bookmark_borderNo, hateful vandalism is not understandable

On Columbus Day, among numerous acts of hate and destruction that took place around the world, someone vandalized a cemetery in Middletown, Connecticut. This horrible excuse for a human being wrote profane graffiti about Christopher Columbus and about cops, as well as the phrase “land back.”

According to this article by the local NBC station, “Some people who spoke with NBC Connecticut say they don’t support the vandalism but sympathize with the sentiment.” For example, one person said, “I can understand where the anger and frustration are coming from,” and another person said, “I understand the anger and the vitriol that people have.”

Sentiments like these have been very common during the statue genocide of the past year and half. These sentiments are, frankly, unacceptable. 

Vandalizing a cemetery or church, destroying a statue or monument, scrawling expletives to insult a historical figure… all of these actions are cruel, hurtful, and morally wrong. It’s as simple as that. People who commit actions like these are bullies and bigots. They are motivated by intolerance and hatred of people who are different than them. They have nothing to be angry about, nothing to be frustrated about, and nothing to feel vitriol about. No one should sympathize with their sentiments. 

When the Oklahoma City bombing, or the Boston Marathon bombing, or 9/11 happened, did anyone say, “that was the wrong way to go about it, but I understand the sentiments?” 

No, they did not.

If a predominantly black church or a statue of a black person was vandalized, would people say, “I don’t condone vandalism, but I understand the anger and frustration?” 

No, they would not.

Yet when the victim of a vicious act of hate is a historical figure of European descent, the hate is somehow understandable. 

Every time a statue, monument, memorial, church, or cemetery is vandalized, the action needs to be condemned fully and wholeheartedly, not partially and with qualifications. Neither these actions nor the motivation behind them deserve anyone’s sympathy or understanding. 

bookmark_borderCAIR’s hypocrisy on vandalism

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

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

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

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

bookmark_borderCuomo stands with Columbus & Italian-American community

I don’t agree with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on many things, and I have even criticized him on this blog. But I wholeheartedly agree with his statement on a recent disgraceful act of vandalism perpetrated against a Christopher Columbus statue. Cuomo’s statement can be found at this link or as follows: 

I was disgusted to learn of the offensive, vulgar graffiti that was found spray painted on the Columbus Monument in Manhattan recently, a source of pride for the Italian American community for 130 years.

When New Yorkers encounter acts of hate, we don’t remain silent. One attack on any culture is an attack on all cultures, and we will stand united in condemning all acts of bigotry and intolerance.

I am directing the State Police hate crimes task force to provide the NYPD with assistance in its investigation and to hold the criminal responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

I am pleasantly surprised that Cuomo chose to stand with Columbus and the Italian-American community instead of with the vandals, as many politicians have done when similar acts of vandalism have taken place. This was indeed an act of bigotry and intolerance, and it is encouraging that this is being investigated as a hate crime. Thank you Cuomo for defending a historical figure who has been under constant, vicious assault and for providing a small measure of comfort to a community that has really been hurting.

bookmark_borderBLM activists threaten to turn memorial chair into toilet

One of the arguments frequently made by the intolerant bullies who oppose Confederate monuments is that battlefields, museums, and cemeteries are more appropriate locations for these statues than city parks and town squares. But now, the existence of anything Confederate-related, regardless of location, has become intolerable for BLM supporters. A group of them stole a Jefferson Davis memorial chair from a private section of the Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama. These idiots sent a letter to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, telling them that they would turn the chair into a toilet unless the organization displayed a banner with a quote by black supremacist terrorist Assata Shakur, who murdered a police officer. 

“The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives,” the banner read. Fortunately, the UDC did not display it, and police managed to recover the chair unharmed. Stanley Warnick, Kathryn Diionno, and Stanley Pate were charged with the theft. 

The thieves explained their actions as follows: “The common thread between now and then is the criminal justice system. That’s where the racial caste system is preserved today, much like these monuments. Why did we steal a chair? To make a point. To redirect the conversation back to what matters, people, not property.”

These statements make no sense. First of all, I’m not sure what any alleged racial caste system has to do with Confederate monuments. Second, the BLM movement and those who share their politically correct, intolerant way of thinking are the rulers of this country, while those who support the Confederacy are an unpopular minority with no power, so the vandals have that completely backwards. Additionally, statues and monuments are what matters, yet they are being treated as if they are completely worthless, so the vandals have that completely backwards as well. Technically, memorials are property, but they are essential parts of a world in which life is worth living. Without beautiful statues and monuments honoring a wide range of viewpoints and causes, the world is dull, bland, and empty and there is no point in people being alive. Statues and monuments are also the physical representations of now-dead historical figures, and harming them is an attack on those heroes’ lives and legacies, just as harming a living person is an attack on that person. Historical statues and artifacts are what matters, they are what it is important, and they are what the conversation should be about. They deserve far more respect and protection than they have been given.

