bookmark_borderRidiculous statement on Cecil Rhodes statue

In a small victory for people who are opposed to destroying everything good in the world, Oriel College, part of the University of Oxford, decided not to take down its statue of Cecil Rhodes.

In response, Rhodes Must Fall, the organization pushing for the statue’s destruction, issued a truly messed-up statement. “We send our own clear message to Oriel College and the University of Oxford: the resistance of Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford will not be ignored,” they tweeted. The rest of the statement is as follows:

There’s a lot of ridiculousness to rebut, but here goes:

  1. Organizations like Rhodes Must Fall are not practicing “resistance,” but the exact opposite. They are advocating that all cultures other than their own be obliterated from the earth. They are bullies and bigots who have no tolerance for anyone different from themselves. Therefore, they are the authoritarians and their opponents are the resistance.
  2. The reference to “rich, conservative white men” is sexist and racist.
  3. Monuments to Cecil Rhodes are not “physical images which glorify white supremacy.” They are physical images which glorify Cecil Rhodes. A person is not the same thing as white supremacy.
  4. The phrase “violent refusal” makes no sense. By definition, refusing to do something cannot be violent; only actively doing something can be violent. Removing a statue is violent; deciding against removing a statue is not.
  5. The “fire of decolonisation that is spreading through the planet” is Rhodes Must Fall’s way of describing the brutal and senseless effort to destroy everything that makes life worth living. This movement is bigoted and intolerant, and its goal is to completely ruin the lives of people who love art and history. It deserves to be criminalized, and it absolutely must be contained if the world is going to retain any trace of goodness or beauty in the years to come.
  6. The “culture war” that the statement references was not instigated by the the conservative party, as the statement implies, and it most certainly is not “a genocide driven by white supremacy.” This war was instigated by Rhodes Must Fall and the organizations that share its ideology, as they are the ones who are attempting to obliterate from the world all cultures other than their own. Rhodes Must Fall is actually correct in characterizing this conflict as a genocide, but in a way that is the opposite of what they intended. By attempting (successfully, in the vast majority of cases) to obliterate other cultures’ heritage and art, their side is perpetrating a genocide.
  7. The statue of Rhodes is not “harmful iconography,” and there is no “ongoing harm” from “generating and maintaining coloniality around the world,” whatever the heck that means.
  8. The anti-colonial movement is not based on liberation, as the statement claims. It is based on obliterating other cultures, which is the opposite of liberation.
  9. I’m not sure exactly what the reference to “reparations” means, but Rhodes Must Fall seems to be implying that Oriel College should compensate them for some alleged harm. This is disturbing, as Rhodes Must Fall and similar organizations are the ones inflicting harm on others. They are the ones who should pay reparations to those who they have harmed, not the other way around.
  10. The statement complains about the “refusal to listen” to the voices of those who have called for the removal of the statue. But those who love statues and want them to stay are the ones whose voices have truly been ignored. For the past year, anti-statue voices are literally the only ones that have been listened to, while pro-statue perspectives have consistently been ridiculed, dismissed, and completely disregarded.
  11. “We will continue to fight for the fall of the statue and everything it represents.” So you will continue to fight for everything that makes life worth living to be destroyed and all cultures other than your own to be obliterated from the earth. Great.

Needless to say, the decision to keep the Rhodes statue was the correct one, and Rhodes Must Fall has absolutely no right to demand its reversal. The members of this organization, and all those who share their ideology, are bullies who are trampling on the rights of everyone else, yet preposterously, they claim to be the “resistance.” They accuse their victims of genocide, while they are the ones who are truly guilty of this. These intolerant bigots have gotten their way for far too long, and it’s about time they got a taste of well-deserved defeat.

bookmark_borderMemorializing the memorials

I recently came across an article about the removal of a Confederate monument in Isle of Wight, Virginia. Shortly after the monument was taken away from its location outside the county courthouse, someone left Confederate flags at the site, presumably to honor the monument and to express opposition to the removal. 

This idea of memorializing memorials is something I fully support, although it is sad that such a thing is even necessary because the whole point of a statue or monument is that it is supposed to be permanent. 

This reminds me of something similar that I did earlier this year. I paid a visit to the empty pedestal near the waterfront where a statue of Christopher Columbus once stood, before he was brutally beheaded and then heartlessly removed by the city of Boston. I left flowers and a note on top of the pedestal in memory of Columbus and the statue that was unjustly taken away.

