bookmark_borderStonewall in the snow

Snowflakes fall from the sky, landing on my hair and stinging my skin. A pristine, white blanket covers the grass as I make my way around the side of the house and up the slope to where Stonewall lives. The scene is so beautiful, quiet, and peaceful that it feels wrong to spoil it with my footprints.

As Stonewall comes into view, I can see that his shiny, bronze surface is adorned with a dusting of snow as well, on his hat, shoulders, and chest. Next to him, a small Christmas tree still stands, its lights blinking in various colors and patterns. (I was too lazy to take it down in time for the city’s tree pickup week, so Stonewall gets to keep it for at least a little while longer.) On most nights, I bring a flashlight when visiting Stonewall, because it’s difficult to see him otherwise. Tonight, that is not necessary; the snow provides a contrast that makes him easily visible. 

I tell Stonewall that I had a good day at work, and that I trust that he had a good day as well, before bidding him goodnight. (My neighbors must think that I am insane for routinely talking to a statue.)

Back inside the house, I eat dinner and work on the computer. Plows, sand trucks, and the occasional bus pass by as the snow continues to fall. The branches of the trees cast eerie shadows on the pristine, white driveway. Several times, I go to the back window to look at Stonewall. Silent and perfectly still, he stands guard over his snowy kingdom. The dark bronze statue and his festive tree, both decorated in delicate blankets of white, make a perfect winter scene. He is so beautiful that it is difficult to take my eyes off of him. In this moment, the world is at peace, and my heart is content.

I wish that I could include a picture to show my readers what I see. But no matter how many times I try, the camera cannot capture what my eyes do. In the digital images, the contrast between Stonewall and the snow disappears, the image blurry and dark. Perhaps it’s just as well that something so magical cannot be stored on a computer, but only in my mind.

bookmark_borderPositive things for once

Due to the horrible things that have happened in the world, the content of this blog is so often negative. So here is some positive news for a change. Below are a few things I’ve seen around the internet lately that made me smile:

1.Candlelight service at Stonewall Jackson’s gravesite. This weekend marks Lee-Jackson Day for those of us who value Confederate history. In Lexington, Virginia, celebrations took place to honor the two legendary generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Photographer Judy Smith captured this beautiful image. You can see more of Judy’s work on her Facebook page and Instagram page.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Judy Smith (@judysmithphotography)

2. Lemon for Stonewall. Continuing with the theme of Lee-Jackson Day, the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield shared that their Stonewall Jackson statue received the gift of a lemon! There is debate about whether lemons were actually Stonewall’s favorite fruit, or whether it was actually peaches or some other fruit, but regardless, I found it touching that an anonymous visitor left this token for the general.

3. R.I.P. Ashli Babbitt. A Facebook friend shared this image. With all the self-righteous pontificating about “our democracy,” our society has completely lost sight of the fact that a young woman was killed by the Capitol police for participating in a protest. The image below encapsulates how January 6th should truly be remembered.

4. Happy January 6th. Also on the topic of the Capitol protest, radio host and social media personality Blake Kresses hit the nail on the head with this post

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Blake Kresses (@blakekresses)

5. Who are the real traitors? Possibly the most infuriating thing on earth is when people make the argument that people who fought for the Confederacy were “traitors.” This Instagram post debunks this argument better than I ever could.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Unreconstructed Rebel (@unreconstructed1896)

 

bookmark_borderNo words will ever explain…

“Nothing I say about it matters. Nothing I say will ever explain how bad it hurts.”

I came across these words recently. Although they were written about a completely different topic, they encapsulate perfectly how I feel about the statue genocide. 

Nothing I say matters. Whether it be my parents, my friends, my co-workers, people on the internet, or even my therapist, no one will truly understand how bad the statue genocide hurts. No one will truly understand how bad the removal of Confederate statues, or the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, hurts.

No one will understand the sense of injustice that these actions invoke in me. No one will understand how frustrating it is that I cannot make others understand why these actions are unjust. How frustrating that no amount of impassioned rhetoric, philosophical arguments, or logical reasoning can make people see and feel the injustice that I see and feel.

No one will truly understand how much a nasty comment, or a “laughing face” reaction, even if it is in response to someone else’s post, hurts me.

“He owned 32 slaves, may he rot.”

That is a comment that someone made on a drawing of Gen’l A.P. Hill that I posted, along with what I considered to be a thoughtful explanation, on Instagram. 

