The United States is at cross roads, absurd to the left and irrelevance to the right. The latest victim to absurdity is the cry for the removal of Theodore Roosevelt’s statue from New York’s American Museum of Natural History. This absurdity is further propagated by the buffoonery of NYC Mayor De Blasio and NY State Governor Cuomo. Both pandering to something that has morphed into stupid without an end in sight. Historical distortion of events, personages, and truth has now reached epic proportions. The blatant disregard to dialogue has turned the country into an ignorant caricature of politicians attempting to seem “woke” or empathetic while thugs destroy public property with immunity. So what’s with Teddy? What’s the beef?
Theodore Roosevelt was the most beloved American President and entrepreneur of the 20th century. He embodied the American dream, the “can do” attitude that built a country everybody wants to be in and those currently in it want to destroy. Theodore Roosevelt was an adventurer. He was also a progressive long before being progressive was considered “hip”. He served for a short time as Governor of NY State, but spent most of his life travelling across the country and finding ways to preserve its beauty. He designated wild parks, trails, and nature walks as areas for enjoyment. But all of this has been put aside in an attempt by the likes of De Blasio and Cuomo to find Teddy‘s statue “problematic”.
Two figures join Teddy: a native American and an African man. Both representing the two continents where Teddy travelled and had adventures in. But wait, he is on a horse and they are beneath him; a definite sign of colonial supremacy and racism. That’s the narrative. Even the great grandson of Teddy chimed into the absurd. Theodore Roosevelt IV does not think that the statue reflects his ancestor’s “legacy”. Whatever that means. By the way, Mr. Roosevelt “the IV” is one of the trustees and on the board of the Museum. Let’s appease stupid to keep our pocket book lined and throw the great grandfather under the bus.
I have only recently found out that we have a Monument Removal Brigade. Can’t make this up. A self appointed morality squad. They determine the what is socially and morally unacceptable and we must comply. They have been operating since 2017 after the White Supremacist march in Charlottesville. They were behind the initial removal of the Confederate statues in the South. To be fully honest and transparent; I personally don’t have a problem with any of those statues being removed. The losing side should never be glorified in bronze. As soon as the Cold War ended, the first casualties of freedom were the statues of Lenin. We all rejoiced when we watched the Iraqis topple the statue of Saddam Hussein. And we applauded as Leningrad was again renamed St. Petersburg. Honoring “heroes” of the Confederacy is questionable to say the least. The Confederacy was based on “the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race…” (Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy – Cornerstone Speech, Savannah, Georgia March 21, 1861). As Henry Olsen so eloquently concluded in his Washington Post opinion column (June 24, 2020), “Monuments to this revolting sentiment have no place in the United States that is dedicated to the opposite principle-that all men are created equal”. I agree.
But why go after Grant, the general who defeated the Confederacy? Or Washington, who defeated colonialism? Or Lincoln, the President who went to war for emancipation? What stupid has entered our society? What historical ignorance is lurking in the halls of our academia? Have we reached a point in our country that fact and truth is irrelevant? Is erasing the truth easing the alleged pain? If we are to go back in history and punish all those who wanted a segregated South, or owned slaves, then we should start with Congress. Southern Democrats owned slavery and segregation.
Remember Robert Byrd? Oldest Democratic Senator from West Virginia? Loved by Hillary Clinton, and eulogized by President Obama as a “voice of principle and reason”. When Byrd died in 2010, then Vice President Biden called him a “dear friend”. Robert Byrd was a self-admitting KKK honcho. In the early 1940’s he led a 150 member chapter of the KKK as their Exalted Cyclops. Whatever that meant. In 1945, when he returned from WWII he passionately lamented to then Democratic Senator from Mississippi, Theodore Bilbo, another segregationist, that the military was on the verge of integrating its troops. The “principled” Byrd wrote that he would rather die and see the flag trampled in the dirt than to “…see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels”. His supporters will tell you that he later renounced his KKK affiliation and regretted it. How convenient when it’s one of your own. In the meantime no liberal has found his statue still standing in the State Capitol of West Virginia “problematic” or offensive. No monument police has been sent out to deface or remove. Go figure.
The “idiotic” is not confined to Uncle Sam. Across the pond, bands of thugs went after Winston Churchill. The man who saved Great Britain and Europe from Nazism. Unfortunately, the past is a path no one wants to take. The slave trade flourished in Africa because blacks sold blacks. They had no moral compass that held them back from selling their own to white slave traders. We don’t need to go that far back. On a “normal” weekend, deaths in Chicago are in double digits. Blacks killing blacks. Slavery is not one dimensional and is not owned by black ethnicity only. The first recorded slaves were the Jews. Taken by force to Egypt and eventually to Europe by the Romans. The Pyramids were built by slaves. Do we pull them down? In the Mediterranean, the Ottoman Empire ran amok, landing on small islands and taking inhabitants as slaves. Gozo, the small island off the coast of Malta was raided regularly and its inhabitants carted away.
The free world was built on the backs of many, but it also flourished through the mindset of those who fought to redeem, regret, forgive, and learn. The millions risking their lives attempting to reach our shores should be testimonial to the country’s redeeming factors not its troublesome past. Is there racism in America? I’m certain there is. Is there bigotry? I’m also certain there is. Are Americans by nature both? No. Americans have died and still die protecting others. They are the first to assist in disasters and conflict. They are generous to a fault. Are they perfect? No.
I live 45 minutes away from a Nazi slave labor camp in Germany. A reminder of evil beyond imagination. How can humans dehumanize each other so succinctly? Germany left its concentration camps and labor camps open to the public as a lesson in a country gone bad. Nurnberg, the epicenter of the Third Reich, still has vivid reminders of the Fuhrer’s madness and craving for imperial greatness. Germany did not hide its past, it left it exposed as atonement. Proof of what it inflicted is the shame and guilt that every generation of Germans since WWII must carry. Removing its “monuments” to Nazism would have also erased the memory of the six million that died in camps as inconsequential. Those wounds must remain open.
Every generation has a past. How far is atonement relevant? Religious zeal has killed and tortured in the name of God for millennia. Are we going to burn churches down? The Ottoman Empire ravaged Europe in the name of Islam. Are we going to burn Mosques down? How far back do we want to go to satisfy those who want reparation? The Roman Empire? The Greek Empire? The rabid anti-civilization leftist movement is seeking a better future by erasing the past. A page from Lenin’s playbook. How did that work out?
Olsen, H. (June 24, 2020) Anti-statue movement has taken an absurd turn. Stars and Stripes. The Washington Post.