I left these flowers on the empty pedestal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston.

Returning to the topic of the Confederate monument and the flags left in its place: naturally, government officials and black supremacist activists had criticism for even this small, modest gesture of dissent. 

County Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson said: “The flags were removed because they showed a negative point of view of the county.”

The comments of Isle of Wight NAACP President Valerie Butler were even more objectionable: “It disturbs me very much but I’m not surprised. Our only intention was to remove the monument from the courthouse. What was the purpose of putting the flags there? We hope the removal is a new beginning for the community to come together and have an open dialogue.”

As is frequently the case, these comments demonstrate a complete lack of empathy. After deliberately taking an action that inflicted harm and pain on innocent people, Jefferson will not even allow the people he harmed to express their pain or mourn their loss. And Butler, in addition to being unable to comprehend the idea that people might hold opinions that differ from hers, also contradicts herself. She expresses her hope that people will have an open dialogue at the same time as she calls it disturbing that someone had the audacity to express a dissenting point of view.

Just like with all statues, the removal of this monument is indeed a new beginning: the beginning of a world with nothing beautiful, nothing good, and nothing that makes life worth living. Why anyone would consider this a positive thing is the true mystery here.

bookmark_borderCAIR’s hypocrisy on vandalism

The Massachusetts chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) recently issued a press release condemning acts of vandalism against two predominantly African-American churches. While these actions – one involving spraying black paint on a sign outside the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Springfield, MA and the other involving ripping a cross from the ground outside the Zion Baptist Church in Everett, MA – certainly deserve condemnation, I take issue with CAIR’s decision to condemn some acts of vandalism while ignoring others. 

In a separate press release, CAIR also condemned the vandalism of a Native American petroglyph called “The Birthing Scene” in Utah. But after glancing around CAIR’s website, I saw no mention whatsoever of any of the horrific acts of vandalism that have been perpetrated against European cultures’ statues, monuments, memorials, art works, buildings, or historic sites. No mention of the dozens of Christopher Columbus statues that have been torn down, smashed to pieces, burned, kicked, beheaded, or strangled. No mention of any of the acts of vandalism committed against statues of Junipero Serra or Juan Ponce de Leon. No mention of the Confederate monument in Portsmouth, Virginia that was smashed to pieces with sledgehammers by a vicious mob. No mention of the lynching of a Confederate soldier statue in Raleigh, North Carolina. No mention of the firebombing of the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia or the obliteration of Confederate statues from that same city. No mention of any of the dozens (hundreds?) of beautiful, historic statues that have been brutally attacked and destroyed over the past year due to hatred of the cultures that they represent. 

“The American Muslim community and CAIR are standing in solidarity with all those challenging anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and all other forms of bigotry,” the organization notes in each press release. It is interesting that the organization chose to specifically mention “anti-Black racism,” as opposed to just listing “racism.” Why is anti-black racism more worthy of challenging than anti-white racism? And why is white supremacy worse than the attitudes of black supremacy, anti-Italian bigotry, and authoritarianism that have motivated the brutal and heartless campaign of statue destruction of the past year? If CAIR truly stood in solidarity with all those challenging bigotry, they would condemn the vandalism of works of art honoring Italian, Spanish, and southern heroes just as strongly as they condemn vandalism of Native American works of art and predominantly black churches. 

In conclusion, it is inconsistent and discriminatory for CAIR to single out certain acts of vandalism for criticism and condemnation while completely ignoring others that are equally heinous, if not more so. To CAIR, acts of hate against some cultures are appalling and deserving of condemnation, while acts of hate against other cultures are perfectly fine. 

bookmark_borderThe statue genocide in Minnesota

Last June, among the hundreds of despicable acts of brutality inflicted upon statues, a particularly reprehensible act took place in St. Paul, Minnesota. A group of mindless, vicious excuses for human beings cruelly tore down the statue of Christopher Columbus that had been erected at the State Capitol building by the Italian-American community in 1931. Members of this mob tied a rope around Christopher’s neck, pulled him to the ground, repeatedly kicked him, stomped on him, and then danced in celebration. Making matters worse, police officers cravenly stood by, doing nothing to prevent this sickening assault, to stop the sadistic celebrations, or to punish the perpetrators. The photo gallery at the top of this Star Tribune article shows the disgusting actions, and the captions provide the identities of some of the perpetrators, including: Mike Forcia, Gabriel Black Elk, Shelby Black Elk, Ricky Jones, Hehaka Pejuta, and Genether Thornton.