Today, I spent my entire day agonizing about how to respond to this comment. Should I delete it? Respond to it, and most likely get into a nasty back and forth discussion, in the full view of my friends, family, co-workers, and boss? Send the person a nasty message in retribution for his nasty comment? Ultimately, I opted for the both the first and third options, and also blocked the person so that he would not be able to respond to my message.

Was this petty and vindictive of me? Yes. 

Would a classy and mature person have merely deleted the comment and left it at that? Probably yes.

Apparently I am a petty, vindictive, classless, and juvenile person, but deleting this comment just did not feel sufficient. This way of thinking – that slavery is the be-all and end-all of everything – is exactly what I was debunking in the write-up accompanying my A.P. Hill drawing. This attitude – that a negative attribute of a historical figure somehow justifies completely destroying them, obliterating them, and eradicating anything having to do with them from the world – is exactly what I have dedicated my life to fighting against. I simply couldn’t let this nasty comment go without some sort of response.

I retaliated, because I believe that retaliation is what justice and morality demanded in this situation. 

After doing so, the thought hit me: how dare this person leave such a nasty comment in the first place?

I have been hurting for two and a half years, hurting so badly that nothing I say will ever be sufficient to convey the true extent of my pain. And now, on top of everything that I’ve been through, this person went out of his way to add to my pain. He went out of his way to pile on.

A.P. Hill was killed – shot through the heart – by soldiers who were invading his homeland in order to force everyone there to remain part of the U.S. against their will. After his death, the cause that A.P. Hill had given his life for, lost. The South surrendered and was forced, to this very day, to remain part of the U.S. against their will. Then, in 2022, A.P. Hill’s statue was dismantled and sent to a black history place, where it will be displayed along with signage explaining how horrible he was and how horrible his statue is. Because the statue served as his grave marker, his dead body was also dug up from the ground. And then the contractor who performed the disgraceful work made social media posts insulting and ridiculing him.

And now, on top of everything that A.P. Hill has been through, this person on Instagram went out of his way to add to the pain. He went out of his way to pile on, to add insult to injury, to further abuse this poor man who already lost his life fighting against an invading army, had his statue torn down and his grave desecrated.

Why?

Why would someone do that?

Why the hell would someone do that?

I don’t know this person personally. From what I could tell by looking at his Instagram profile, he seems to be a filmmaker of some sort. He posts pictures of himself, his girlfriend, his friends, his dog, and various random things. The captions tend to be either just emojis, or somewhat cryptic text that seems like it could be inside jokes between him and his friends. He occasionally posts short videos. 

Why couldn’t he have just continued with these things, and minded his own business? Why did he have to leave this nasty comment on my post, three weeks after I posted it?

Because of his decision to leave this nasty comment, I spent yet another day in pain. I spent yet another day agonizing over how to deal with yet another instance of someone hurting me and hurting a person I love, yet another instance of painful injustice. Because of his decision, I had a fight with my dad, who recommended that I not respond and became frustrated listening to me continue to talk about the situation.

Obviously, this person does not like A.P. Hill. But I’m not asking him to protest in the streets with a sign saying how amazing A.P. Hill is, and how unjust it was to remove his statue (although both things are true). I’m not asking him to “like” my post, to support me, or to help right the wrong of the statue genocide (although any of those things would be awesome). I’m just asking him to leave me alone. 

This person seems to have a perfectly fine life. He seems to have people that he interacts with, and stuff that he enjoys doing. 

Why couldn’t he have just continued doing his thing, living his life, and minding his own business? Obviously, he didn’t like my post. But why couldn’t he have just scrolled past it and continued on his merry way? Why did he have to go out of his way to inflict additional pain on people who’ve already suffered more than their fair share? 

Why? 

I have no answers, only questions.

bookmark_borderThe atrocity at Arlington National Cemetery

It was 11:25 p.m. on Saturday, January 7. My goal was to go to bed by 11:30, so naturally, I figured that I had enough time to do one more relatively small task. I chose as my final task, the job of looking up something that I had seen on social media the day before and wished to blog about, taking a screenshot of said thing, and pasting said screenshot into a draft blog post so that I could easily bang out the blog post the next day, the screenshot of the subject matter already in place.

