bookmark_borderPhotos and videos from Lee-Jackson Day

This past weekend was Lee-Jackson Day, the holiday honoring Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson!

One day, I would love to go to the celebrations in Lexington, Virginia honoring these two amazing heroes. But because I live too far away for that to be practical, I enjoyed looking at the photos and videos on social media. The celebration of Lee-Jackson Day confirms to me that there are still some people who believe in honoring heroes and doing what is right.

I also thought this would be a good time to introduce my new project: The Historical Heroes Blog.

There, you can check out photos and videos from the ceremony at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, parade, and flag ceremony at Lee-Jackson Park, to give just a few examples.

This new blog will be dedicated to sharing content that I find around the internet about my favorite historical figures – art, quotes, statues, birthdays, holidays, events, news, and more. Unlike the content on this blog, the content on the new blog will focus solely on the positive. Given the horrific events of the past few years, positivity is a concept that often seems elusive. For the first two years of the statue genocide, it was almost entirely absent. But gradually, I have become able, through various avenues, to find small glimmers of hope that make me smile. Not by moving on from the historical figures whom I love, but by celebrating them and honoring them and incorporating them into my life as much as I can. (I wrote more about this concept in my post about Christmas and New Year’s). It is the desire to collect these glimmers of hope, of beauty, of goodness, that gave rise to the creation of the new blog. In the darkest days of the statue genocide, the idea of creating such a blog didn’t occur to me, because I assumed it would be impossible to find suitable content for one. Everything relating to historical figures was dark, sickening, horrifying, and negative. But the idea for the new blog began to take shape in my mind last year, and shortly after the new year I finally launched it. I am hopeful that the new blog will be a place for hope, beauty, and goodness, and a place to celebrate and honor historical figures, for years to come.

I will continue this blog as well, as a place to share my opinions, thoughts, and experiences about the things going on in the world. Over the years, this blog has undergone many transformations. At first, I pretty much stuck to sharing my opinions about current events, with a little bit of sports stuff and a little bit of history stuff thrown in. When I became interested in watching high-profile trials, my first-hand reports from the trials that I attended became the primary focus of the blog. Then the blog went relatively dormant for a while, when I lacked the time, energy, and inspiration to update it. Over the past few years, the horrible things happening to historical figures affected me so deeply that my writings became centered around this subject and the personal impact that it had on me. Recently, I’ve spent more time thinking about my identity as a person on the autism spectrum and how this is intertwined with the statues. I feel that my autism, my imaginary world, and my love of historical figures are strongly connected. Given that the majority of autistic voices seem to express political beliefs that are the opposite of mine, I feel that I have a perspective that is unique and different and therefore important to share. In the future, I plan to write more about my personal experiences with autism and mental health, as well as statues, historical figures, individual rights, and anything else that I have a strong opinion on.

As always, thank you for reading.

bookmark_borderAtrocity

Disgusting.

Cruel.

Vicious.

Intolerant.

Immoral.

Heartbreaking.

Again and again I’ve tried to find words adequate to describe actions like the ones that took place in Charlottesville today, and again and again the English language comes up short.

Acts like these have taken place so many times over the past three and a half hellish years that I cannot keep track, my brain cannot comprehend the overwhelming magnitude of what has happened.

Yet again, the winning side of the war decides, for some inexplicable reason, to beat up on the losing side.

Yet again, the strong, powerful establishment decides to torment the rebels, the dissenters, the underdogs, all while preposterously claiming that they are somehow disadvantaged and oppressed.

One meager statue representing human diversity, representing dissent, representing being different from the norm, amidst a sea of essentially identical statues all representing mindless conformity, deemed unacceptable in their eyes.

Having relentlessly criticized my clothes, my hair, my shoes, my socks, ridiculed the way that I speak, bullied me because I like different music and movies and books than they do, none of that was enough for them. My special interest – the one thing that makes my life worth living – had to be destroyed too, the public spaces of our country redesigned to ensure that I receive the message that I am hated, that I am unacceptable, that I am sick and deviant, that I am not welcome to exist.