I can think of nothing more morally wrong than what was done to this statue of Columbus. To see a man that I love, admire, and consider a hero being treated this way makes my blood boil, makes my stomach sick, and makes my heart feel like it is being ripped out of my chest. Since I first saw these pictures a few weeks ago, I have had nightmares, had difficulty sleeping, and had difficulty concentrating on anything other than these horrible actions. In addition to inflicting indescribable and unbearable suffering on me personally, these actions are despicable because they are an attack on the Italian-American community and on Columbus himself. To perpetrate such a vicious assault against a beautiful statue that was doing absolutely nothing to hurt anyone, and a heroic man who can no longer do anything to defend himself, is cruel, mean-spirited, brutal, vicious, bigoted, intolerant, hateful, and sadistic. It is appalling that someone would have such intolerance and hatred of other cultures that they would deliberately inflict this type of brutality on another culture’s hero.

The actions of a despicable excuse for a human being named Genether Thornton merit special mention. A particularly disturbing image in the Star Tribune’s gallery depicts Thornton proudly posing for photos with her knee on the fallen statue’s neck, just as Officer Chauvin infamously did to George Floyd. This action, and its symbolism, are completely reprehensible. Many people, of course, think that what Chauvin did to Floyd was wrong, and I probably agree with them. But how could someone think that the appropriate response to this situation is to do the exact same thing to another individual who had nothing to do with Floyd’s death? Because Floyd was suffocated to death, Thornton chose to symbolically suffocate to death both Columbus and the entire Italian-American community. In other words, to protest against perceived injustices inflicted on black people, Thornton chose to stomp on and symbolically murder an Italian person. This is deeply wrong and disgusting beyond words. Just as George Floyd was a human being who did not deserve what happened to him, Christopher Columbus was a human being who does not deserve to be repeatedly kicked, smashed to pieces, burned, stomped on, strangled, and brutalized. If you believe that what Chauvin did to Floyd was wrong, you must also believe that what Thornton did to Columbus was equally wrong (if not more so, because Thornton does not have the excuse of being in a stressful situation with a suspect who had the potential to be dangerous). Thornton is a bigot and a bully, and her cruel, hateful, and sadistic actions need to be condemned by all people in the strongest of terms.

In my opinion, each and every soulless lump of flesh and bone (the word “person” is not appropriate) involved in this vicious assault on Columbus deserves nothing less than the death penalty. Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Mike Forcia, who led the bigoted attack, was charged with criminal damage to property. However, instead of holding him accountable for his disgusting actions, the district attorney’s office abdicated its responsibilities and “opted for a restorative justice process that involved convening three traditional Peacemaking Talking Circles,” according to the Associated Press.

Peacemaking is not an appropriate response to this situation. By sadistically torturing and murdering Christopher Columbus, these vicious excuses for human beings have declared war on me, on the Italian-American community, and on every person with any sense of decency. Peacemaking is not the appropriate response to those who are deliberately inflicting excruciating pain, attempting to eradicate all cultures other than their own, and destroying everything in the world that makes life worth living. These bullies must be punished, they must be held accountable, and they must be made to pay for the needless and undeserved suffering that they have inflicted.

An additional note on this horrible situation: those who destroy beautiful statues frequently make the argument that they are victims of “oppression” and that the statues somehow represent “oppressors.” This argument is, to use a very technical philosophical term, baloney. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the images of the despicable mob kicking and strangling the Columbus statue. If you choose to pose for photos while kneeling on someone’s neck, you forfeit all right (if you even had such a right to begin with, which is very questionable) to claim that you are oppressed and that the person upon whose neck you are kneeling is somehow your oppressor. This despicable attack on Columbus, as well as the hundreds of similar attacks that have taken place around the country and world, prove that indigenous organizations and the BLM movement are the real oppressors, while Christopher Columbus and the Italian-American community are the ones who are actually oppressed. Someone who kneels on the neck of another culture’s hero is an oppressor, not the other way around.

bookmark_borderThe statue genocide in Delaware

Last June, the city of Wilmington, Delaware cruelly removed two beautiful statues: one depicting Christopher Columbus and the other depicting Caesar Rodney. Intolerant bullies had threatened on social media to destroy the statues, and had also vandalized a memorial to police officers by hacking it with an axe and placing urine-soaked flags on it. Naturally, instead of punishing them, the city decided to give them exactly what they wanted by removing the statues so that the bullies didn’t have to. 