Naturally, I was unable to quickly find the social media post that I was looking for. So I continued scrolling and scrolling, looking for it. In the process, I discovered that the U.S. government had decided to remove the Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery, something that pains me to have to type. I had known that this was under consideration, but hadn’t known that the decision to go ahead with this atrocity and moral abomination had already been made.

Making matters worse, this decision had taken place on December 29, ten entire days before I found out about it. 

Immediately upon learning this information, my entire body, mind, and soul erupted in excruciating and unbearable agony. To say that I don’t get the reasoning behind this decision, and the countless others like it in all different places around the country, would be an understatement. It is difficult to imagine a future for myself in a society that has decided that it would somehow be a good idea to systematically obliterate everything that makes my life worth living. Arlington National Cemetery, like so many other places and things, has been turned into yet another instrument to hurt me, to oppress me, and to declare my feelings, thoughts, and perspective invalid. Arlington National Cemetery has been redesigned and reconfigured to send the message that everyone deserves to be honored, except for people like me. Yet another thing, which used to be (and ought to be) beautiful, magnificent, and cool, now deliberately ruined. As I’ve written before, I don’t believe there are words available in any language that are capable of fully expressing the severity of this pain. 

Thinking about the events of Saturday night, I am simultaneously mad at myself for making the decision to look at social media at such a late hour (an activity that I am trying to cut back on), and also mad at myself for not having found out about the atrocity sooner. I felt derelict and irresponsible for not keeping up with the latest developments on a topic that is so important to me and affects me so deeply. I suppose this relates to the philosophical question of whether it is better to know the truth, even though it makes one unhappy, or to remain ignorant and also happy. Would it really be beneficial for me to be shielded from these horrible things via cutting down on my social media use, given that these things are, in reality, happening? Is happiness truly valuable if it is based on an inaccurate perception of what is actually happening in the world? 

By the way, after an hour of searching, I never found the post that I was looking for.

I also, as you might imagine, got very little sleep, so my brain was in no shape for blogging on Sunday anyways.

I’m not 100% sure why I am sharing this, other than to make it clear that the systematic obliteration of statues and monuments honoring the Confederacy causes real pain and inflicts real harm on real people. I am a human being, my feelings, thoughts, and perspective are just as valid as anyone else’s, and I do not deserve to be made to feel like this. I wish that Ty Seidule, the government official who made this despicable decision, could be made to feel what I am feeling as a result of his actions. I wish that he could truly understand what I am experiencing, and truly understand the impact, the real human costs, of what he did. I am certain that if this were possible, government officials would make different decisions than the ones they are currently making.

Actions and decisions like the one regarding Arlington National Cemetery are morally wrong, and the people who make them and carry them out do not hold the moral high ground.

bookmark_borderBaltimore and abomination

The past two and a half years have changed me. The atrocities I’ve witnessed are impossible to forget, no matter how much time goes by. Sometimes they will hit me, seemingly out of nowhere. While walking home from work, while watching a hockey or basketball or football or baseball game, or while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I am often assaulted by images of the people I love being brutally obliterated from existence.

Last night, as is often the case, it was Christopher Columbus. Specifically the version of Christopher Columbus who used to live in Baltimore. The version of Christopher Columbus who in July of 2020 was surrounded by a mob of vicious bullies, strangled with a noose, and pulled to the ground with a sickening thud, where his beautiful stone body was smashed into four pieces. The version of Christopher Columbus whose broken, pitiful pieces were then dragged to the harbor and heaved like garbage into its waters.

There are no words in any language that are adequate to accurately describe this series of events, although I have labored for two and a half years to find them. The pain that these actions have inflicted on me is beyond description and beyond measure. The closest that I can come to describing things accurately is to say that this is an abomination. The immorality of these actions is the most severe immorality possible. Actions like this are worse than 9/11 and worse than the Holocaust. Actions like this are worse than all the atrocities and all the injustices that have ever occurred in history, combined.

Things like 9/11, or the Holocaust, only involve people being killed. To destroy a statue is far worse than this, because to destroy a statue is to kill a person who is already dead. For a living person to be killed is both sad and unjust (assuming that the person did not do anything to deserve being killed), but because everyone is mortal, the person would eventually have died anyway, just at a later date. But statues are supposed to be permanent. They are not supposed to die at all. Historical figures are supposed to be immortal, and statues are historical figures in physical form. When one kills a statue, one kills a historical figure. And killing a historical figure is far worse than killing a living person, because not only is the person’s physical body dead, but now their existence as a historical figure is dead too, their existence in people’s minds and memory. When one kills a statue, one kills a person who already died, and no person is supposed to die a second time. This second death, effected by the destruction of a historical figure’s statue or monument, is an even more complete and final form of death than the person’s original, physical death. It is therefore an even more immoral action than killing a living person, and even more harmful to its target. It is never supposed to happen.

