bookmark_borderTrump orders creation of National Garden of American Heroes

President Trump continues to fight back in the war on statues. Yesterday he signed an executive order creating a task force for building and rebuilding monuments and ordering the creation of a statuary park called the National Garden of American Heroes.

The executive order reads as follows:

America owes its present greatness to its past sacrifices. Because the past is always at risk of being forgotten, monuments will always be needed to honor those who came before. Since the time of our founding, Americans have raised monuments to our greatest citizens… In our public parks and plazas, we have erected statues of great Americans who, through acts of wisdom and daring, built and preserved for us a republic of ordered liberty.

These statues are silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal. They preserve the memory of our American story and stir in us a spirit of responsibility for the chapters yet unwritten. These works of art call forth gratitude for the accomplishments and sacrifices of our exceptional fellow citizens who, despite their flaws, placed their virtues, their talents, and their lives in the service of our Nation. These monuments express our noblest ideals: respect for our ancestors, love of freedom, and striving for a more perfect union. They are works of beauty, created as enduring tributes. In preserving them, we show reverence for our past, we dignify our present, and we inspire those who are to come. To build a monument is to ratify our shared national project.

To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance. In recent weeks, in the midst of protests across America, many monuments have been vandalized or destroyed. Some local governments have responded by taking their monuments down. Among others, monuments to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, leaders of the abolitionist movement, the first all-volunteer African-American regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War, and American soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars have been vandalized, destroyed, or removed.

These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn. My Administration will not abide an assault on our collective national memory. In the face of such acts of destruction, it is our responsibility as Americans to stand strong against this violence, and to peacefully transmit our great national story to future generations through newly commissioned monuments to American heroes.

It is not yet clear where the National Garden of American Heroes will be located or when it will open, although Trump’s goal is to have it opened before July 4, 2026. Funding and administrative support for the garden will be provided by the Department of the Interior. The garden will enable the public to enjoy nature, walk among the statues, and learn about history. Trump specifies in his order that the statues should be realistic, as opposed to abstract.

Trump provides the following list of specific people to be included in the garden: “John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Audie Murphy, George S. Patton, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Antonin Scalia, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.”

He also provides the following list of more general categories of people who should be considered for inclusion: “the Founding Fathers, those who fought for the abolition of slavery or participated in the underground railroad, heroes of the United States Armed Forces, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor or Presidential Medal of Freedom, scientists and inventors, entrepreneurs, civil rights leaders, missionaries and religious leaders, pioneers and explorers, police officers and firefighters killed or injured in the line of duty, labor leaders, advocates for the poor and disadvantaged, opponents of national socialism or international socialism, former Presidents of the United States and other elected officials, judges and justices, astronauts, authors, intellectuals, artists, and teachers.”

And importantly, he points out: “None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying.” Amen to that.

In addition to the garden, this executive order also directs funding towards the commissioning of new statues to be installed in cities and towns where statues of historically significant Americans have recently been removed or destroyed.

My only criticism is that no Confederate historical figures are included in the list. Hopefully a few of them will make it into the garden as well. Interestingly, the executive order mentions the possibility that the task force might “encourage and accept the donation or loan of statues by States, localities, civic organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and individuals.” Does this mean that statues that cities and towns have decided to remove might find a new home in the garden? I hope so, because it is a shame for beautiful, magnificent statues to languish in storage instead of being on display where the public can appreciate them.

bookmark_borderFour people charged with attack on Andrew Jackson statue

On Saturday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced that four people were charged with attempting to destroy the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.

Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia allegedly attempted to pry the statue off its base with a wooden board and to pull it down with a yellow strap.

Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C allegedly attempted to pull down the statue.

Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland, allegedly attached a rope to the statue and attempted to pull it down.

Graham, Lloyd, 37, of Maine allegedly attempted to pull the statue down with ropes and broke off and destroyed the wheels of cannons at the base of the statue.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said: “The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated.”

And Acting Chief of the U.S. Park Police Gregory T. Monahan said: “Members of the United States Park Police are working tirelessly to provide quality law enforcement, safeguard lives, protect our national treasures and symbols of democracy, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to its service. We are committed to ensuring that citizens are able to freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe and peaceful manner. The deplorable acts of violence and destruction of property are unacceptable and will continue to be pursued through ongoing collaborative investigations and enforcement efforts.”

Right on! I am heartened that something is being done to punish these disgusting attacks on statues that have been occurring with disturbing frequency. Looking at pictures of mobs trying to destroy the Andrew Jackson statue – such as the one accompanying this article or this article – makes me sick. The statue is magnificent and beautiful. How could someone look at it and want to tear it down? How could someone prefer a world without this statue and other patriotic works of art? The destructive actions of these four individuals, as well as those of countless others over the past few weeks, are morally wrong and incomprehensible. Anyone who intentionally damages a statue in any way, or attempts to damage a statue, or cheers, supports, or encourages the damaging of a statue, deserves to be severely punished.

Now that President Trump has signed an executive order calling for vandalism against statues to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, I hope that more people will be arrested on similar charges for the barbaric acts that have taken place over the past few weeks. Trump’s executive order, issued on Friday, instructs the Department of Justice to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of acts of destruction against statues, memorials, monuments, government property, and religious artwork. The Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003 authorizes sentences of 10 years in prison for these types of vandalism.

In the order, Trump also announced his intent “to withhold Federal support from State and local law enforcement agencies that have failed to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues from destruction or vandalism. Unwillingness to enforce State and local laws in the face of attacks on our history, whether because of sympathy for the extremists behind this violence or some other improper reason, casts doubt on the management of these law enforcement agencies. These law enforcement agencies are not appropriate candidates for limited Federal funds that support State and local police.”

This is a great idea that will hopefully result in more police departments doing their jobs instead of allowing statues to be destroyed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bookmark_borderStatue of Confederate soldier hanged in North Carolina

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

According to the Associated Press:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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