bookmark_borderThanksgiving thoughts

It has been a dark and demoralizing couple of years. The things that I value most – individual rights, liberty, history, tolerance, and diversity – have been under attack in various ways across the country and world. But there are a few signs of hope, indicating that possibly, just maybe, the tide might have begun to turn. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few things that I am thankful for:

The Christopher Columbus statue in Fairfield, NJ

The vicious campaign against Christopher Columbus over the past year and a half has been nothing short of sickening. At the hands of intolerant mobs of protesters and equally intolerant politicians, statues of the brave explorer have been torn down and in some cases violently destroyed, his name has been erased from schools and other places, and his holiday has been obliterated. However, defying this horrible trend, the town of Fairfield, New Jersey unveiled a brand new statue of Columbus on October 9, 2021. The statue, located outside the Hollywood Avenue Recreation Center, was commissioned by the Fairfield chapter of UNICO and was unveiled at a ceremony featuring pro-Columbus speeches by the mayor and other Italian-American leaders. Recent events have been so demoralizing that I believed another Columbus statue would never again be created, and that the only possible outcome was for the number of statues to inevitably decrease bit by bit until it reached zero. The brave decision to create a new statue of Columbus gives me hope. 

Continue reading “Thanksgiving thoughts”

bookmark_borderOn generals, diversity, and real patriotism

On September 11, a new monument called the Generals Bridge and Park was officially unveiled in Quincy, MA. The park contains approximately life-sized statues of three generals from Quincy: General Joseph F. Dunford, General James C. McConville, and General Gordon R. Sullivan. There are bronze busts of four additional generals and stone carvings honoring eleven other generals, all from Quincy, dating back to the Revolutionary War. The sculptures were made by Sergey Eylanbekov, who also sculpted the statues of John Hancock and John Adams at the nearby Hancock-Adams Common.

As someone who used to love history and public art, this is something that the old me would have thought was really cool. I might even have decided to take the T to Quincy to watch the unveiling ceremony and take photos of the statues. But I don’t love history or public art anymore. Over the past year and a half, our society made the decision to destroy the public art that I love most. This destruction has been so hurtful to me that I can no longer enjoy the statues and monuments that still exist. Instead of being awe-inspiring and beautiful, they serve only as reminders of the brutal and unjust losses that have been inflicted. My pain has been made even worse by the decision of Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen to frame the unveiling of the general statues as a fitting complement to the destruction of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, which took place the same week. After reading Cullen’s column, I will forever associate the Generals Bridge and Park with what happened to the Lee statue and with the harm that this action caused.

“In the same week that the biggest monument to an American traitor came down, a new monument to genuine American patriots will be unveiled,” Cullen wrote. “In the same week that a monument in the capital of the Confederacy dedicated to an American traitor, General Robert E. Lee, came tumbling down, Boston is hosting Medal of Honor recipients at their annual convention, and Quincy will unveil a monument honoring military leaders who never dishonored the Constitution. In a year that has tested American constitutional democracy, and as other reckonings take place, real patriots are being recognized and traitors shunned. It’s a monumental, welcome change.”

I could not disagree more strongly with these sentiments. Lee was not a “traitor,” and anyone who calls him one is an authoritarian and a bully with no concept of moral right and wrong. Lee was a genuine American patriot, and he did not “dishonor the Constitution” as Cullen implies, but actually honored it far more than any of the people Cullen cites. The mean-spirited destruction of the Lee statue, as well as the destruction of the statues of countless other historical figures who fought for the Confederacy, has inflicted enormous damage on me and on others who love Confederate history. Cullen chose to respond to this situation by compounding my suffering and rubbing salt in my wounds.

Nothing against Medal of Honor recipients, generals from Quincy, or those lost on 9/11/2001, but Robert E. Lee is more remarkable and more worthy of being honored than any of them. Lee demonstrated true courage by rebelling against a powerful government and fighting for an unpopular cause against overwhelming odds, something that cannot be said of any of those cited by Cullen as allegedly more worthy of celebration. The statue of Lee that the mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia chose to destroy was more beautiful and more glorious than any 9/11 memorial or any statue of a general from Quincy could ever be.

But in today’s America, everything that is beautiful and glorious has been obliterated. Americans used to recognize the fact that rebellion and resistance to authority are virtues that deserve to be celebrated. But now, any historical figure associated with these attributes is condemned as a “traitor” or a “seditionist” and is symbolically murdered by having his name stripped from buildings, streets, and holidays and his statues and monuments torn down, smashed to pieces, urinated upon, kicked, hanged, and/or set on fire. The only personal qualities that are valued are compliance, conformity, and obedience to authority. Everything that is unique or different in any way has been violently destroyed, leaving only the blandest historical figures to be honored with statues and monuments. The art in our public spaces no longer lends distinct identities to cities, towns, and states, nor does it reflect a wide range of cultures or viewpoints. Instead of a country in which a variety of perspectives are embraced, America has become a nation of conformity, in which the majority has imposed its values on everyone else and stifled all dissent. Those with unpopular views, such as myself, are no longer allowed to have anything that we find beautiful, anything that resonates with us, anything that brings us joy, in the public spaces around us. What Cullen characterizes as a “reckoning” is in reality an eradication of diversity. To say that this is a demoralizing, hope-destroying turn of events is an understatement, and it’s despicable that anyone would treat it as something positive to crow about. Contrary to Cullen’s claim, no change could be less welcome.

The Generals Bridge and Park is something that would have brought a smile to the face of my old self, but thanks to Cullen, it is nothing but a painful reminder of all the statues that should be here, but aren’t. Every Confederate statue and Christopher Columbus statue that used to exist should still exist today. Without them, there is no point in creating new public art. Given the horrific events that have taken place, the unveiling of new statues is not an occasion for celebration but an insult to the statues that have been cruelly taken away, the amazing historical figurers that they represent, and the people who love them.

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_borderKorean & Vietnam War statue unveiling in Malden

On May 31, 2021 (Memorial Day), two new statues were unveiled in my hometown of Malden, Massachusetts. The statues, located in Forest Dale Cemetery, represent the veterans of the Korean War and Vietnam War, specifically the soldiers from Malden who lost their lives in these two wars. The ceremony included a concert by the Quantico Marine Corps Band and speeches by Mayor Gary Christenson, various city officials, and Retired U.S. Navy Captain Earl Kishida, a veteran of the Vietnam War. Descendants and relatives of the soldiers physically removed the red and blue coverings, revealing the bronze statues underneath.

Given all of the horrific happenings in the world, it was cool to see new statues come into existence. Below are some photos from the ceremony:

Korean War Memorial statue
Vietnam War Memorial statue
The Quantico Marine Corps Band put on a concert before the ceremony.
Capt. Earl Kishida spoke at the ceremony.
Descendants of the soldiers removed the tarps covering the statues.
After the ceremony, members of the public were able to admire and photograph the statues.

DSC03096.JPG

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_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.