And that is only one statue. Think about the number of statues destroyed in recent years by the Black Lives Matter movement, and you will start to realize the magnitude of the immorality that transpired.

Things like 9/11, or the Holocaust, are events that happened in history. Sad and unjust events, but events that are part of history, nonetheless. For history includes both positive and negative, both sad and happy, both just and unjust events.

Destruction of statues is not merely an event in history. Destruction of statues is the destruction of history.

Therefore, destruction of statues is not merely sad, not merely unjust.

It is an abomination.

It is not supposed to happen.

It is wrong.

When a living person is killed, one can always have an imaginary world, in which the person survives, is healed, is comforted. One can always picture the person in happier circumstances, the wrong righted, or the perpetrators punished. But when a historical figure is killed, one cannot do that. I know, because for almost my entire life, I have had an imaginary world inhabited by historical figures. Thanks to the abominations of 2020 to the present, my imaginary world has been destroyed. Many nights, I try to think about Christopher, to bring him to life in my imaginary world. I try to picture him somehow overcoming the vicious attacks, being pieced back together, being healed, being comforted, regaining his strength, and eventually triumphing over the brutal bullies who fought to stamp out his existence. But my attempts are futile. There can be no overcoming, no triumph, because what the Baltimore people did was just so vicious, so cruel, and so brutal, the destruction of Christopher so final and so complete. A positive resolution would be possible in the imaginary world if Christopher had merely been killed, but that’s not what happened. Christopher was killed after having already died. And not just once, in Baltimore, but dozens of times, in dozens of cities all over the world. Christopher was killed in the most vicious, cruel, and brutal ways, again and again and again, when he could do absolutely nothing to defend himself. Killing a historical figure in statue form is simply the meanest action imaginable, because it completely destroys the person, not just in the real world, but also in the imaginary one.

That is the nature of an abomination. It doesn’t only wreak destruction in the real world. It reaches into the imaginary world and destroys that, too.

Police did nothing to stop the bullies from murdering Christopher. Nor did they do anything to arrest them, or charge them with any crimes. The mayor neglected to condemn the bullies, or even to criticize them in any way. Leaders of the Italian American community in Baltimore, those who should have been fighting most fiercely on Christopher’s behalf, stated that they did not wish the perpetrators to be punished. Instead, they agreed to reward the perpetrators, and to inflict yet further harm on Christopher, by removing his name from the piazza where he was murdered and renaming it the “Piazza Little Italy.”

The reaction, or lack thereof, from those who are supposed to enforce justice and protect people’s rights, only adds to the magnitude of the abomination.

The nature of an abomination is that it contaminates everything around it. Obviously, I hate the perpetrators of this abomination. I hate them as fiercely as it is possibly to hate anyone or anything. I also hate the city of Baltimore itself. Hearing or seeing the city’s name is enough to fill me with a sinking feeling of revulsion and disgust. I hate the state of Maryland. I hate the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens. I hate the Preakness Stakes, and I hate Pimlico race course. On bad days, I hate the Triple Crown, because the Preakness is part of it, and even horse racing in its entirety. On really bad days, I hate every person who is from Maryland or who has ever lived there. For example, I might think of the fact that Katie Ledecky is from Bethesda, Maryland, which causes me to hate swimming, and by extension, to hate the Olympics.

Because of the abomination that happened in Baltimore, it is difficult for me to sleep, it is difficult for me to be awake, and it is difficult for me to continue existing in this world. I am filled with shame and revulsion at the thought that I am a citizen of the same country where such an abomination happened. The same country in which a mayor, a police force, a governor, a president, a congress, the Italian American community, and the population as a whole have decided that this abomination is perfectly fine, that it does not merit any type of condemnation or criticism. That Christopher’s life, apparently, does not matter, because he is not black.