“We cannot erase history, as painful as it may be, but we can certainly discuss history with each other and determine together what we value and what we feel is appropriate to memorialize,” Mayor Michael Purzycki said at the time. “In this period of awakening for our City, State, and country, we should be listening more to each other and building a more just City and a better America.”

I’m not sure how taking away statues makes a city more just or a country better. Having statues of a diverse collection of historical figures is a crucial part of what makes the world a good and beautiful place. Taking this away makes the world a bad and unjust place, the opposite of what the mayor said. Additionally, for everyone to determine together what to memorialize is not the right solution. Not everyone has the same values or the same opinions about who or what is appropriate to memorialize, and if consensus or popular vote is used as the method for deciding, then those with a minority view will end up having no statues that reflect their values. This is unjust and discriminatory, and is the exact opposite of listening to each other. It amounts to telling those with unpopular views, or any views that differ from those of the establishment, that they have no voice and that their feelings and perspectives do not matter. 

According to the same article, Joe Sielski of a group called “It’s Time to Remove the Columbus Statue” said, “I would rather give the City the chance to have mature conversations and do this the polite way instead of just crashing in on the statue with a bunch of hammers.”

These comments are disgraceful. There is nothing “mature” or “polite” about violating the rights of other people or inflicting pain and harm, which is exactly what statue removal does. The fact that Sielski would even mention “crashing in on the statue with a bunch of hammers” as an option is beyond reprehensible. Neither the city nor a mob of protesters with hammers has the right to remove the Columbus statue or the Rodney statue, because doing so violates the rights of people who like those statues. It is horrible that a person would consider himself entitled to demand the removal of a beautiful work of art that brings joy to people’s lives, and to threaten to violently destroy it if he does not get his way. This demonstrates a complete disregard for the rights, feelings, and perspectives of others.

The events in Wilmington were in the news again recently because this month the City Council voted on a non-binding resolution about whether or not to make the statues’ removal permanent. Six members voted to permanently obliterate Columbus and Rodney, one named Nate Field bravely voted against the idea, and six simply voted “present.” Therefore, the resolution did not win majority support and did not pass. 

According to local news station WDEL, Trippi Congo, the City Council President and also a bully and a bigot, “said there’s no decision to be made.” I agree with that statement, but in the opposite way that Congo meant it. Congo continued: “There’s no place for those statues in any public place in our city. They are not heroes. America has never taught true history, so I don’t think we can depend on that happening. If those statues go back up, it’s definitely going to instill mental trauma on our residents.”

These comments are absolutely infuriating. How could someone think that there is no place for a statue of Christopher Columbus or Caesar Rodney in any public place in their city? Having statues of a diverse group of historical figures is crucial for having a world that is worth living in. Therefore, Congo is demanding that the world be stripped of everything that makes life worth living. It is utterly incomprehensible that someone could consider this a good thing.

Also, how dare he state that Columbus and Rodney are not heroes? Columbus came up with a revolutionary idea all on his own and risked his life to do something that had never been done before. Rodney rode overnight through a storm to help America declare its independence from Britain, and also battled cancer. And Trippi Congo, who has never accomplished anything even remotely close to what these two men did, has the audacity, the ignorance, and the disrespect to insult them, flatly stating, as if it is obvious, that they are not heroes. Nothing could not be more wrong. Instead of recognizing these two individuals as human beings with remarkable lives and rich and interesting stories, Congo chose to flippantly condemn them merely because Columbus came to America from Europe and Rodney was born into a family that owned slaves. This is mean-spirited, ignorant, cruel, vicious, stuck-up, arrogant, bigoted, and intolerant.

As for Congo’s claim that restoring the beautiful statues would “instill mental trauma on our residents,” that statement is beyond ridiculous and demonstrates an appalling lack of empathy. Statues are not traumatic; the removal of statues is traumatic. Restoring these statues to their rightful places after they were so brutally and cruelly taken down would provide some small measure of comfort and healing to those who have been hurt. Providing comfort and healing is the opposite of trauma. Congo’s comments are a slap in the fact to me and to all people who were traumatized by the removal of the statues. He is a bully and a bigot, and his comments, like the ones I discussed above, demonstrate a complete disregard for the rights, feelings, and perspectives of other people. 