Comments on Twitter about this unfortunate incident are, as usual, infuriating:

In the one instance in which someone actually made a reasonable comment, another individual, apparently thinking he/she was being clever, made a completely nonsensical reference to Mein Kampf. What does Hitler’s autobiography / manifesto have to do with a memorial chair to Jefferson Davis? 

Also, they did nothing wrong? Seriously? The thieves most definitely did so something wrong.

As for the call to get the sledgehammer… really? The fact that someone would take delight in the prospect of a historical artifact being smashed to pieces with a sledgehammer is beyond reprehensible. I cannot understand how someone could be so filled with hate and cruelty that he/she would demand the violent destruction of another person’s property that is located on private land and not hurting anyone, merely because it is related to the Confederacy.

These people, and their vicious hatred for anyone who is different from them, are sickening. 

bookmark_borderIndiana legislature passes bill to protect statues

New protections for statues may be coming in Indiana. The General Assembly passed a bill that directs the state police to investigate and prosecute people who destroy or vandalize “a private or government monument, memorial, statue or other commemorative property” and allows the state government to withhold funding from cities and towns that fail to stop these crimes. 

State Senator Eric Koch, who sponsored the bill, said: “This summer we all watched with disdain and grief attacks that were made around the country on historic monuments, memorials and statues by rioters and angry mobs – in many cases where the leaders of those communities instructed law enforcement to stand down – and in essence, let it happen. This bill is brought to address that situation going forward.”

In Indianapolis, for example, BLM supporters damaged approximately 80% of the city’s war memorials, including the large Soldiers and Sailors Monument, in a senseless destruction-fest over the weekend of May 29-31, 2020. According to the Shelbyville News, “police officers who were on the scene that weekend have said they were told to move away from the protesters, and then were told to stay away from them, and to stay in their cars.” Under the new bill, cities and towns could face financial penalties for giving cops such instructions. 

This bill is a small step in the right direction, and all states should follow suit. But naturally, there are those who object to even this modest step to protect statues. According to the article, State Senator Greg Taylor complained that the bill “focuses on protecting property, and not people.” This simplistic viewpoint disrespects the importance of statues to the people who love them. A statue is not just property; it is the physical manifestation of a historical figure. To destroy a statue is to destroy the memory and the legacy of a person from history. This is just as bad as physically harming a living person, if not worse. Additionally, for people like myself who love history, the destruction of statues inflicts enormous emotional harm, and emotional harm is just as bad as physical harm, if not worse. Therefore, this bill is very much needed, and the objections from the politically correct crowd are unfounded.

bookmark_borderSilent Sam: UNC Chapel Hill’s destroyed Confederate statue

The amount of destruction of historic statues that has taken place over the past months and years has been absolutely overwhelming. As a result, I admittedly haven’t been able to read and absorb all of the news as it’s been happening. As painful as it is, I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks catching up on old news stories about various incidents of statue vandalism and removal. One article that I came across is about Silent Sam, a Confederate statue that called University of North Carolina Chapel Hill home until August 20, 2018, when he was destroyed by protesters. As with all acts of destruction committed against statues, I condemn this despicable action in the strongest possible terms.

In the article, history professor Anne Bailey describes Silent Sam as a “powerful symbol of white supremacy” and “a divisive symbol of white supremacy” who “was meant to pay tribute to those who wanted to maintain slavery.” She also writes that “Confederate statues, therefore, represent a step backwards – a symbol of what the United States once was – not what it is now.”

In my opinion, Confederate statues are not symbols of white supremacy; they are simply symbols of the Confederacy, a short-lived nation that, like all nations, had various attributes, some admirable and some less so. And representing a step backwards is not necessarily a bad thing; there’s no reason why the way the country used to be is necessarily inferior to the way the country is today. (The pervasiveness and widespread acceptance of attacks on statues such as Silent Sam weighs heavily in favor of the argument that the U.S. was a better place in the past than it is now.)