I am deemed unworthy of even a single work of public art making me feel accepted, making me feel included.

Yet again my body, mind, and soul are consumed by agonizing, unbearable pain.

There are no words that can fully convey how much I hate the people – and I use that word loosely – who did this.

They do not hold the moral high ground.

They forfeited any claim to it a long time ago.

They deserve the most severe punishment possible.

But even that would not be enough, because no punishment could possibly be as severe as the punishment that they have inflicted on me – an innocent person who has done nothing wrong – through their actions.

bookmark_borderThoughts on the destruction of Traveller’s gravesite

For the past three days, it has been difficult to go on. 

Yet again, pain courses through my body. Yet again, my soul feels as if it is being eviscerated. Yet again, my stomach is sick. Yet again, I don’t see the point in living. Yet again, I am filled with such anguish, rage, and grief that I cannot find words adequate to express it.

The pain is completely overwhelming. It is difficult, if not impossible, to describe in words, because no words seem able to fully convey its severity. 

The bigots whose goal is to destroy everything good in the world have struck again. They have quite possibly reached a new low, if such a thing is possible. Another gut-punch, another eruption of hideous, sickening pain that obliterates all else from my consciousness. This time, the target of the bullies’ vicious attacks is not even a person, but a horse. That’s right, a horse. An innocent animal who did nothing wrong.

The pain is so severe that I cannot even put into words the latest atrocity, cannot link to a source, cannot re-post the sickening image. All I can say is that the sickening, horrifying image of where Traveller’s gravesite used to be is etched permanently into my mind. I cannot stop thinking about the pitiful scene, the broken cobblestones with the hideous, gaping hole where Traveller’s grave marker used to be, before it was brutally hacked out of the ground. Over the past three days, whenever I manage to focus on something else for a few minutes or perhaps even an hour, whenever my pain decreases to a very high but barely manageable level, the hideous image comes back, and the excruciating, agonizing pain erupts again.

When I feel like this, all positivity is crushed. Any potential for happiness, any possibility of finding a positive spin on events, is stamped out. I want to make a drawing of Traveller, as a tribute to him, to feel that I am, at least in a small way, making a difference. But when I feel like this, all creativity is gone. Before this happened, I had some photos of my Stonewall Jackson statue that I wanted to post. They brought a smile to my face, and I thought they might do the same for others in the Confederate history communities that I belong to. But now, even that seems inappropriate. There can be no smiles, no happiness, given what happened three days ago. 

Even expressing how I feel in a civil, eloquent, logical, well-thought-out manner is out of reach when I feel like this. Whenever I contact public officials about the issues that matter to me, I put a lot of effort into composing a polite and well-written email, under the assumption that if my wording came off as too angry and harsh, it would be counterproductive to my goal of persuading them to change their minds. But when my rage and anguish are as strong as they are now, I am not capable of translating these feelings into such an email. Similarly, if I were to make a social media post about Traveller, I don’t know how I would be able to compose a caption. On social media platforms, I am connected with current and former co-workers, members of the local arts community, and people who admire my artwork, which creates a similar need for civil, eloquent, and logical writing. Expressing my raw, unfiltered feelings could cause people to think that I am completely unhinged, or a white supremacist, which would have negative ramifications for my artwork, my social standing, and my career.

So I write nothing, and I post nothing. I am tormented every day by all of the people who do not care about what has happened, who talk about superheroes and Disney movies and baseball, who post pictures of their dogs, babies, lobster rolls. Who continue with their mundane, ordinary lives as if nothing is wrong, enjoying the things that they are interested in, because unlike the things that I am interested in, those things are still allowed to exist. The great irony is that when I write nothing and post nothing, I appear exactly like them. My feelings are so strong that I am unable to wrangle them into a presentable form, and so from all outward appearances it looks as if I don’t have any feelings about this topic at all, when nothing could be further from the truth. The enormous pain that has been inflicted on me by the statue genocide is exactly why it is so important for me to express my views on it, yet it is also the reason why I cannot do so.