In conclusion, Mayor Purzycki owes everyone who loves art and history an apology for ordering the removal of the Columbus and Rodney statues, and City Councilor Congo owes us an apology for for his appalling comments. Returning the statues to their original locations is the only acceptable outcome in this situation. Because of the recent City Council vote, there is theoretically some hope that this may happen, but due to the fact that only one councilor voted for this and six voted against it, it seems doubtful. Hearing about these terrible happenings and reading politicians’ comments about them is mentally exhausting, demoralizing, and infuriating. Existing statues must be left alone, and every statue that has been removed must be returned.

bookmark_borderFighting back: Italian-American civil rights lawsuit

Italian-Americans are fighting back against the politically correct bullies’ assault on Christopher Columbus. In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Philadelphia, the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, the 1492 Society, and City Councilmember Mark Squilla are suing Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and his administration for replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, removing a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo, and attempting to remove a statue of Columbus. 

“While both groups’ ethnicity deserve recognition, Mayor Kenney may not take action that discriminates against Italian Americans to exalt another ethnic group in its place,” says the lawsuit, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The canceling of Columbus Day is the most recent — but probably not the last — act in a long line of divisive, anti-Italian American discriminatory actions taken by Mayor Kenney during his Administration.”

“Even if you don’t agree with whether Columbus was a genocidal maniac who started the slave trade or whether he was the first civil rights leader who came to the new world, there still should be a process,” said Squilla.

In a separate, but somewhat related, piece of good news, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is fighting back against Chicago’s removal of Columbus statues. Through a FOIA request, they discovered a contract in which the city’s Park District promised not to make any changes to the statue without the organization’s permission. The city’s decision to remove the statue in the middle of the night seems to blatantly violate this agreement.

“We are hopeful that the Chicago Park District will honor what we feel to be a solid, enforceable contract with us,” said JCCIA President Ron Onesti. “These statues are very important to our community and represent generations of traditions, including the one day of the year that we celebrate our culture on the federal Columbus Day holiday. We know the original intention of removing the statues was one of safety, but that was months ago, and it is time to return them. I look forward to a dialog towards a resolve of the Park District obtaining the statues from the city and putting them back to their original locations.”

bookmark_borderPossible justice for statues in Arizona

In Arizona, there is hope that some semblance of justice may finally be meted out for those who have brutally destroyed statues. State Rep. John Kavanagh introduced a bill that would make it a felony – punishable in some cases by more than 3 years in prison – to damage any statue or monument.

“A statue to somebody, a gravestone of a relative, a statue to an event, is an edifice that either one person or for most of these now an entire community put up,” said Kavanagh. “It’s a statement by the community… and that is what is being desecrated.”

In Arizona, a Confederate memorial at the state capitol building was tragically removed, as was a statue of Jefferson Davis near the Jefferson Davis Highway. 

The AP article on this topic characterizes the statue destroyers as “civil rights protesters,” a characterization with which I strongly disagree. By physically destroying irreplaceable works of art that memorialize people from history, these protesters are not standing up for rights but trampling on the rights of not only the people who love the statues, but also the people whom the statues represent. 

Naturally, these “civil rights protesters” and their ideological allies have expressed opposition to the bill that would represent a small step towards justice. “Instead of targeting the community who want these statues gone, who have watched their ancestors’ perpetrators be admired for centuries, let’s work with them and create an America we all can celebrate,” said Shelby Young of the Arizona Coalition for Change. 

But an America without Confederate statues is not an America that I could ever celebrate. History is my passion, and the Confederacy is a crucial part of that. What I love about history is its diversity. I love to learn about and celebrate people from a wide range of time periods, nationalities, and cultures, with varied ideologies, personalities, and viewpoints. Honoring only one side in a war is not diversity. An America without Confederate statues is an America stripped of its diversity, beauty, and character, a soulless expanse of land with a mindless, conformist populace and no national identity. Watching America turn into such a place breaks my heart, makes my blood boil, and makes me feel sick each and every day. That anyone would consider this an America worthy of celebrating is incomprehensible. To consider this an America that everyone can celebrate is not only incomprehensible but utterly lacking in empathy. 

