Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. . . . Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. — George Orwell
Now officially condemned as “racist” by the leftist San Francisco Board of Education are Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Lincoln (President Obama’s favorite), Garfield (an abolitionist and Union general in the War Between the States), and McKinley (another Union soldier), as well as revolutionary patriot Paul Revere, author Robert Louis Stevenson, environmentalist John Muir, and many other notables. So all city schools named for these heretofore heroes will be renamed at a cost of close to half a million tax dollars.
In the new “woke” America of 2021, great people’s accomplishments are utterly irrelevant if ever did or said anything the leftists don’t like.
Even the school named for California’s liberal Democratic senator Diane Feinstein will be renamed because in 1986, as mayor, she had a Confederate flag in need of repair replaced at City Hall.
In the new “woke” America of 2021, great people’s accomplishments are utterly irrelevant, and they are reviled as villains if contemporary leftists find they ever did or said anything the leftists don’t like. Indeed, in the tradition of the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, today’s politically correct standard is nothing less than 200-proof progressive perfection. How proud Chairman Mao would be of America’s Red Guards!
This is all part of today’s cancel culture, in which leftists seek to destroy — professionally and personally — anyone daring to deviate from their orthodoxy. Thus, a record number of Americans — famous and ordinary alike — have been removed from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media. Indeed, when a US president can be banned, we are all vulnerable.
Major pressure is now put on advertisers to stop sponsoring any TV or radio shows whose political views offend the Left, and many major corporations no longer do business with any company whose politics are insufficiently progressive, for fear of leftist boycotts.
This same effort to purge our popular culture of non-leftist ideas also seeks to excoriate or even erase from history anyone deemed to have ever deviated from the rapidly-evolving present dictates of political correctness.
How proud Chairman Mao would be of America’s Red Guards!
So we see a record number of statues being torn down, most because of leftist charges of “racism,” with no regard to historical context. Not just Confederate monuments are toppled, but statues of the founding fathers (especially Washington and Jefferson) are defiled as well.
Shattering any notion of fairness is the fact that statues on the chopping block, include those of Abraham Lincoln, the man who did far more than anyone else to free the slaves. “The great emancipator” is now disdained by leftists for not adhering to present attitudes toward American Indians and for having made some racial statements no enlightened person would make today but were tragically the norm two centuries ago.
Even a statue of the greatest abolitionist of all, an escaped slave and father of America’s civil rights movement, Frederick Douglass, was destroyed last year in Rochester, New York.
We erect statues of historic figures to pay tribute to their contributions, not to honor their flaws — flaws being much less remarkable than contributions. That someone was able to accomplish a lot of good in spite of weaknesses only makes his achievements more impressive. Perfect people don’t make history. William Faulkner understood that “You don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.”
Not just Confederate monuments are toppled, but statues of the founding fathers (especially Washington and Jefferson) are defiled as well.
Of course we wish President Lincoln had done more to protect Indians and had never said a racist word. But how many of the four million slaves he helped to free — or their descendants, for several generations — cared about any such remarks?
Instead of stripping President Washington’s or Jefferson’s name from schools, why not teach students about the totality of their lives, and let each student decide for himself how to assess them? Teach all the facts, freely discuss a variety of interpretations, and let students think critically for themselves.