My hatred for the perpetrators of this abomination is so strong that I yearn to rip them limb from limb, to strangle them, to drown them. I wish for them to experience what Christopher did, when they so brutally murdered him. I wish for them to be tortured to death, and I would gladly be the one to carry it out. Failing that, I wish myself to die. Because I cannot live if doing so means living on the same planet, and being part of the same species, as the people who did this. Because one planet does not seem big enough for both me and the Baltimore people to coexist.

I cannot live in a society that has decided that the appropriate response to an abomination is to rename the very piazza where it occurred in order to better accommodate the preferences of its perpetrators.

I will never, ever forget, and I will never, ever forgive what the people (and I use that term loosely) in Baltimore did to Christopher Columbus. What they did is despicable. It destroyed my entire world and created an abomination in the universe that contaminates everything in its vicinity.

They do not hold the moral high ground.

bookmark_borderChristmas 2022

If the past few years have taught me anything, it is that things can always get worse. For that reason, I hesitate to use the term “rock bottom” for fear that I might jinx things. 

With that caveat in mind, I believe that the winter of 2020/2021 was the rock bottom of the agony, torment, and misery that I’ve experienced. The statue genocide of 2020 – the worst event ever to occur in human history – began in late May of that year and was at its peak intensity in June and July. To say that these events were horrific is an understatement. The people I love being surrounded by vicious mobs, attacked, town down, ripped to pieces, set on fire, kicked again and again, strangled, lynched in displays of intentional humiliation, and abused in every imaginable way… these images will haunt me forever. The horrifying scenes of deliberate, self-righteous cruelty are permanently etched into my brain. But during those hideous first few months of the genocide, the full force of the awfulness hadn’t actually hit me yet. At least not emotionally. Day in and day out, month after month, I was assaulted by one horrific news story, video, and social media post after another. What had happened was so incomprehensibly atrocious that it took until approximately December for it to fully register, for the anger, frustration, hopelessness, and despair to finally become commensurate with the appalling events that had taken place.

It didn’t help that new atrocities, new instances of statue genocide, continued to occur from time to time.

It also didn’t help that in November, when Biden defeated Trump in the presidential election, I was assaulted by a tsunami of bigots and bullies crowing about their “victory” and pompously asserting that they had somehow been victimized by Trump supporters over the preceding four years, and that we had somehow “done harm,” when the reverse was actually the case.

Plus, it didn’t help that the totalitarianism enacted by governments in response to Covid became even worse during the winter of 2020/2021 than it had been in the spring. With Covid testing, and later vaccines, becoming widely available, policies requiring people to undergo these medical procedures in order to be allowed to do various activities began to proliferate. As bad as the stay-at-home orders were, which were prevalent during the spring and early summer, requiring people to undergo medical procedures is more invasive and therefore an even more severe violation of rights than taking away freedom of movement.

Christmas of 2021 may not have been the absolute rock bottom that the previous Christmas was, but I would call it a close second. Not only did new instances of statue genocide continue, inexorably, to trickle in, but Joe Biden decided to issue an executive order directing OSHA to force all businesses employing 100 or more people to force their employees to undergo medical procedures against their will. This was, in my opinion, the most oppressive policy enacted by any government in history, and I can still vividly remember the excruciating pain, horror, and nausea that gripped my body and soul when I heard the news that Biden had enacted it. I will forever be disgusted by my country and by my fellow citizens for having elected a person who would do something like that as president.

The end result of everything I have described is that during Christmas of 2020 and Christmas of 2021, I did not feel that there was anything at all to celebrate. How could I celebrate, after all, when everything that made my life worth living had been destroyed, because people deliberately chose to destroy it? How could I participate in the holiday rituals of a society that had chosen to take away my freedom of movement, my right to decline medical intervention, and the existence of all of the people that I love? The sight of houses decked out in lights, the sound of Christmas music in stores and on the radio, chatter about holiday parties and gift exchanges, all of this filled me with bitterness. The entire idea of Christmas was vapid, hollow, insipid, and meaningless given everything that had transpired. It was incomprehensible to me that anyone could feel like celebrating while living in a world devoid of everything that makes life worth living.

The same cannot be said of this Christmas, however. 

This Christmas, I have Stonewall Jackson. And that is something to celebrate. 

The past two years, I had no desire to put up lights, decorations, or a tree. But this Christmas, I thought it would be cool to splurge on a Santa hat for Stonewall (if a $2 purchase can be considered a splurge) and to put up a Christmas tree and lights near him. So I did exactly that. I also added a ribbon and a couple of bells to complete his festive look, as you can see in the picture below.