As for the claim about being divisive, those who use this term seem to be assuming that it’s a bad thing to display any kind of symbol that is liked by some people and not others; in other words that only universally liked symbols should be displayed. But this is a recipe for a uniform, bland, sterile, conformist society containing nothing interesting or distinctive and no diversity. Not every monument or memorial, not every piece of public art is going to be liked by everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why tearing down statues is so wrong. Perpetrators claim to be carrying out this destruction in the name of diversity and inclusion, but what they are doing is contrary to these ideals. Destroying works of art because you do not like them violates the rights of those who do and demonstrates a complete disregard for their preferences and viewpoints.

Bailey also writes:

Today, the nation is experiencing what some call a civil war over statues. The only way to avert this new civil war – in some ways a symbolic one over the outcome of the original Civil War – is to have dialogue. And after dialogue, actions must follow. It could be that protesters who toppled Silent Sam acted out of a sense that dialogue had reached a standstill after years of debate. Communities may decide to take the statues down or replace them with monuments that honor abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, William H. Seward or Thaddeus Stephens. They may also choose to keep the Confederate statues intact with a plaque that gives a more balanced view of the causes of the war.

While dialogue is always a good thing, Bailey seems to be assuming that the only options to be discussed are getting rid of Confederate statues or adding plaques that profess a negative view towards the Confederacy (Bailey’s idea of a more balanced view of the causes of the war isn’t necessarily everyone’s). The option of leaving the statues completely as they are isn’t mentioned, let alone the option of adding more Confederate statues in places that do not currently have them. In this way, Bailey is presuming the truth of what she is trying to prove, namely that Confederate statues are bad. The idea that someone might consider the statues just fine as they are, or even want new ones to be built, isn’t even acknowledged as a possibility.

bookmark_borderJustice for Father Serra

An iota of good news from San Rafael, California: five despicable human beings are actually being held accountable for their decision to trespass on a Catholic church’s property and destroy a statue of Father Junipero Serra.

On Columbus Day, a group of intolerant bullies held a protest at the Mission San Rafael (I didn’t hear about this when it happened because I was too busy battling with people who were making insulting comments on my social media post about Christopher Columbus). Five of them attacked the statue, ripping off the duct tape that church employees had placed to protect it, spraying red paint all over it, writing the words “genocide” and “rape” on its pedestal, chipping at it with rocks, attaching ropes to it, and pulling it down. Police arrested these five bullies and charged them with felony vandalism. They submitted the case to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office and recommended additional charges of vandalism to a place of worship, which is a hate crime. The defendants’ names are as follows:

  • Ines Shiam Gardilcic, 40, of Oakland
  • Victoria Eva Montanopena, 29, of Oakland
  • Melissa Aguilar, 36, of Novato
  • Mayorgi Nadeska Delgadillo, 36, of San Rafael
  • Moira Cribben Van de Walker, 25, of San Anselmo

The San Francisco Archdiocese took a strong stance in defense of the statue and the Catholic community and urged the D.A. to prosecute the vandals to the fullest extent of the law. “This attack on a cherished religious symbol on our own church property is not a minor property crime, but an attack on Catholics as a people,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. “If the perpetrators of this crime are not brought to justice, small mobs will be able to decide what religious symbols all people of faith may display on their own property to further their faith, and they will continue to inflict considerable spiritual suffering on ordinary Catholic people who would see our sacred spaces as unprotected by law.” 

Protesters also demonstrated outside the D.A.’s office with signs reading “Save Our Statues” and “Vandalism is a Crime.” 

As a result of these efforts, D.A. Lori Frugoli announced on November 13 that she was bringing felony vandalism charges against the five defendants. 

Cordileone praised this decision, noting that it “represents the first time that any of the lawbreakers attacking statues of St. Junipero Serra and other acts of vandalism on Catholic Church property across California will be held accountable for their actions in a court of law.” He continued:

“The crime was caught on video. The lawbreakers came prepared with ropes, chisels and spray paint, clearly indicating forethought in committing this crime. If crimes like these are not punished, then the government is telling mobs they get to decide what symbols Catholics and other faiths may display. Given that this was vandalism at a house of worship, the San Rafael Police Department understandably recommended that the perpetrators be charged with a hate crime. Indeed, to vandalize a house of worship to express one’s views is not a mere property crime: it is an attack on the identity and rights of a whole faith community. In a diverse society we may debate and disagree about many things, including St. Junipero Serra’s legacy. But mobs do not get to trespass on other people’s holy grounds to destroy their sacred symbols. While a hate crime was not charged in this case, let us hope that this prosecution will nonetheless contribute to putting an end to attacks on all houses of worship.”

