Statue of Limitations (2)

Further to my comments the other day about the issues emerging from Charlottesville, a few more observations and interrogatories:

It is understandable that Democrats would be agitating to remove Confederate-honoring statues. After all, it is their history that they need to make go away. You know, things like this:

I won’t vouch for the accuracy of the histogram below (after all, it was produced by a hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center) of when Confederate monuments went up, but the reading given that they went up during the ratcheting up of Jim Crow in the Progressive Era, and then again during the Civil Rights Era, misses that those two eras correspond to the 50th and 100th anniversaries of the Civil War, which puts a slightly different cast on things. On the other hand, the Progressives—especially Woodrow Wilson—were deeply racist. (How about this one from Wilson: The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.” So when is Princeton going to get around to dumping Wilson’s name from its graduate school?)

(Click to embiggen.)

While it is sensible to object to the mindless eradication of history, especially at the instigation of a braying mob, I’m not sure conservatives should be standing in the breach against a set of monuments erected by Democrats. To the contrary, it is tempting to say exactly this: “The time has long been past when we should have removed these Democrat monuments.” In this regard, see David Goldman’s excellent cri de coeur from a couple days ago:

I can accept the idea that Robert E. Lee was a decent man. Decent men fought for causes even more wicked than the Confederacy. Would the Germans erect a monument to Field Marshal Rommel, a professional soldier murdered by Hitler? Of course not. They are left to mourn their dead in private. America had a different sort of dilemma. We fought the Civil War to preserve the Union, including a South that was only sorry that it lost. In the interests of unity we tolerated (and even promoted) the myth of Southern gallantry, the Lost Cause, and all the other baloney that went into D.W. Griffiths’ “The Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With The Wind.” We allowed the defeated South to console itself with the myth that it fought for “states’ rights” or whatever rather than to preserve a vile system of economic (and sometimes sexual) exploitation. Meanwhile the freed slaves had a very bad century between Appomattox and the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Don’t expect them to look with understanding on the supposed symbols of “Southern heritage.”

I thought one of Trump’s better moments in the campaign was when he said to black voters in Detroit, “What have you got to lose?” Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, etc., have been governed by Democrats for decades. How’s that working out for you? Taking down statues is the epitome of cheap grace. (Aside: I see Nancy Pelosi now wants Confederate statues taken down in the U.S. Capitol. Wasn’t she Speaker of the House for four years? Why didn’t she do it then? Will anyone in the media ask her this question?)

On the other hand, polls show a majority of American oppose taking down the statues, perhaps out of ignorance about the Confederacy. I’d have preferred to add monuments, starting with Frederick Douglas, rather than removing monuments

But it is easy to see why Steve Bannon is sitting back smiling about all of this. Let the liberals wallow in their identity politics, and let the left revive the violence of the Weather Underground. The Spencerites are a problem that the right needs to deal with, but the agitated left can be relied upon to produce much more public violence than neo-Nazis. Somewhere Richard Nixon is smiling. Antifa helps Republicans. No less a leftist icon than Noam Chomsky agrees:

“As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”

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