The destruction of Confederate statues is the destruction of what makes life worth living. Those who destroy statues are trampling on the rights of people who feel differently than they do. These intolerant bullies do not deserve cooperation; they deserve punishment. They deserve to be targeted, because their actions are despicable. 

“A lot of these monuments are ones that have a very bad history and those are the only ones that are being targeted right now,” said Sen. Martin Quezada. “What this does is it further criminalizes the efforts of a community to make a better statement, a counterstatement, to say that we no longer celebrate those types of values. We no longer celebrate slavery, we no longer celebrate veterans of Confederate history. We have multiple monuments in the state of Arizona that do continue to celebrate that, and my preference is that we all join together to tear those things down.”

These comments completely miss the point. What constitutes a “very bad history” is a matter of opinion, as it what constitutes a “better” statement. The claim that “we no longer celebrate those types of values” is bigoted and intolerant. Different people have different values, and that is exactly the way it should be. There is no requirement that everyone celebrate the same values, and the world would be a far worse place if there was such a requirement. To some people, Confederate monuments are a good thing, and the actions of the BLM movement are a step in the wrong direction. Those who destroy Confederate statues are attempting to impose their own values on everyone. They are attempting to eradicate from the earth anything that represents any set of values other than their own. This is bigotry, this is intolerance, this is bullying, and this is trampling on the underdog. These actions demonstrate a complete disregard for the rights of minorities. These efforts deserve to be further criminalized, because they are despicable. 

As for Quezada’s preference that we “all join together to tear those things down”… forgive me if I don’t care one iota what his preference is. Quezada’s preference is that the world be stripped of everything that makes life worth living and that people who love Confederate history be sentenced to a lifetime of heartbreak and agony. And then, adding insult to injury, he has the gall to express his hope that we join together with him to make this happen. Obviously, Quezada does not care a whit about my preferences, so why should I care about his? Call me crazy, but I prefer a world that actually contains goodness, beauty, and diversity, a world in which life is worth living. That’s why I strongly support this bill and pray that it becomes law.

bookmark_borderPeople who destroy statues should not be honored with statues

This summer, intolerant bullies destroyed a statue of Col. John Chivington at the State Capitol building in Denver, Colorado. Native Americans are now advocating that the statue be replaced by one of a Cheyenne woman in a pose of mourning, which would serve as a memorial for the Sand Creek Massacre that Chivington was allegedly involved in.

In my opinion, this is the wrong decision, because it would reward the vandals who destroyed Chivington’s statue. While I am not sure of the identity of the exact people who tore the statue down, the people and organizations who advocated for and praised its destruction are the same ones advocating for the Native American statue to take its place. Those who destroy a statue, or are complicit in its destruction, should not be allowed to dictate its replacement.

The AP article on this topic discusses the “historical trauma” that Native Americans suffered and the “chance to right previous wrongs” that the new statue represents. But the real wrong in this case is the epidemic of brutal destruction that has been perpetrated against countless beautiful, historical statues and monuments. The real trauma is that which has been inflicted on people who love history, people such as myself who have seen nearly everything that makes life worth living destroyed in the span of less than a year. Yes, Native Americans have suffered trauma and unjust treatment, but statue destruction is not the solution to this. Destroying statues inflicts trauma and injustice on the people who love them. And rewarding those who destroy statues sends the message that the trauma and suffering of people like me does not matter.

Plus, there already is a memorial to the Sand Creek Massacre at the location where it took place in southeastern Colorado. It reduces diversity to remove the only statue of Chivington that there is and to replace it with a second memorial to something for which a memorial already exists. The only appropriate replacement for a statue of Chivington is a statue of Chivington. He was not perfect, but he was a human being, and no human being deserves to have their statue brutalized and their memory erased.

bookmark_borderBiased article about statue genocide in Richmond

This article is old but still biased and inaccurate enough to merit blogging about. The article in the Richmond Free Press, from last June, describes the brutal and heartless destruction of a statue of Christopher Columbus and a statue of Williams Carter Wickham as follows:

Decrying police brutality and white supremacy, Richmond protesters have taken an active approach to removing symbols of oppression by pulling statues of Christopher Columbus and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham from their pedestals in public parks.

