bookmark_borderThoughts on Lee statue

Lately I’ve been finding it difficult to write about the ongoing destruction of all of the statues and monuments that make our world a worthwhile place in which to live. I certainly do not want to give the impression that I have ceased being outraged and upset about what is happening, for that is the opposite of the truth. Rather, my grief, despair, and rage are so strong that it is not always possible to translate them into words.

The magnificent statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia is scheduled to be dismantled tomorrow. For a year and three months, this work of art has endured disgraceful treatment at the hands of the city and state that ought to venerate both it and the man it represents. The statue has been abused, desecrated, insulted, and covered in profane, racist graffiti with no attempt made to protect, clean, or care for it.

I could go on and on about the devastating psychological impact that these actions have had on me as an autistic person who used to love art and history. I could write about the fact that everything that gives me joy and gives the world beauty and richness has been destroyed. I could criticize the irrational and senseless statements issued by various political figures in praise of these destructive decisions. I could explain how the obliteration of everything honoring the losing side of a war is actually the opposite of diversity and inclusion.

But I am too beaten down and demoralized to do any of that, so instead I am going to share this Facebook post by radio host John Reid:

One of the things that has bothered me the most about the monument situation is the idea that a single sitting board or assembly (presumably elected for a variety of reasons besides being art or social critics) should be able to immediately execute the dismantling of commemorative statuary and art that existed long before they took office.
 
Monuments and immovable art are designed to inspire future generations to examine them- perhaps with admiration but more likely with curiosity and perhaps astonishment and occasionally scorn. The judgement can change as the decades and centuries pass. That’s exactly the point.
 
Reid perfectly explains something that I have always felt: the whole point of statues and monuments is that they are supposed to be permanent. The fact that the majority of people in a community, or the people who hold political power in that community, dislike a statue is no reason to remove it. No generation has the right to destroy the artistic or cultural achievements of previous generations. Statues are not supposed to reflect the viewpoints and ideologies that happen to be popular at the current moment. They are not supposed to change as the predominant values of the society change. If that were the case, there would be no point in building statues at all.
 
Check out his post in its entirety here.

bookmark_borderRacist alderwoman celebrates anti-Italian bigotry

In one of the most disgusting twitter exchanges I have ever seen, a racist bigot decided to insult Italian-Americans, and Chicago Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez expressed her agreement. 

As you can see in the above screenshot (via a pro-Columbus Facebook group that I’m part of), an anonymous Twitter user described participants in an Italian-American unity rally in Chicago as “racist” and threatened to beat them up. Rodriguez, for some reason, decided to respond to this person (I use that term loosely), expressing agreement and declaring her plans to celebrate the anniversary of the removal of Chicago’s Columbus statue.

There are no words in the English language (or any language) that fully capture how despicable this is. 

The anti-Columbus and anti-Italian actions that have occurred over the past 14 months have inflicted enormous pain on Italian-Americans and those who love Columbus. All around the U.S. and in much of the world, society has almost unanimously told us that our feelings do not matter, our perspectives do not matter, our history does not matter, our culture does not matter, our happiness does not matter, and our rights do not matter. The symbols of our heritage have been cruelly destroyed, obliterated, and brutalized. We have been insulted, slandered, bullied, and discriminated against. Again and again, we are told that black lives matter, and that indigenous lives matter, while we are treated as if our lives do not matter. We have no power and no voice; our opinions are given no weight by those who hold positions of power in our society. Night after night, I lie awake crying, my mind tormented by images of Columbus statues being smashed to pieces, set on fire, decapitated, thrown to the ground, kicked in the head, and strangled. Every day I face the reality of living in a world that does not care about people like me, a world that has chosen to take away everything that makes my life worth living and refused to recognize the enormous negative impact that these decisions have caused.

And now, when a group of Italian-Americans bravely decides to stand up against these injustices, they are called racists and threatened with violence. 

And an elected official decides, instead of taking a stand against such reprehensible comments, to agree with them. Instead of expressing solidarity with people who have been harmed and discriminated against, she decides to celebrate this harm and discrimination with a glass of champagne. This is someone who is supposed to be a leader and a role model. 

