was, “Is it now customary to arrest the victims of crimes instead of the perpetrators?”

Fortunately, Vechirko was released without charges being filed.

But unfortunately, there is now a racist petition calling for Vechirko to be arrested again. The anonymous individual who created the petition on change.org wrote the following:

so on May 31st we had a peaceful protest from the US BANK STADIUM to 35W bridge until a white a supremacist came in with his semi gas truck and ploughed through us. and no the highway wasn’t open but rather closed for the protest. It was the most traumatic experience of my life and I’ll never forget the ones who helped me when I was in panic. this could’ve turned into a mass killing but it was a miracle that no one was hurt. and the fact that he planned all this and was seeing through to it was just inhuman and disgusting. we read his texts from his phone and this was clearly premeditated. what he did was terrorism and he should be charged for it! if a black man or a Muslim man did this he would be long gone and convicted and the media would blast him as a terrorist ASAP. they didn’t even handcuff him and were protecting him but it’s okay to do that to black people and even kill them? “peaceful protestors are being teargassed, run over, and beat up before being unlawfully arrested, but this guy–WHO DROVE INTO A CROWD–was released without being charged bc he was “frustrated” by traffic? Sounds about white.” And that’s white privilege people. I demand that we come together to combat racial injustice in this broken justice system and that they treat everyone with equality.

There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to figure out where to start.

  • First of all, someone creating a petition calling for an innocent person to be arrested should at least use proper punctuation and grammar.
  • Second, what evidence does this individual have that Vechirko was a white supremacist? How could someone think it is even remotely acceptable to just state that someone is a white supremacist without providing any evidence to back up that claim?
  • Third, the highway was not closed for the protest. Authorities were intending to barricade the highway but did not do it quickly enough, and Vechirko and his truck were already on the bridge before they had time to put barricades up.
  • Fourth, it was the most traumatic experience of your life? Seriously? You chose to go onto a highway to protest. Highways are for driving on. You have no right to be upset when a truck does exactly what it is supposed to do on a highway. Vechirko is the one who was dragged out of his truck and beaten by a mob, and you, a member of that mob, complain that you are traumatized?
  • Fifth, it seems that the individual behind the petition is claiming that he/she read texts from Vechirko’s phone after the group of protesters stole it. I don’t think that being part of a mob who beat and robbed someone is something that one should brag about.
  • Sixth, if a black person or Muslim was beaten and robbed by a mob for driving a truck on a highway, he/she would be neither “long gone and convicted” nor “blasted as a terrorist ASAP.” He/she would be portrayed as a victim and martyr and would not have been arrested in the first place.
  • Seventh, it was correct for the police to protect Vechirko and not handcuff him, because he did nothing wrong and was the victim of a crime.
  • Eighth, “sounds about white” is a blatantly racist statement. Why do you think that it is OK to insult someone because of the color of his skin? Vechirko was released without being charged not because of his race but because he did nothing wrong. He should not have even been arrested in the first place.
  • Ninth, there is no such thing as white privilege. Not being charged with a crime when you did not commit any crimes is a right, not a privilege.
  • Tenth, how can you demand that the justice system treat everyone with equality when your petition is asking for the exact opposite of that?

Other than that, this petition makes perfect sense.

The bottom line is that a highway is for driving. A tanker truck has every right to be on the highway. Protesters do not have a right to be on the highway. Vechirko did nothing wrong. The protesters did something wrong by being on the highway. They – particularly the ones who decided to drag him out of his truck and beat him – are the ones who should be charged with crimes, not him.

bookmark_borderNo, Christopher Columbus Park is not “dedicated to white supremacy”

After the horrific attack on the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston, representatives from the United American Indians of New England, North American Indian Center of Boston, Indigenous Peoples Day MA, and New Democracy Coalition held a press conference near the site where the statue used to be. The purpose of the press conference was apparently to insult the statue and by extension, the Italian-American community. 

“For 500 years plus, Black and indigenous people have endured a campaign of state violence,” complained Jean-Luc Pierite, president of the North American Indian Center of Boston, without providing any explanation of what he means by this or any evidence that it is true.

“It’s a park dedicated to white supremacy; it’s a park dedicated to indigenous genocide,” said Mahtowin Munro of United American Indians of NE and IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org. “The messaging is clear with the statue here that this is an area where white people are welcome, but where our people are not welcome. So we’ve been asking for years that this statue come down and that Columbus be no longer celebrated.”