The Columbus statue in Byrd Park was brought down with ropes, briefly set on fire and dragged into Fountain Lake on Tuesday evening following a protest and march down Arthur Ashe Boulevard led by members of Richmond’s indigenous community.

During a a peaceful protest in Byrd Park, demonstrators reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples.

“We no longer leave behind people in this movement,” said Joseph Rogers, a member of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.

Taking an active approach? That’s an interesting way of describing the brutal and vicious destruction of beautiful works of art that are not yours to destroy.

Additionally, the statues destroyed were not symbols of oppression; they were symbols of freedom, liberty, diversity, independent thinking, and fighting back against authority, all of which are the opposite of oppression.

Furthermore, the author describes the actions in question as a “peaceful protest,” despite the fact that in the previous sentence, the author wrote that the statue of Columbus was brought down with ropes, set on fire, and thrown into a lake. (Just typing those words makes me feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest.) These actions are anything but peaceful.

Plus, the claim that demonstrators “reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples” is blatantly false. Destroying statues is inherently non-inclusive, particularly when those statues represent unpopular minorities, which the Columbus and Wickham ones did. And destroying statues that represent marginalized and oppressed people, as these statues did, is an attack on marginalized and oppressed people, which is the opposite of expressing solidarity with them. So the demonstrators actually did precisely the opposite of what the article characterizes them as doing. The quote by one of the protesters that “we no longer leave behind people in this movement,” is preposterous. This movement, by destroying statues that represent cultures and viewpoints other than their own, is actively attacking and trampling on people who do not think the way they do. That is inherently leaving people out and leaving people behind. The name of the organization is also preposterous: by destroying statues of unpopular minorities, the organization’s members are actively advocating against freedom, justice, and equality.

Later in the article, the author inaccurately describes the events in Charlottesville in 2017 as a “deadly white supremacist rally.” The rally was actually to express opposition to the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, which has nothing to do with white supremacy. Additionally, the rally was not deadly; it was the counter-protest by intolerant bullies that caused violence.

The article also describes Edward Colston, whose statue was viciously destroyed in a similar incident to Columbus, as a “17th century slave trader.” This is an inaccurate characterization. Colston was a merchant. He bought and sold a variety of goods participated in many different industries, of which the slave trade was only one.

Finally, even the article’s headline – “Columbus and Wickham statues come down” is biased. The brutal, vicious, disgusting, and intolerant destruction of statues should never be treated as something even that is remotely acceptable. This headline completely fails to capture the moral wrongness of the actions described within it. Any article needs to characterize the deliberate destruction of statues as the atrocity that it is.

bookmark_borderThe statue genocide in New Hampshire

The statue genocide that has been perpetrated by the Black Lives Matter movement is such a painful topic for me that it is often too difficult for me to read about it. But on occasions when I feel able to do so, I try to research this topic, both for a website that I am working on that memorializes its victims, as well as for the purpose of determining if there are any states in the U.S. that have been untouched by the genocide and therefore are possible places where I could live. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any. When researching the possibility of moving to New Hampshire, I came across an article from the New Hampshire Union Leader outlining the efforts of the politically correct bullies to ruin everything in the state. There are numerous problems with the article and with the people quoted in it, which I will outline below:

First of all, the entire premise of the article is wrong. The author, Shawne Wickham, characterizes the destruction of everything good in the world as a “soul-searching” motivated by learning more about monuments and the historical figures they represent. It is assumed that everything from getting rid of Aunt Jemima from the pancake mix, to taking down a weathervane depicting a Native American at Dartmouth College, to renaming Franklin Pierce University, to renaming the city of Keene, to altering the Hannah Duston Memorial, is a good thing. But these are bad things which eliminate the richness, beauty, and diversity of our world and move us closer to a society in which every person thinks the same and every place looks the same. We should be aiming to add more beautiful, amazing, wonderful, distinctive, glorious, unique, and diverse things to our world, not to eliminate the few existing ones. New Hampshire has never had any statues of Christopher Columbus or of any Confederate generals, and the article presumes that this is a good thing, but it is not. What would actually make the world a better place is to add more Confederate statues and more Columbus statues to our public spaces, but, as is the case with almost all of the media coverage over the past year about the topic of statues, this is not even presented as an option.