It is “agitator in chief” and Rodriguez who are truly racist. Their tweets are beyond despicable, and the fact that over 200 people “liked” these tweets is a sad commentary on the state of humanity. I condemn these sentiments in the harshest possible terms.

bookmark_border“Reckoning”

Reckoning. Again and again over the past year-plus, we’ve heard and seen this word: on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, online, and on social media. Everywhere we go, we are bludgeoned over the head with the idea that America is having a long-overdue “racial reckoning.” And now this concept has spread to Canada and Europe, with a plethora of articles alleging that other countries are in need of racial reckonings as well (such as this one, titled “UK faces reckoning after unmarked Indigenous graves discovered in Canada“).

According to Dictionary.com, the word “reckoning” has several meanings, including “the settlement of accounts,” “an accounting, as for things received or done,” and “an appraisal or judgment.” 

The aspect of the current “reckoning” that is most upsetting and objectionable to me is the destruction of statues and monuments. Likenesses of historical figures ranging from Queen Victoria to Robert E. Lee to Christopher Columbus have been beheaded, torn down, lynched, strangled, kicked, set on fire, and otherwise brutalized. The perpetrators of these actions argue that they are advocating for racial equality. But the incessant talk of a needed “reckoning” is based on a false presumption. To characterize the destruction of statues as a reckoning presumes that the existence of the statues is bad. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Having statues of a wide variety of historical figures is crucial for having a world that is worth living in.

Destroying statues inflicts horrible pain on the people who love and appreciate those statues. Given that the word “reckoning” means “the settlement of accounts” or “an accounting, as for things received or done,” using this word implies that people who love and appreciate statues have done something wrong and deserve to be punished. This is completely false. Statues are just as valid and legitimate an interest as movies, trains, dinosaurs, sports, or anything else, for that matter. No one deserves to have his or her object of love and admiration obliterated from the world. Far from being a reckoning, acts of brutality against statues are in reality acts of aggression against innocent people who have done nothing wrong. The participants in the anti-statue movement are not settling up accounts, getting revenge, or getting even with those who have harmed them. They are inflicting harm and pain on people who have done nothing wrong and harmed no one. In other words, this movement is not fighting for racial justice; it is actively inflicting injustice.

Similarly, using the word “reckoning” to mean “an appraisal or judgment” implies that there is something bad about statues and/or the people who love them, something making the statues and/or the people worthy of condemnation and criticism. But it is the people destroying and removing the statues who deserve condemnation and criticism, as they are the ones acting wrongly in this situation. The idea that what is happening is an appraisal or judgment also presumes that the currently prevailing views about race and statues are necessarily correct and that viewpoints from the past are necessarily wrong. According to this presumption, it is a desirable goal to evaluate historical figures using today’s values and to modify our communities’ statues and monuments accordingly. But this way of looking at things is completely false. Views popular today are no more likely to be correct than views unpopular today and/or popular in the past. In fact, the views about race and statues that are dominant in 2020-2021 have inflicted enormous amounts of harm and pain on innocent people and transformed the world from a place that was worth living in to one that is not. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the previously existing statues and monuments. Far from righting a wrong, the removal of statues takes something that was perfectly fine and ruins it.

In conclusion, to use the word “reckoning” to describe the recent trend of vicious attacks on statues is incorrect and unjust. It places blame on the victims of these hurtful actions and lets the perpetrators completely off the hook. The existence of statues of controversial historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Confederate generals is a beautiful thing, not a problem that needs to be reckoned with. The eradication of these statues, whether via violent destruction or peaceful removal, is the real problem. And the perpetrators of these actions, whether protesters or government officials, are the ones who deserve punishment and condemnation. The endless onslaught of statue destruction, as well as the fact that our society has treated this as if it is not a serious problem, is what truly merits a reckoning.

bookmark_borderPremier of Manitoba criticizes statue attacks

Every time a statue is removed or destroyed, it is heartbreaking and infuriating. A recent example of this is the horrific destruction of the statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The statues stood outside the legislature building until July 1, when a mob of people (and I use that term loosely) tore them down and ripped the head off of the Victoria statue and threw it into a river. 