“This statue needs to be permanently removed,” said Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition. “It is an insult to Native American people, it is an insult to the very idea of democracy. We demand that this statue be removed and that it is never seen again.” 

These comments are so deeply wrong – morally, philosophically, and intellectually – that it is difficult to determine which statement is the most preposterous.

First of all, Christopher Columbus Park is not dedicated to white supremacy or indigenous genocide. That is not even remotely close to being true, and it makes absolutely no sense that anyone would say or think that. Christopher Columbus Park is dedicated to…. Christopher Columbus. It might be true that Columbus was a white supremacist (as was pretty much every single person in the 15th century) and it could be argued that his actions amounted to genocide (although that is highly debatable), but to equate Columbus with white supremacy and genocide, as if those are his only two attributes, is ridiculous. Columbus was a person. He had many different qualities, both positive and negative, and did many different things over the course of his life. Discovering an entirely new continent, which Europeans did not know about before, was a pretty significant achievement. Was he perfect? No. Did he treat indigenous people in the best possible way? No. But it is wrong to claim that honoring Columbus is the same thing as honoring white supremacy and indigenous genocide. 

Equally preposterous is the claim that “the messaging is clear” that only white people are welcome in Columbus Park and not indigenous or black people. There is no messaging that only white people are welcome in Columbus Park. People of all races are welcome there. That should not even need to be explained. As far as I know, no one has ever said, suggested, or implied in any way that only white people are welcome in the park. I walk through the park frequently and see people of all races, ages, and genders hanging out there. If you do not feel comfortable in the park, that is your own problem. If you hate Christopher Columbus so much that you are unwilling to set foot in a park that bears his name, that is your choice. No one did anything to make you feel unwelcome.

The contention that the statue is an insult to Native American people and to the idea of democracy is also false. How can a statue be an insult to someone? There is no historical figure that is liked and admired by all people. For any statue, there are going to be some people who like it and some people who don’t. If you believe that Columbus’s treatment of indigenous people outweighs his positive attributes, then you are probably not a fan of his statue. That is fine. But that does not mean the statue’s existence is an insult to you. There are numerous historical figures that I dislike. For example, I don’t like Hubert Humphrey because he sponsored the Durham-Humphrey Amendment, and I don’t like General Richard Sherman because of the atrocities he committed against the South during the Civil War. But I don’t claim that statues depicting them are an insult to me, nor do I demand that those statues be removed.

As for the demand that the Columbus statue be permanently removed, that is not only unreasonable but demonstrates true bigotry and intolerance. What right do you have to demand that a statue be removed, never to be seen again? Different people have different values, preferences, and opinions about which attributes are admirable in a historical figure and how the different attributes should be weighed. Therefore, different people will come to different conclusions about which historical figures deserve to be honored with statues. Yet the speakers at this press conference are arguing that their opinions, and only their opinions, should determine which statues are allowed to exist and which are not. What makes their opinions more important than other people’s opinions? They are demonstrating not one iota of consideration for those who admire Columbus and cherish the statue.

The criticisms of the statue and the demands to remove it are even more offensive when one takes into account the fact that Columbus was from Italy (he was born in Genoa, which was not part of Italy at the time but is now), and his statue and park are located at the southern edge of the North End, the Italian part of Boston. Columbus was essentially the first Italian-American. To many Italian-Americans today, his accomplishments are a source of pride. His statue represents the Italian-American community and symbolically welcomes Bostonians and visitors to the North End. It is disturbing that someone would equate celebrating Italian-American heritage with white supremacy. Not only do the people who spoke at the press conference consider the existence of anything they dislike to be a personal insult to them, but they apparently believe that their culture is the only one that deserves to be honored and celebrated. Not only do they believe they have a right to order the removal of any statue they dislike, but they believe they have a right to obliterate a symbol of Italian heritage from Boston’s Italian neighborhood. Go ahead and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day if you want to. Put up statues of notable indigenous people from history. But you do not get to tell other people to stop celebrating Columbus Day, and you do not get to take away the Columbus statue from those who cherish and appreciate it.

The only good thing to occur during the anti-Columbus press conference was that, according to Boston.com, a resident of the North End shouted his objections to removing the statue, at times drowning the speakers out. Good for him.

