William F. Buckley once said: “History is the polemics of the victor.” Americans, however, do respect courage and determination. The Union won the Civil War, that we know. The generals of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and others have been memorialized in certain states. The strange thing is, they are not memorialized with slaves groveling at their feet. Brave men are not memorialized because of things that they did that are not politically correct in the present day, they are memorialized because they were brave and represented leadership. Leaders are often memorialized. History sometimes brings out the ugly truth about leaders, their flaws, as they are, after all, human.
In the case of the leader such as Robert E. Lee, he was an officer in the U.S. Army and the commandant of West Point. He led the Army of Northern Virginia as well, so when you take down his statue, you’re taking down a statue of a U.S. Army commander. Other Confederate generals were leaders in the U.S. Army before they joined the Confederacy, but people aren’t looking at those qualities, they’re just looking at something bad in their past. It is common knowledge that Martin Luther King plagiarized some of his dissertation.
From Wikipedia: “Regarding his PhD dissertation, an academic inquiry concluded in October 1991 that portions of his dissertation had been plagiarized and that he had acted improperly. However, "[d]espite its finding, the committee said that 'no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King's doctoral degree,' an action that the panel said would serve no purpose." Martin Luther King is memorialized for his leadership. Want more dirt on a leader? Try The Washington Post on King: “As he became more controversial, his popularity had sagged. Key allies in Washington had abandoned him. He’d gained weight, was sleeping poorly, and was drinking and smoking more. He received frequent death threats. His marriage was strained from his travels and dalliances. One of his mistresses, in fact, was staying at the Lorraine the night before he was killed.” A leader with flaws, still memorialized. Should we, now knowing of his flaws, remove him from public veneration? Make sure all the textbooks list his dalliances, his personal habits and his plagiarism? Or should we recognize his courage and leadership?
William Tecumseh Sherman was one of the most admired generals of the Civil War. Of course, he also led the U.S. Army from 1869 to 1883, and (from Wikipedia) “As such, he was responsible for the U.S. Army's engagement in the Indian Wars over the next 15 years. Sherman advocated total war against hostile Indians to force them back onto their reservations.” Not only the Indian wars, but Sherman led a terribly aggressive campaign against the Confederate states, burning down cities (not military installations, just cities) and destroyed huge swaths of private property owned by civilians (not military installations, civilian property) should we hold Sherman in lesser regard, knowing as we now know? In 1861, William Tecumseh Sherman, who had returned to his home in Ohio because of stress, was described by a newspaper, the Cincinnati Commercial, as “insane.” Lies lies lies, all lies, the press has always taken sides. In the case of Sherman, this supposedly insane person was considered to be presidential material, though Sherman rebuked every offer.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had mistresses, an open secret. If we examine history, we will find flaws in almost everyone. Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian and staunchly anti-abortion, but we don’t see many rational people praising him. The Civil War was a war about a few things more than slavery, despite the politically correct explanation that it was all about slavery. The average soldier in the Confederate army didn’t own slaves, and if the Confederate gentlemen owned 20 slaves they didn’t have to serve in the military. Many important upper-class northerners paid $300 and escaped going to war, including Theodore Roosevelt’s father, and Teddy felt great guilt and remorse about it. We now have people five generations removed from 1865 (the end of the war) who can’t let it go. The Confederacy lost, but it had heroes and important people, icons of the southern lifestyle, with or without slavery.
The intention now is to rewrite history. First, we will destroy any images of leaders of the past with which we disagree. I seem to recall ISIS in the Middle East doing the same thing, rewriting history. Second, we will disallow free speech or expression to anyone who espouses any ideology other than those we approve, again, an ISIS policy and a violation of our constitution which guarantees free speech. But free speech that offends people is now, according to the politically correct, a violation of the law, which it is not. The politically correct are so enamored with their recognition and their unjustified validity that they are altering the very face of America; from now on, we will recognize only those permitted by the politically correct. It’s rather amazing that the crusaders have waited until now, with Donald Trump as president, to express their displeasure with memorials that have been on display for, in some cases, over one-hundred years. I guess it took the crusaders this long to realize their anger.
Like so many self-righteous crusaders, the memorial destroyers see no downside, no ill effects of this behavior. This belief of their infallibility is a characteristic of the self-righteous everywhere, be it the Middle East, Europe or America, and is the most frightening of all of their characteristics. When you believe that you can do no wrong, when you cannot see the viewpoint of anyone else, or believe that yours is the only valid, reasonable viewpoint, justification and rationalization of outrageous behavior follows. Those who once insisted on tolerance have become the intolerant.
The new crusaders are here, and they are infallible, self-righteous, and determined. Anyone disagreeing with the crusaders comes under a description known as an epithet, as someone intolerant is labeled. To disagree means being identified as one of the intolerant. The crusades have begun, and all opposing the crusade are hate-mongering bigots, no matter how rationally they wish to approach the issue, or how much respect and appreciation they have for the past. You cannot tell where you are unless you understand where you’ve been, but the crusaders see the past only as scarred and intolerant, and now the scarred, intolerant crusaders are determined to obliterate any memorials of the past for which they disapprove, taking it upon themselves as the self-righteous judge, jury and executioner. The crusaders do not respect the past, they do not respect our constitution, they do not respect opposing opinions, and they expect everyone to admire them to the point of giving them carte blanche, hardly a unanimous ruling by the public. But opposition to the crusaders to any degree is hate speech, a characteristic the crusaders see in everyone except themselves.