Father Luello Palacpac, the pastor of Mission San Rafael, described the act of vandalism as traumatic for his congregants and added, “Whether you agree or disagree with the historic record of St. Junipero, no one has a right to trespass on a faith community’s sacred grounds to destroy property and even more importantly the symbols of its faith.”

The San Rafael Police Department justifiably faced some criticism for the fact that officers made no attempt to actually stop the vandals from attacking the statue. According to the Marin Independent Journal, Police Chief Diana Bishop said, “It’s not last year. It’s not the year before, how police officers see something and they just run into it and take care of it. That’s how we are programmed. That’s what we want to do. We have to be more thoughtful when a property crime is occurring and a person is not being injured, and that’s what the plan was.” It would have been better if police had intervened to protect this statue before it was destroyed; in my opinion it is just as bad (if not worse) for a statue to be injured as for a person to be injured. But the police department is to be commended for charging the vandals. Far too many times, intolerant bullies have cruelly destroyed irreplaceable statues all over the world and faced no consequences whatsoever for their despicable behavior. 

Continue reading “Justice for Father Serra”

bookmark_borderThere are no words…

Repugnant. Repulsive. Despicable. Sickening. Reprehensible. Disgusting. Disgraceful. Abhorrent. Evil. None of these words, or any words available in the English language or any other language for that matter, even come close to accurately describing the act depicted in this video:

Protesters smash Confederate statue in Portsmouth VA | Charlotte Observer

This took place during what is described as a “remove the stain” protest in Portsmouth, Virginia on June 10, 2020. Characterizing another group’s ideology and/or heritage as a “stain” is itself the very essence of bigotry and intolerance, which says a lot about this despicable movement and the people who support it. 

The act depicted in the video is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life. I nearly threw up upon watching it. How someone could do this to an innocent statue, that did nothing wrong, that was bothering no one, and that was painstakingly sculpted by a talented artist, is utterly incomprehensible. It is beyond dismaying that so many people, and society as a whole, unquestioningly support and embrace a movement whose members do this. Nothing justifies this. I don’t care if your ancestors were kept as slaves in the most brutal conditions imaginable; I don’t care if every member of your family was murdered by cops; I don’t care how much discrimination you’ve experienced in your life; nothing makes it okay to do this. Nothing. 

The video of what happened to George Floyd is nowhere near being even a tenth as horrible as this. If you added together all the incidents of people being killed by cops from the very beginning of this country through today, it wouldn’t come anywhere close to the awfulness and brutality of what was done to this statue. There is no punishment that is even close to being commensurate with this crime. The death penalty is not harsh enough. Any person who participated in this act of destruction, cheered for it, or expressed support for it in any way, is a bully, an authoritarian, and a bigot who deserves a slow, torturous death. There is no place for actions like this anywhere on this earth, and I am ashamed to live in a country where actions like this are allowed to happen. I condemn this in the strongest possible terms. 

bookmark_borderPortland’s intolerant “Day of Rage”

On Sunday, the day before Columbus Day, about 300 evil excuses for human beings held what they described as a “Day of Rage” in Portland, Oregon to protest against the Italian explorer. Disgustingly, they tore down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, fired bullets through the window of a restaurant, and smashed the windows of numerous buildings, including restaurants, a jewelry store, a bank, and a coffee shop. They also attempted to burn down the Oregon Historical Society, breaking windows and throwing flares inside, and stole and damaged a historic quilt made by 15 African-American women to celebrate America’s bicentennial. 

According to CNN, flyers for the Day of Rage warned that photography and videography would not be allowed. Apparently whoever organized this event is unaware that in America, there is this thing called the First Amendment. In addition to providing evidence that the protesters intended to commit criminal actions, it is obnoxious that someone would believe they have the right to tell other people that they are not allowed to take photos or videos in public places.

At least two people have been arrested to far, according to local news station KGW. Brandon Bartells, 38, of Pasco, Washington was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and riot for tearing down the Roosevelt statue. He allegedly chained his van to the statue and used the vehicle to pull it down. Malik Fard Muhamad, 23, of Indiana was charged with first-degree criminal mischief, riot, and unlawful possession of a firearm. He allegedly smashed the windows of the Historical Society and other buildings with a metal baton.