Munro, naturally, complained that this was emblematic of how indigenous people have allegedly been silenced for centuries. “We will not allow ourselves to be silenced anymore,” she said.

News flash: you have never been silenced. You and your fellow speakers at the press conference are the ones who are trying to silence any views that differ from yours. You are demanding that a beautiful statue be removed because you personally do not like it. You are demanding that other people stop celebrating a historical figure because you personally do not admire him. You are acting as if your views and preferences are the only ones that matter. How dare you gather at the site of a statue that has just been brutally beheaded and rub salt into the wounds of those who love the statue and the Italian heritage that it stands for? You are the ones who are truly being racist, discriminatory, and intolerant. 

bookmark_borderBully attacks free speech in Watertown

This week, in one of the latest examples of Black Lives Matter supporters taking things too far, a woman named Mary Burns decided to bully and insult an innocent person who was cleaning up the sidewalk. 

On Tuesday, Burns was riding her bike through Watertown, MA and saw a man mopping away messages that had been written in chalk on the sidewalk. The messages expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The man mopped away some of the messages and erased the word “black” from the phrase “black lives matter” so that it simply read “lives matter.”

Burns decided to accost the man and pick a fight with him, and then tweeted about the interaction:

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bookmark_borderChristopher Columbus statue destroyed in despicable act of bigotry

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In a despicable and disgraceful act of bigotry, someone beheaded the statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston.

Every time I hear about a statue of a historical figure being vandalized, torn down, or otherwise damaged, my blood boils and my soul aches. I love history and I love statues. I believe that a historical figure does not need to be perfect to deserve having a statue in his or her honor. I believe that it is important for a nation to have a wide variety of statues representing a range of different ideologies and viewpoints. I believe that destroying a statue is one of the most morally repugnant actions a person could do. But this one really hits home. To me, this statue is not just any statue. It is a statue that I know well and have a particular affinity for.

This statue stood in Christopher Columbus Park, on the edge of the North End, the Italian neighborhood of Boston. My office is near the statue, and before the Covid-19 apocalypse hit, I walked by it nearly every day during my lunch-time walk. Christopher Columbus Park is beautiful. It has an elegant trellis, colorful flowers of various kinds, and a view of Boston Harbor. The statue has always been the focal point, overlooking the grass, flowers, and water from his pedestal in the center of the park. The fact that someone could see this statue and decide that it would be a good idea to rip his head off is completely incomprehensible and disgusting.

Additionally, I find this act of destruction to be particularly reprehensible because I am half Italian-American. Christopher Columbus was not perfect. But he is a symbol of Italian-American pride. It is no coincidence that his statue stands at the entrance to the North End, welcoming Bostonians and visitors to the Italian part of Boston. The destruction of the Christopher Columbus statue is an act of hate against Italian-Americans. I consider it to be an attack on me personally, as well as all who share my ethnicity.

In his comments today, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh failed to take a strong enough stance against this act of destruction and bigotry. “We don’t condone any vandalism here in the city of Boston, and that needs to stop,” he said. Walsh mentioned that the Columbus statue has been vandalized twice before in 2006 and 2015. He also added, “Given the conversations that we’re certainly having right now in our city of Boston and throughout the country, we’re also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of the statue.”

In other words, because the statue has been repeatedly targeted by vandals, he is considering getting rid of it permanently. This somewhat contradicts his statement that he does not condone vandalism. Removing the statue permanently is exactly what the vandals want and are attempting to accomplish through their acts of vandalism. Giving in to the demands of the vandals would essentially be condoning what they are doing. It would also be an act of cowardice. I hope that Walsh stands up for the Italian-American community and all people who value true diversity, as opposed to caving to the bullies who believe that only politically-correct views deserve to be expressed and that some lives matter more than others.

The excuse for a human being who did this should be found, arrested, and punished to the fullest extent of the law. This is a hate crime and should be prosecuted as such. The Christopher Columbus statue needs to be repaired and restored to his rightful place, with a round-the-clock armed security guard protecting him at all times. The excuse for a human being who did this reprehensible deed should be made to pay for the repairs, as well as for the security detail. This excuse for a human being should be sentenced to as many years in prison as possible, and when he or she is released (hopefully never), statues of Christopher Columbus should be erected all over his or her neighborhood so that he or she is forced to look at Christopher Columbus at all times for the rest of his or her miserable life.

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