But I cannot allow myself to be silenced. Not if I am to survive this. Historical figures are what made my life worth living. Offering an alternative viewpoint to that of the mindless bullies, the perpetrators of the genocide, is what I was put on this earth to do. If there is anything that can possibly give me a reason to continue living, offering an alternative viewpoint is that thing. 

So I wrote an email to the person who is responsible for destroying Traveller’s gravesite. The person who is responsible for causing this pain. I didn’t make an effort to make it sound civil, polite, or logical. It probably comes off as completely unhinged. But at this point, I don’t really care anymore. Coming off as unhinged is better than not expressing myself at all, because to remain silent is to condone the bullies’ actions. The raw, tormented, and tortured part of me is part of me, just as the polite and logical part is. She deserves to be heard, too. I shouldn’t have to wait until I summon the energy to suppress this part of myself, shouldn’t have to wait until the polite and logical part of me is back in control, before expressing my views. Because too often, that results in me not expressing my views at all. 

Plus, it’s not as if sending polite and logical emails has been effective in getting public officials to change their minds. The genocide continues, excruciating gut-punch after excruciating gut-punch. And when you think about it, why would polite and logical emails be effective, when they fail to convey the severity of my pain, fail to convey the true extent of what has occurred, fail to truly explain the negative impact of the bullies’ actions? When I send a polite and logical email, the recipient probably thinks: this person’s pain is relatively minor; this person’s pain is insignificant compared to the pain inflicted on black people by police brutality and systemic racism; this pain is something that this person just needs to suck up, to tolerate, to get used to.

No. This pain is intolerable. This pain is not something to suck up, to tolerate, or to get used to. This pain is unacceptable. And this pain is a direct result of people’s actions. Therefore, these actions are unacceptable. Any communication that does not convey this fundamental truth is not truly honest, and therefore probably cannot be effective.

As an autistic person whose special interest is history, things like Traveller’s gravesite were the things that made my life worth living. These were the things that brought me beauty, that brought me joy, that brought me happiness. I understand that this isn’t the case for people who do not have history as a special interest. But that does not justify their complete lack of empathy for those who do. It is no explanation and no excuse for their despicable actions.

For three years, I have been trying, I have been searching, I have been racking my brain to figure out why anyone would want a world completely devoid of the things that make life worth living, completely devoid of beauty, joy, or happiness. I still do not understand. I am certain I never will.

Yet another piece of what makes my life worth living, cruelly destroyed, brutally hacked out of the ground. The people who do these things do not care a whit about what they are doing to me. They do not care one iota about the pain that their actions have inflicted. Lynn Rainville gets to continue “studying ordinary Virginians doing extraordinary things in the past,” to continue “telling the stories of exceptional Virginians whose names never made it to the history books,” to continue “uncovering lost sites and forgotten heroes from hometowns across the state,” as her website and the bio on her faculty page so elegantly explain. Meanwhile, due to her actions, I sit here overwhelmed by excruciating agony, struggling to continue existing, my body, mind, and soul ripped to shreds. Due to her actions, my entire world is destroyed. 

Dear Dr. Rainville,

I learned from news reports about the removal of Traveller’s grave marker, and the fact that you are the person responsible for making the decision to do this.

There are no words to express the anger, pain, anguish, and sadness that I felt, and continue to feel, upon learning of this disgusting action. I am appalled that anyone would think it was a good idea to punish a horse – an innocent animal who did nothing wrong – by destroying his gravesite. Your actions are cruel, mean-spirited, nasty, heartless, and completely lacking in empathy. Seeing images of Traveller’s grave, with the hideous gaping hole where his headstone used to be, makes me feel physically sick.

I am usually a mild-mannered person, but your actions are so despicable, shameful, and disgusting that a calmly worded email would be inadequate. As someone who loves history as well as horses, I am absolutely appalled at what you have done. I do not have any connection to Washington & Lee University, other than being interested in history and knowing about the various historical sites present on campus. Yet the pain that your actions have inflicted on me is so severe that it is impossible to put into words. Many of my friends and fellow history lovers feel the same way.