According to journalist Andy Ngo, one of the rioters, Amanda Siebe, is running for Congress. “It was so f***ing wet tonight,” she tweeted. “But still, we brought down 2 statues. It was an amazing thing to see those statues fall!” The prospect that someone who thinks like this and writes publicly in such an unprofessional manner might hold public office is disturbing. 

Ngo also reported that the restaurant that was shot at, Heroes American Cafe, was targeted because it was decorated with photos of first responders.

The City of Portland said that the damage to the statues will cost $30,000 to repair. This is after rioters already destroyed statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and an elk in the same city.

District Attorney Mike Schmidt called this weekend’s vandalism “sickening,” “inexcusable,” and “without purpose and justification.”

I could not agree more. I condemn these destructive actions in the strongest of terms. Contrary to the sentiments expressed by congressional candidate Amanda Siebe, the destruction of statues is the exact opposite of “amazing.” It is repugnant and despicable. The fact that someone would deliberately pull down a beautiful, magnificent piece of art, and then be happy about this accomplishment, is completely incomprehensible. Every time a monument is torn down, my soul feels like it has been stabbed. Every loss of a statue makes the world a worse place. How could someone do such a thing or express joy about it?

It is also completely illogical that supporters of Antifa and Black Lives Matter would have such a thing as a “Day of Rage.” Those who support these movements have absolutely nothing to be angry about. They have gotten their way on everything. All four major sports leagues and countless celebrities vigorously support their movement. Any person or institution that dares to express dissenting views is immediately condemned, boycotted, and/or fired. Members of these movements have already destroyed hundreds upon hundreds of businesses, buildings, and priceless statues, as well as assaulting and killing innocent people. They have succeeded in causing the Confederate States of America and its iconography to be almost completely obliterated from our society, Christopher Columbus to be slandered as a mass murderer and his holiday replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day in many states, and even founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to become controversial.

It is those on the opposite side – those who admire the Confederacy and/or Columbus and/or the founding fathers – who have the right to be enraged. Our statues have been brutally destroyed and our culture and history mercilessly attacked. And now, bizarrely, those who have been trampling on our rights have the audacity to claim to be “enraged” by us, the people on whom they have been trampling. The “Day of Rage” participants and all those who share their beliefs are bullies with no tolerance for any cultures, opinions, or values other than their own. Christopher Columbus is a hero and a cultural symbol to many Italian-Americans, including myself. To hold an event whose sole purpose is to demonstrate rage towards a holiday that celebrates Italian heritage is an act of bigotry. Everyone who participated in this event deserves to be charged with a hate crime. 

bookmark_borderUpdate on Christopher Columbus statue

After being brutally decapitated, Boston’s Christopher Columbus statue will have a new home. On Monday, according to Boston.com, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that Columbus will be moving to an affordable housing development that is being built in the North End by (appropriately) the Knights of Columbus.

“It will be visible for everyone who wants to see it,” said Walsh. “It will still be an important part of the fabric of the neighborhood.”

Ever since the disgraceful act of vandalism took place in June as Black Lives Matter protests were gathering steam around the country, the statue has been in a city storage facility being repaired. Sadly, it will be impossible to completely return the statue to its former condition; the head was broken into multiple pieces and signs of the damage will still be visible even once the pieces are put back together. But once the repairs are complete, the statue will be turned over to the Knights of Columbus for placement in its new home. 

I would have preferred the statue to return to its old home in Christopher Columbus Park. This beautiful park, with a trellis, many types of flowers, and a beautiful view of the ocean, is situated at the edge of the North End, Boston’s Italian neighborhood. The Columbus statue was a perfect symbol of Italian-American heritage, welcoming visitors to the North End. But at least the statue will still be publicly displayed, just in a less prominent place than before. And, as Frank Mazzaglia, chairman of the Italian American Alliance, pointed out, even supporters of the statue had concerns about returning it to the park because of the likelihood of future vandalism.

Christopher Columbus Park in happier days

“Vandalism and destruction in our neighborhood is never okay,” said Mayor Walsh. But it’s difficult not to see the decision to relocate the statue as contradicting these sentiments. If vandalism is not okay, it shouldn’t be allowed to decide the fate of the statue. If vandalism is not okay, the city should not reward the vandal(s) by giving them what they want, namely the removal of the statue from the park. I am looking forward to going to see Columbus in his new home… but it still does not sit right that the city of Boston essentially gave in to the bullies instead of standing up to them. As a proud Italian-American who loves history, I will no longer feel welcome in the waterfront park knowing that a hateful, intolerant, and despicable bully was allowed to erase my heritage.