One tiny encouraging piece of news in this horrible situation is that Premier Brian Pallister strongly criticized these despicable actions, as anyone with any soul and any sense of morality would do:

“I want to be very clear: the statues will go back up. The people who came here to this country before it was a country, and since, didn’t come here to destroy anything — they came here to build. There are good and bad aspects to Canada’s heritage, as there are to any country’s heritage.… We’ve had good times and we’ve had bad moments. And Canada Day was one of those bad moments. We need to respect our heritage just as we need to respect one another. Not to find fault. Not to tear down, not to highlight every failure, but rather to realize that we’re a complex country as we are made up of complex people.”

Pallister added, “Nobody who was involved in the destruction of those statues or the damage to the grounds is going to have any place at the table around how we arrive at solutions.” And he called the destructive acts “failures of character on display.” 

That is 100% correct. In fact, to say that the people who destroyed these statues lack character is an understatement. These people are bullies. They are bigots. They have zero tolerance for different cultures, different viewpoints, or anyone who is different from them in any way. They have no regard for other people’s rights or feelings, and only care about themselves. They deserve zero empathy, because they have zero empathy for anyone else. 

This article by CBC demonstrates more sympathy for the statue destroyers than is warranted, in my opinion. The article notes that “many Canadians are grieving over the discovery of hundreds of Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at residential schools across the country.” And the article mentions that the statue destroyers had been participating in an event called the “Every Child Matters” walk.

But what about the grief caused by their actions? Does no one see that for people such as myself who love statues, excruciating and unbearable pain is inflicted each time a statue is removed or destroyed, as the mob of protesters did on July 1? I don’t understand how someone could be “grieving” about something that happened before they were born, but regardless, no amount of grief gives someone the right to rip down a beautiful statue of a remarkable leader from history, desecrate it with hateful graffiti, hack its head off, and throw the head into a river. No amount of grief gives someone the right to inflict grief on another person who did nothing wrong.

Plus, when the protest organizers say that “every child matters,” apparently they are not including children who love statues in this statement. Or children who love learning about history and/or who might admire Queen Elizabeth or Queen Victoria. I am now a grown-up, but this would definitely have described me as a child. People like me, whether young or old, do not matter to the protesters. When they say that every child matters, they mean only children who share their skin color, culture, and ideology.

These actions are not really about children and whether they matter. If they were, instead of destroying statues, the protesters would be doing something to actually commemorate and honor the children who died. These actions are about inflicting pain for the sake of inflicting pain. They are about destruction for the sake of destruction. Regardless of how the children in the graves died (and there is no evidence that they died of anything other than natural causes), their deaths are not Queen Victoria’s fault, they are not Queen Elizabeth’s fault, they are certainly not the statues’ fault, and they are certainly not my fault. Yet statues, and by extension myself, are the ones being punished. 

Naturally, because the premier actually had something reasonable to say on the topic of statues and their destruction, numerous people have criticized him. For example, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said: “Right now, we are in a time when our country is grappling with the disclosure of just how many children died during the attempted destruction of Indigenous cultures and civilizations, so for the premier to say that, it shows that not only is he unaware of Manitoba’s actual history, but he’s also out of touch with our current reality. How can a leader make a comment right now that doesn’t really focus on those children? That should really be the focus of these conversations going forward.”

Actually, Kinew is the one who is out of touch with reality. Of course, it is sad that children died a long time ago. But what has been happening to statues around the world is far more horrific. These protesters, and all those who share their ideology, are inflicting excruciating and unbearable pain on people right now. They are destroying something the entire purpose of which is to be permanent, something that by its very nature should never, ever be destroyed. Destroying statues is not okay. Inflicting excruciating and unbearable pain on other people is not okay. This is what people should truly be outraged about, and this is what needs to be the focus of all conversations going forward. 

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.”