I am completely and utterly baffled as to what thought process could possibly have led you to make the decision that you did, unless your goal is to make the world as bad a place as possible, or to inflict the maximum possible amount of pain on other people. I truly cannot imagine how a human being could possibly have come to the conclusion that destroying Traveller’s gravesite was a good idea.

I hope that you will issue a public apology, both to Traveller and to all the people you have hurt through your heartless, mean-spirited, and cruel actions.

Sincerely,

Marissa B.

bookmark_borderRebutting a bully

“Today I looked Robert E. Lee in the eye and said, ‘You have no power over me.’ Now the healing can begin.”

This is what someone wrote in a social media post after Richmond, Virginia’s statue of Robert E. Lee was wrongly and disgracefully removed.

These words could not be more wrong. In this person’s warped version of reality, the losing side of a war that took place over 150 years ago is somehow the side that has always held power, and rubbing salt in the wounds of those who are already suffering somehow constitutes healing.

What I would say to the person who wrote this is, Robert E. Lee has never had any power over you. The Confederacy lost the Civil War in 1865. The Confederacy is the losing side of the war, while the Union is the winning side. Why are you so eager to inflict a new level of defeat upon people who were brutally and mercilessly defeated more than 100 years before you were born? You, and people like you, are the ones who hold power in our society, while the people who share the ideals of the Confederacy (liberty, individual rights, and resistance to authority) are the ones who hold no power.

Dear person who wrote this: Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy were rebels who fought back against authority, while you represent authority and the establishment. Robert E. Lee represents thinking for oneself and daring to be different, while you represent mindless conformity. Robert E. Lee represents the oppressed, while you are the oppressor. Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy were the underdogs, while you are a bully. 

In other words, people like you are the powerful. People like Robert E. Lee are the powerless. It really is that simple. Monuments to Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy by their very nature represent rebellion and resistance to authority. For reasons that I will never fully comprehend, it is these ideals that you and so many other people demonstrate such a vicious, sadistic, and mindless eagerness to tear down and stomp on, both literally and figuratively.

In no way, shape, or form does it make sense for a bully to gloat that their victim – a person who has never hurt them in any way and who died over 150 years ago – does not hold power over them.

Dear person who wrote this: You, not Robert E. Lee, are the one who holds power and who always has. 

How dare you – a person who has always been part of the winning side, the majority, the mainstream, the establishment – gloat about inflicting further pain on an unpopular and powerless minority? You have no right to paint yourself as the victim. That distinction belongs to Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy.

Dear person who wrote this: You write about healing being able to begin, when you have nothing to heal from, because you are the one inflicting the pain, not the one enduring it. What has taken place over the past few years with regards to Confederate statues is an example of the winning side rubbing salt in the wounds of the losing side, of the advantaged stomping on the already disadvantaged. What you characterize as “healing” is actually the infliction of horrific pain on innocent people who have done nothing to deserve it and who have already suffered unimaginable losses. How dare you use the word “healing” to describe something that is its polar opposite?

Dear person who wrote this: You have things completely backwards. You are the authority, you are the majority, you are the mainstream, you are the establishment, you are the winning side of the Civil War, and you are the bully. It is disgraceful that you would gloat about inflicting further pain on those who are already suffering, and then call it healing.

bookmark_borderOn the despicable decision to destroy Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue

On Monday, the city council of Charlottesville, Virginia made the despicable decision to transfer ownership of the Robert E. Lee statue to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, an organization that plans to destroy the statue by melting it down.

To say that this news is heart-wrenching and infuriating is an understatement. There is little to say that I haven’t already said about other horrible things that have happened with regard to statues over the past year and a half. Like all acts of obliteration of the cultures and histories of unpopular groups, this decision is disgusting, grotesque, and morally wrong. How anyone could consider it a good idea to destroy a historic and beautiful piece of art is utterly incomprehensible. 

Andrea Douglas, the director of the center, said that the organization plans to “create something that transforms what was once toxic in our public space into something beautiful that can be more reflective of our entire community’s social values.”