A major topic of the article is the statue of Hannah Duston in Boscawen, NH. Duston is a woman who was captured by Native Americans in 1697. The Native Americans killed her baby, and she eventually escaped and killed 10 of them in revenge. University of New Hampshire Professor Meghan Howey and Abenaki leader Denise Pouliot joined forces to “address” the statue (there again is the false assumption that the existence of statues that are at all different, distinctive, or controversial is a problem that needs to be solved, as opposed to a good thing that the world needs more of). Their plan is to create a park called “Unity Park N’dakinna” around the statue, including interpretive signage as well as a statue of an Abenaki family. The project will involve various experts such as artists, historians, and landscape designers, and a statewide fundraising campaign is planned. My question is… what is the point of all this? Without Columbus statues and Confederate statues, the world is not a place worth living in. There is no point in expending resources on any statues, parks, or public spaces until all of the Columbus statues and Confederate statues have been put back up. It is not fair that one group of people gets to design a park that represents their history and values, while other people are forced to live in a world where everything that represents their history and values has been destroyed. It is a slap in the face to read about all the thought, effort, expertise, and money being used to create this park, while I am no longer able to enjoy any parks in my hometown of Boston because they remind me of the fact that the statue of my hero, Christopher Columbus, was brutally beheaded and the city has made no effort to hold the perpetrators accountable. To focus resources on this park, while everything that makes my life worth living has been destroyed, is to tell me that my pain does not matter, that my feelings do not matter, and that my happiness does not matter. It is to tell the Italian-American community and the Confederate community that our lives, and the lives of our ancestors, do not matter.

Another topic of the article is Confederate statues. Ellen Townes-Anderson, a professor at Rutgers, argues in the article that obliterating statues of Confederate leaders does not amount to erasing history, because battlefields, museums, and books still exist and are still available to those who wish to learn. This is true, but what makes Confederate statues so important is not just their educational value but also the fact that Confederate leaders deserve to be honored and glorified. They fought bravely for the cause of individual liberty and self-determination. The existence of beautiful statues honoring deserving people and causes is an essential part of what gives cities, towns, statues, and countries their identities. It is a crucial part of having a world that is worth living in. Elizabeth Dubrulle at the New Hampshire Historical Society argues that Confederate statues are particularly bad because “they did commit treason… Where in the world would you put up statues to people who committed treason?” Anyone who uses the “treason” argument to criticize the Confederacy reveals him/herself to be an authoritarian and a bully. Every person and/or group of people has a fundamental right to leave his/her country and form a new one, and that is exactly what the Confederates fought to be able to do. Anyone who thinks that the Confederates committed “treason” by forming their own country is an authoritarian who tramples on individual rights. Dubrulle also mentions that Confederate statues were allegedly created to promote a racist agenda and that the Confederacy has come to symbolize white supremacy in modern times. But the motivations behind a statue’s creation, as well as people’s perceptions of the statue today, are not the deciding factors in evaluating the statue. What truly matters is who the statue depicts and what that person stood for, which may or may not match up with popular perception.

It’s horrific enough that magnificent statues of Columbus and of Confederate generals have been viciously destroyed across the country, but the ideas suggested by the people quoted in the article – such as renaming the city of Keene because its namesake participated in the slave trade and stripping President Franklin Pierce’s name from a university and law school because he had the audacity to compromise with the South on the issue of slavery – are downright ridiculous. Howey, the professor at UNH, suggests that this new way of looking at history is “much more interesting and nuanced,” but I see it as the opposite. The so-called experts quoted in the article, and many people in general, are essentially attempting to get rid of everything that honors anyone who is not considered 100% perfect according to the social norms of 2021. This makes history, and by extension the world, bland, boring, conformist, and soulless. History has been my passion since I was 10, and there is nothing interesting or appealing about this way of commemorating and studying history. 

Rutgers professor Townes-Anderson says in the article that it feels for the first time “like real change is possible… we have the best chance we’ve had in a long time.” But the change of which she speaks – the eradication of Confederate statues from public spaces – is a negative change, not a positive one. The BLM movement is turning the world from a place that is mostly bad, with a few beautiful and good things still left, to a world that is 100% bad, in which the few remaining beautiful and good things have been destroyed. Media coverage of this topic needs to recognize this. Instead of being presented as something neutral or even positive, the statue genocide must be treated as the horrific injustice that it is.