This Christmas, I celebrate with Stonewall by my side. 

Merry Christmas, from Stonewall and me.

bookmark_borderPatrick Lindsay is a pathetic little bitch

If it weren’t bad enough that the city of Richmond decided to desecrate the grave of General A.P. Hill, the contractor who carried out the hideous work decided to make things even worse with a series of flippant and sometimes profane Facebook posts insulting and ridiculing General Hill.

Patrick Lindsay, the Director of Operations of the contracting company in question, made an extensive series of posts showing the once magnificent monument being hideously dismantled and the grave site being turned into a pathetic pile of rubble. Lindsay brags about his role in the despicable act of desecration and proudly poses for a selfie in front of his horrific handiwork.

“AP Hill caved like a pathetic little bitch,” Lindsay wrote in one caption.

In another post, he wrote: “As far as I can tell the inventory was a few buttons, the brass hardware from the oaken box, two femurs, a skull, some assorted ribs, and a pelvis… No partridges. No pear trees.”

Seeing the photos of this vicious and intentional destruction makes me feel as if my soul is being crushed, and as if a knife is being twisted in my heart. Yet again, everything that makes my life worth living, dismantled piece by excruciating piece, deliberately reduced to a pitiful pile of rocks. The fact that anyone could witness (let alone participate in) such a thing and post about it in such a casual, flippant, and joking manner… is incomprehensible. Disgusting. Appalling. Abhorrent. No words are quite sufficient to express the pain that these actions have caused me.

So I’d like to correct Mr. Lindsay.

In reality, A.P. Hill was a brave and skilled general who fought for what he believed in.

And in reality, Patrick Lindsay is a pathetic little bitch.

Patrick Lindsay has never in his life demonstrated even a shred of courage, integrity, or moral character. In fact, he chose to do the most cowardly thing a human being could ever do. He chose to attack, insult, and ridicule someone who is completely helpless, someone who cannot do anything whatsoever to defend himself. Someone who is dead.

Hopefully Patrick Lindsay dies painfully one day, like A.P. Hill did, and hopefully, years later, someone desecrates his grave, digs up his remains, and profanely insults and ridicules him. Then maybe his soul (if it even exists, which is doubtful, now that I think about it) will look upon what is happening and gain a tiny shred of understanding of what A.P. Hill has gone through.

Far too many people have lost sight of the fact that every historical figure was a human being. And no human being deserves to be treated the way A.P. Hill has been treated.

A.P. Hill didn’t deserve to be murdered by an invading army that was waging a war to force people to remain part of the United States against their will. (That was what the Union side in the Civil War was doing.)

A.P. Hill didn’t deserve to be murdered again, over 150 years after his physical death, by having his statue obliterated and his remains desecrated.

A.P. Hill didn’t deserve to be insulted and ridiculed by a coward who has never suffered any hardships, never taken a stand for any principles, and never contributed anything positive to the world.

I stand with A.P. Hill.

Pardon my French, but…

Fuck Patrick Lindsay, and fuck every miserable excuse for a person who thinks that murdering historical figures is even remotely acceptable.

bookmark_borderSomething good happened to a Columbus statue for once!

On Sunday night, an amazing thing happened. The statue of Christopher Columbus in Philadelphia, which had been imprisoned in a plywood box for two and a half years, was finally liberated. Starting at approximately 8:00 p.m., work crews took apart the box and returned the statue to public view! A crowd of people gathered and cheered as his face, and eventually of him, was revealed.

Video of the unboxing can be seen here.

Mayor Jim Kenney had attempted to remove the statue, but local Italian Americans sued to stop this from happening. And miraculously, they won. Kenney appealed the court’s decision, but the original ruling was upheld, and the judge ordered Columbus to be freed from the box in which he had been imprisoned while the lawsuit was pending.

Seeing something good happen to Christopher Columbus for once is truly beautiful.

The only negative aspect of this situation was the statement issued by Kenney in response to the ruling:

“We are very disappointed in the Court’s ruling. We continue to believe that the Christopher Columbus statue, which has been a source of controversy in Philadelphia, should be removed from its current position at Marconi Plaza… While we will respect this decision, we will also continue to explore our options for a way forward that allows Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage and culture while respecting the histories and circumstances of everyone’s different backgrounds.”