In my perspective, Confederate statues are as far from toxic as it is possible for something to be. I love history, particularly the history of those with the courage to be different, to fight for unpopular causes, to rebel against authority, and to stand up for their beliefs even when the odds are against them. The Confederacy embodies all of these attributes, and as a result, people associated with the Confederacy are among my favorite historical figures. My love of rebellious, brave historical figures is my passion, it is my joy, and it is what makes my life worth living. Although these heroes will live on in my mind and heart for as long as I do, the obliteration of their physical presence in today’s world is a profound and unspeakable loss. As a result of actions such as those that have taken place in Charlottesville, the thing that I love more than anything else is increasingly ceasing to physically exist in the world. This makes the world a place that is devoid of goodness, happiness, and joy. It makes the world a place that is not worth living in.

It is truly incomprehensible that someone could consider the thing that is my passion, my joy, and my happiness, to be “toxic.” Literally nothing could be further from the truth.

With this decision, Charlottesville, along with most of the world, has taken another step towards transforming from a place that honors diversity, courage, freedom, liberty, and fighting back against authority, to a place that honors conformity, compliance, and submission to authority. Public art that embodies the latter set of attributes may very well be “more reflective of our entire community’s social values,” as Douglas claims, but that is not a reason to create such art; it is a sign that something is seriously wrong with the community’s social values. 

Douglas’s plan to turn something toxic into something beautiful in public space is actually a plan to turn something beautiful into something toxic.

As is the norm in today’s society, both Douglas’s sentiments and the city’s decision demonstrate a complete disregard for the viewpoints, perspectives, and feelings of others. As usual, the voices that align with whatever happens to be popular at the moment are the only ones that are acknowledged, while the voices of those who think for themselves are ignored. As usual, people like Douglas get everything that they want, while people like me get nothing. As usual, the majority, the mainstream, and the establishment get what they demand, no matter how severely this tramples on the happiness and rights of minorities. 

This decision also illustrates how in such a short amount of time, the conversation in our society has changed from a debate about what types of locations are suitable for displaying statues of anti-authority historical figures, to a debate about whether such statues should be allowed to exist at all. At first, anti-diversity, pro-authority bullies argued that Confederate statues should be moved from public parks, streets, and city squares to more “appropriate” locations such as battlefields, cemeteries, and museums. But then the bullies began vandalizing statues at battlefields and cemeteries, protesting against museums that dared to display Confederate statues, and demanding that the statues be removed from these locations as well. Additionally, cities have increasingly refused to give removed statues to private organizations that would cherish and care for them on private land, apparently believing that keeping the statues hidden in storage is the only acceptable option. But now, at least in Charlottesville, not even that is bad enough. Nothing short of completely and irreversibly destroying the poor statue will do.

Shame on the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, shame on the mayor and city council of Charlottesville, and shame on anyone who supports or agrees in any way with the decision to destroy the Robert E. Lee statue.

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_borderPoliticians express delight at ruining of National Statuary Hall

The National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building is now ruined. During the night, the state of Virginia removed its statue of Robert E. Lee. The Statuary Hall contains 100 statues (now 99) representing two noteworthy historical figures from each state, which are chosen by representatives from the respective states. Until recently, Virginia was represented by Lee and George Washington. The state is planning to spend $50,000 in taxpayer money to replace Lee with civil rights activist Barbara Johns.

In my opinion, this is an absolutely disgraceful move. Johns, who led a student walkout to protest conditions at her all-black school in 1951, is not an adequate or deserving replacement for Lee, who led the armed forces of the Confederate States of America in a valiant effort to establish an independent country. Johns was described as “brave, courageous, and fearless” by her sister, Joan Johns Cobbs. A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial called her “a symbol of youthful courage, conviction and action” who “represents the promise of tomorrow.” And a Washington Post editorial stated that “she and Washington make a fine and fitting pair to represent Virginia.” 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Johns was nowhere near as brave, courageous, fearless, or honorable as Lee was. She is completely unworthy of standing alongside George Washington in the Statuary Hall. With Lee gone, the U.S. Capitol becomes yet another item to be crossed off my list of places that I dreamed of visiting one day. 

“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”

“The Congress will continue our work to rid the Capitol of homages to hate, as we fight to end the scourge of racism in our country,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.” She also called the repugnant act “welcome news.” 

And State Senator Louise Lucas, who led the commission that recommended removing the Lee statue, said: “Confederate images do not represent who we are in Virginia, that’s why we voted unanimously to remove this statue. I am thrilled that this day has finally arrived, and I thank Governor Northam and the Commission for their transformative work.”

Let’s go over these false, mean-spirited, and irrational comments:

To say that the removal of Lee is welcome news and something that people should be proud of is so far from the truth that it defies comprehension. The idea that anyone could be proud, thrilled, or even remotely happy about this development is sickening. With Lee included in its collection, the National Statuary Hall was a place where diverse historical figures and diverse viewpoints were celebrated and honored. Now it has become a shrine to mindless conformity. Lucas is correct in calling this “transformative work,” but it is an understatement to say that this is a negative, not a positive, transformation. If Confederate images do not represent who the people of Virginia are, then that reflects badly on the people of Virginia, not on the Confederate images. And I suppose this is a step forward, as Northam called it, if one’s goal is to create a society in which all individuality, uniqueness, and independent thought are stomped out, but why anyone would have this as their goal is incomprehensible.

Contrary to Northam’s and Pelosi’s claims, the Confederacy and its statues are not symbols of racism or “homages to hate,” nor is there any “bigotry of the Confederacy.” Ironically, the only bigotry here is that demonstrated by Pelosi, Northam, Lucas, and other devotees of the political correctness movement that seeks to eradicate from the earth all traces of those who fail to conform to their ideology. The supreme irony in this situation is that Virginia had been telling its story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion all along… by honoring Lee and other Confederate leaders. If Northam truly cared about diversity and inclusion, he would have left Lee in place in the U.S. Capitol and preserved and protected all of his state’s magnificent Confederate monuments instead of brutally tearing them down and spending millions of taxpayer dollars to replace them with new statues of conformist, politically correct figures. 

A country in which there is no room for celebrating the Confederacy in any place of honor is not a country in which I want to live. Political leaders have made it clear that there is no place for someone like me in this country. I am devastated, I am enraged, and I am shattered. I hate the United States of America with all my heart. The fact that people would deliberately do such a heinous act and then issue statements gloating about how happy it makes them is beyond despicable, beyond reprehensible, and beyond disgusting. Northam, Pelosi, Lucas, and any person who believes that this development is in any way positive deserve to burn in Hell for all eternity. 

bookmark_borderPolitically correct bullies vote to remove Lee statue from Antietam

In yet another step in their quest to make the world as bad a place as possible, the politically correct bullies are senselessly attempting to get rid of the statue of Robert E. Lee on the Antietam battlefield in Maryland. The House of Representatives recently voted in favor of Resolution 970, which calls for the removal of the magnificent statue.

“It was commissioned with the explicit intent of honoring the Confederacy and glorifies the Confederacy — its leaders, the cause of slavery and open rebellion against the United States,” said Rep. Anthony Brown. “It’s also historically inaccurate. The monument depicts Gen. Lee riding up to the battlefield on horseback while evidence shows that the general actually traveled to a different part of the battlefield in an ambulance due to a broken wrist… Instead of teaching us the dark lessons of our history, this statue sanitizes the actions of men who fought a war to keep black Americans in chains. There is no reason why any of our nation’s public spaces should have monuments celebrating those who betrayed their country.” Brown also called Lee a “brutal slave owner” and called the institution of slavery “savage.” 

“I cannot find a single case of any other country on earth where monuments and memorials are put up to honor the generals of enemy forces in a civil war, or any other war,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin. “There’s something freakishly unusual about this practice.” He also called the Confederacy “neither noble nor heroic.”