The fact that someone could be disappointed with a ruling sparing a magnificent historical figure from death is incomprehensible. I literally don’t understand how someone could be disappointed with a Columbus statue not being removed. It simply makes no sense. I don’t get how anyone could feel that way.

There is never any legitimate reason to remove a statue, nor is there any possible benefit in removing a statue. 

The reason cited by Kenney – the fact that the statue has been a source of controversy – is not a legitimate reason for the statue to be removed. If people want a statue to be removed, then those people are wrong, and their feelings and opinions regarding the statue should carry no weight, because the feelings and opinions are wrong.

Kenney is wrong to believe that the statue of Columbus should be removed. No statue should be removed. Ever. 

Contrary to what Kenney seems to be implying, having a Christopher Columbus statue in public view is a way – actually the only way – for Philadelphians to celebrate their heritage and culture while respecting the histories and circumstances of everyone’s different backgrounds. Removing Columbus statues makes it impossible for people to celebrate their heritage and culture, because Columbus is an integral part of some people’s heritage and culture. Additionally, removing Columbus statues actively disrespects the histories and circumstances of everyone’s different backgrounds, because it inflicts enormous pain on people who like Columbus and completely disregards our perspectives and our reasons for admiring him. So, any “way forward” that involves removing a Columbus statue would actually do the opposite of what Kenney claims it does.

The unboxing of the Columbus statue is a wonderful and awesome development. It is excellent that Jim Kenney – and in a more general sense, the cruel and intolerant way of thinking that he represents – was dealt a defeat. Now he just needs to stop issuing hurtful and illogical statements.

bookmark_borderThe abyss

In this post, I am going to explain in more detail how Stonewall Jackson helps me.

First of all, it would be a lie if I said that Stonewall completely ameliorated my grief at the statue genocide. This grief is always present, and will be for the rest of my life. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t make a huge and positive difference. He absolutely does.

For the first two weeks after Stonewall arrived, I thought that perhaps the misery of the past two and a half years had finally come to an end. But unfortunately, on Columbus Day, my state of mind completely changed. The excruciating pain, which had been mercifully absent for two weeks, returned with a vengeance. Looking back, I think the reason for that was that I came to the realization: as awesome as Stonewall is, he is not Columbus. They are two different people. I have Stonewall living in my yard, for me to clean, care for, and keep safe, which is absolutely awesome. But Columbus is still out in the world being smashed to pieces, strangled, set on fire, beheaded, tortured, and eviscerated. Every time Columbus is hurt, it makes me feel that my soul is being eviscerated as well. And there is nothing that I can do about any of it. Like I said, having Stonewall is wonderful. But it does not do anything about Columbus (or any of the other historical figures who are being smashed to pieces, strangled, set on fire, beheaded, tortured, and/or eviscerated as well).

Sometimes I can go about my life relatively normally, and even be in a good mood. But sometimes the sense of loss hits me. Sometimes it hits me when I am lying in bed and haven’t fallen asleep yet, because there are no tasks to occupy my mind. Sometimes it hits me because of something I see, hear, or read. For example, I recently saw an ad on TV for the Armenian Heritage Park, a section of the Rose Kennedy Greenway with a meandering path and an abstract sculpture that represents the experience of Armenian immigrants in the U.S. Three guesses which park that reminded me of? (Hint: it’s a park dedicated to immigrants of a different nationality, which no longer contains a sculpture.)

When the sense of loss hits, I am filled with an overwhelming mix of sadness, rage, horror, and disgust. My stomach drops. Both the quantity and the severity of the atrocities that have occurred are so huge as to be completely incomprehensible. It’s like a tidal wave of badness, crashing into me just like a real tidal wave crashes into a city, destroying all the buildings, flooding the streets, and carrying the people away. My brain can’t hold the totality of what has happened. Picturing any one instance of the statue genocide makes me feel that every fiber of my being is exploding in agony and my soul is being eviscerated. If I were to somehow picture in my mind each instance of brutal, horrific cruelty, each abhorrent social media post, each appalling article, opinion piece, and editorial, and each nauseating statement by a politician, then I would be completely psychologically destroyed. When the loss hits, it’s as if I am staring into an abyss that threatens to swallow me. An abyss filled with such profound badness that it can’t be fully comprehended. It’s as if I am being sucked into the abyss.