Let’s go over these arguments:

First of all, the Confederacy was both noble and heroic. The fact that a statue honors and glorifies the Confederacy is a good thing, because the Confederacy deserves to be honored and glorified. This is because the Confederacy was in open rebellion against the United States. Contrary to what Representatives Brown and Raskin argue, rebelling against a government is a good thing, not a bad thing. The Confederacy was fighting to form an independent country, which is exactly what the colonies were doing during the Revolutionary War. If you believe the Confederacy was in the wrong, then in order to be logically consistent, you must also believe that America was in the wrong during the Revolutionary War and the British Empire in the right. 

To address Brown’s point about slavery, yes it is true that slavery was part of what the Confederacy was fighting for. It was one of the reasons why the southern states chose to secede from the United States. But the Confederacy’s primary cause was not slavery but secession itself. To treat the Confederacy as synonymous with slavery is to ignore the fact that the Confederates were fighting for their independence, while the Union side was fighting to force other people to remain part of the country against their will. Anyone who truly values liberty and opposes authoritarianism would believe, as I do, that the Confederate cause overall was morally better and more honorable than the Union cause.

As for Brown’s claim that slavery was savage, perhaps that is true, but in my opinion not as savage as the despicable acts of destruction and vandalism that have been perpetrated against statues across the country and world by those with similar ideologies to Representatives Brown and Raskin. Additionally, although Lee was a slave owner, he was not brutal as Brown claims. He inherited a farm with numerous slaves and was relatively kind as slave owners go, freeing the slaves once the debts of the estate were settled. 

It also bears mentioning that the argument that Confederate generals were bad because they fought for slavery somewhat contradicts the argument that Confederate generals were bad because they “betrayed their country” and “waged open rebellion against the United States.” Those who make the first argument criticize members of the Confederacy because they (allegedly) trampled on the rights of the underdog by forcing people to endure slavery. Those who make the second argument criticize members of the Confederacy because they were the underdog, fighting back against a federal government that was trampling on them. These arguments are inconsistent: is trampling on the underdog bad, or is it actually good, as is presumed by the second argument? I have noticed numerous instances lately in which people, including Brown and Raskin, make both arguments in the same speech, completely ignoring the fact that they are contradicting themselves. 

As for Raskin’s argument that America is the only country to erect monuments to enemy generals, that might be correct. This practice may indeed be unusual. But that has nothing to do with whether it is good or bad. In my opinion, allowing the losing side of a war to be honored is not only good, but to do anything else would be morally reprehensible. As I explained above, the Union side was wrong and the Confederate side right. Therefore, the leaders and soldiers of the Confederacy absolutely deserve to be honored with monuments and memorials. The Confederacy deserved to win the war; in fact the southern states deserved to be allowed to exist as an independent country without the United States even waging war against them. Given that the United States unjustly won a war that it didn’t even have a moral right to wage, the absolute least that the U.S. could do would be to allow the losing side to erect monuments to their leaders and soldiers. To take away the right to commemorate the Confederate dead, as politically correct bullies are doing across the country, is to compound horrific injustice with even more injustice. It is beyond despicable.

Another counterpoint to Raskin’s argument is that in most wars, both countries continue to exist after the war. It makes sense that each country would honor only its own generals, because generals from other countries would be honored in those countries. But in the Civil War, one of the warring nations was completely obliterated as an independent entity. It’s not possible to put statues of Confederate generals in their own country, because the Union’s victory in the Civil War means that what used to be the Confederacy is now part of the United States. According to Raskin’s logic, the generals of the losing side in any war for independence do not deserve to be memorialized at all. This is stomping on the underdog and is, for the reasons explained above, beyond despicable.

As for Brown’s point about historical accuracy, it is true that Lee traveled in an ambulance for most of his time at Antietam, as opposed to riding on horseback. His horse, Traveller, had gotten scared by something and bolted while Lee was holding his bridle, causing Lee to fall and break his arm. I don’t really get the argument that because of that, Lee should not be allowed to have a statue at Antietam. I suppose technically the statue of him on horseback, without any visible injury to his arm, is not perfectly historically accurate. But the fact that Lee was injured during a random accident with his horse doesn’t make him any less of a brilliant general or honorable man. It doesn’t make him any less deserving of a statue, and it is mean-spirited to use this as a reason to get rid of Lee’s monument.

What is particularly reprehensible about Resolution 970 is the fact that the statue being targeted is located on a battlefield. The whole purpose of a battlefield is to commemorate history, specifically the battle that took place there. And if a battle took place, there were necessarily two sides, each fighting bravely for what they believed was right. To argue that only one side in a battle should be honored is bigoted, intolerant, cruel, and mean-spirited. When the politically correct bullies first began to demand the removal of statues, they focused on those monuments located on city streets. Move the statues to more appropriate places such as museums and battlefields, they demanded. But now statues on battlefields are under attack as well, demonstrating that the bullies’ quest to strip away everything beautiful, good, magnificent, and glorious from the world knows no bounds. Every excuse for a human being who voted in favor of this resolution is a bigoted, mindless coward who deserves to burn in Hell for all eternity. 

bookmark_borderGood news and bad news on General Lee

Statue Robert E. Lee Richmond.JPG
Robert E. Lee Statue (photo by Martin Falbisoner via WikiMedia)

This past week a judge ruled that the state of Virginia can remove the huge, magnificent statue of General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond. A group of homeowners sued to stop Governor Ralph Northam’s plan to take down the beautiful statue, but the judge dismissed their lawsuit. Lee is currently the last Confederate statue standing on Monument Ave; the city tragically removed the rest of the sculptures that gave the street its name earlier this year.

The fact that people actually exist who want this statue to be removed remains incomprehensible. This is another step in the disgraceful quest to strip the world of everything beautiful, magnificent, unique, artistic, and distinctive, to create a society of conformity and nothingness, and to trample on anyone who does not share the majority view. Do these individuals think that all food should be required to undergo a process that removes its taste and texture and turns it into gruel? Do they think that Walt Disney World should be razed so that the land can be turned into a giant parking lot? Do they think that all clothing should be banned and people required to spend their entire lives naked? I believe that these things are analogous to removing Confederate statues, and equally senseless and wrong.

Northam called the ruling “one step closer to a more inclusive, equitable, and honest Virginia,” and Attorney General Mark Herring described it as “one step closer to finally bringing down this relic of our racist past and moving forward as a diverse, inclusive, welcoming community.” Nothing could be further from the truth than these statements. First of all, the statue is not racist. Second, condemning and erasing all historical figures not deemed to be perfect according to the prevailing norms of 2020 is the exact opposite of inclusion and diversity. And third, completely disregarding the preferences of those who admire and cherish this statue is the exact opposite of being equitable. 

1890 Lee statue unveiling.jpg
Unveiling of the Robert E. Lee statue, May 29, 1890

The statue of Robert E. Lee that all these bullies find so horrible and offensive was sculpted in France by acclaimed artist Antonin Mercie, who was known as the “unrivaled master of the chisel.” It was commissioned in 1876 by the Lee Monument Association and was based on a painting by German-American artist Adalbert Vlock. Several bronze pieces were cast separately before being assembled. The completed statue was exhibited in Paris and then shipped to Richmond, where 10,000 people helped to pull it to its final location: a traffic circle at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Allen Avenue. The statue was finally unveiled on May 29, 1890. In 2007, the statue was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The figure of Lee stands 14 feet tall, and the entire statue, including the horse and the base, is 60 feet tall. Interestingly, the horse does not represent Lee’s faithful steed, Traveller, but instead is a generic horse with “ideal” proportions. 

How could someone think that the city of Richmond, the state of Virginia, or the world would be improved by removing this statue? The actions of the governor, attorney general, and presiding judge, as well as all those who support the ruling, demonstrate a complete disregard for General Lee, those who honor his memory, the artist and sculptor of the statue, and all those who worked to create it and bring it to Richmond. 

There is a tiny shred of good news, however: the judge stayed the ruling pending appeal. This means that Lee will remain standing until the plaintiffs’ appeal is heard, which will happen at some point next year. With Virginia’s gubernatorial election happening next November, there is a chance that the statue will remain in place until there is a new governor, who might possibly allow it to stay.