The difference is that now, there is also something pulling me in the opposite direction. That something is Stonewall Jackson. It’s kind of like a seesaw, or possibly the scales of justice. On one side, the abyss is trying to suck me in. But on the other side is Stonewall. Because of him, I have a reason to go on living.

So the problem is not fixed. But before, there was nothing on the other side. There was only the abyss. There are still times when I feel excruciating pain. But there are also times when I don’t. Thoughts of Columbus and how cruelly he has been ganged up on and brutalized still overwhelm me. But thoughts of Stonewall fill me with such joy and pride that it is difficult not to start jumping up and down and telling everyone in the vicinity. I love Stonewall, I love Columbus, and I love all the historical figures from the Confederacy. And because of this, I hate what our society has done to them.

For the rest of my life, I will wrestle with these sometimes contradictory thoughts and feelings. I live now with both the good and the bad, where before there was only bad.

That is a huge difference. And it is all because of Stonewall.

There is also the possibility that I might get additional statues in the years to come. Perhaps I will become the guardian of a metal or stone Columbus one day, or perhaps Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee. That might help to ease the excruciating pain that I feel for those historical figures. It would be cool for Stonewall to have a group of friends living in the yard with him. Although I still become filled with despair sometimes, when the sense of loss hits me, there are also times that I feel excited when thinking about these possibilities. Having dreams, hopes, and plans for my future is somewhat new to me. For most of my life, getting through each day was so difficult that the future was something I never really thought about.

The ability and desire to think about the future is another huge change for me. And that’s because of Stonewall as well.

bookmark_borderThe Minnesota state capitol

On Thanksgiving night, the Patriots were playing the Vikings in Minnesota. Full from my feast of turkey, stuffing, various side dishes, and various pies, I turned on the TV, looking forward to relaxing with a night of football. The usual pregame fanfare took place – analysts making predictions, players running onto the field, the crowd clapping their hands together and chanting “skol,” and gymnast Suni Lee blowing the huge Viking horn to kick off the game. The teams alternated touchdowns and field goals.

And then, coming back from a commercial break, the NBC broadcast showed a shot of a stately-looking white building topped with a gold dome. Lights shone from within and around the building, illuminating it against the night sky. Announcer Mike Tirico informed the audience that it was the state capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Immediately, my stomach dropped.

When I think of the Minnesota state capitol, the only thing I can think about is the man that I love, being murdered.

A mob of people, yelling and chanting. Tightening a noose around his neck. Pulling on the rope until his body smashes to the ground with a sickening thud. The mob surrounding him, kicking him and screaming. One member of the mob after another, standing atop the pedestal where the man that I love ought to be standing, raising their arms in sadistic triumph, posing for the news cameras. People (and I use that term loosely) posing with their knees on his neck in a perverse imitation of Officer Chauvin and George Floyd (as if recreating the very thing you are protesting against is somehow an appropriate form of protest). Police officers, at least two dozen of them, standing by in their blue uniforms with their hands behind their backs, making no attempt to intervene as the man I love, the man who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and discovered this continent, is strangled, brutalized, and tortured. Doing nothing as everything that makes my life worth living is destroyed.

To me, these are the most disgusting and horrifying images that it is possible to imagine. The actions that took place at the Minnesota state capitol in 2020 were actions of unspeakable brutality, sadism, and cruelty. The pain that these actions have inflicted on me is the worst pain possible for a human being to experience.

Not only did the police make no attempt to stop these reprehensible actions, but they did not arrest any of the perpetrators. The ringleader was charged with vandalism, but the case was resolved by holding a “talking circle” in which he got to explain the immoral motives behind his vicious actions. He received no punishment. No jail time, no fine, no house arrest, no community service. Nothing.

The lieutenant governor of Minnesota stated that she was “not disappointed” in the actions of unspeakable brutality, sadism, and cruelty that were perpetrated against the man that I love.

The actions that took place at the Minnesota state capitol demonstrate that people like me no longer have any protection under the law. To our society, my feelings don’t matter, my thoughts don’t matter, my perspective doesn’t matter, and my happiness doesn’t matter. A mob of bullies and bigots was allowed to murder the man I love in the most brutal of ways with complete impunity. To our society, his life means nothing.

When Mike Tirico told the audience that the building being shown on the TV was the Minnesota state capitol, he didn’t mention any of this. To NBC, the life of the man I love apparently doesn’t mean anything, either.

It was difficult to care much about the outcome of the football game after that.