Another step forward as the Belgians take down the statue of King Leopold II.
Most Americans have never heard of this old murderer. About a century ago, he slaughtered 10-20 million Congolese in an act of genocide that dwarfed Hitler’s massacre of the Jews. But since we never fought a war against him, this is news to most Americans. The fruits of his monstrous rule include this father, staring at the hands and feet of his five-year-old daughter, who was butchered for failing to harvest enough rubber for his Royal Highness:
Anyway, the other day, the Belgian people did a fine job of defacing that statue of the old monster and then pulled it down, as was long overdue.
Smash cut to America, where various statues are also coming down. Lots of them are Confederate statues. Lee’s coming down in Virginia. Jeff Davis in Frankfort. Birmingham tore some down recently. And the scream that goes up from the MAGA Cult is always, “But our History! Our Precious, Precious History! The liberals are erasing our History!!!!!”
Mhm. And yet the absence of a statue of Hitler or Tojo at the World War II Memorial has not led people to forget who that war was fought against. And indeed, erecting a statue to Hitler in the center of that Memorial would be a profound insult to our honored dead.
For the same reason, putting up a statue of Judas Iscariot in Catholic churches is not the Done Thing.
The reason is that statues always connote the bestowal of honor in the grammar of a civilization. We don’t go to the trouble of commissioning, carving, erecting, and dedicating public statues in order to put up a giant stone post-it note to remind us “Oh yeah! Nathan Bedford Forrest existed and was a Confederate Cavalry Commander and the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. That will be on the test on Monday.”
We do it to honor the subject of the statue and we do it to say something to the public about who and what is honorable. Destroying such statues is likewise the way in which we signal, as a people, that the person and what he represents is no longer held in honor.
This is why we blew up the giant swastika at Nuremburg rather than leave it up to teach history. It’s why there are no statues of Nazis left in Germany. Germans have these things called “books” and “films” and “concentration camps” and square mile after square mile of cemeteries to teach them quite enough about history without statues to remind them of the fact that, in the words of Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, “A thousand years will pass and the the guilt of Germany will not be erased.”
And that’s the thing. For the champions of Confederate statuary, the statues are not reminders of Confederate shame or guilt. They are emblems of pride and shamelessness, erected not as a reminder that their ancestors fought the bloodiest war in US history and murdered more Americans than Adolf Hitler in order to defend keeping black men, women, and children in chains forever, but as reminders to the sons and daughters of those slaves that they lived under Jim Crow and could be tortured and killed at any time if they stepped out of line.
What’s always amazing is the cognitive dissonance of the Cult in response to these facts.
On the one hand, we must preserve our precious history. On the other hand, the black population that history tramples and insults need to “get over it” because slavery was “a long time ago.”
One the one hand, the people marching in Charlottesville were just statuary enthusiasts and history buffs. On the other hand, the fact that they marched under the banner of the swastika as one does rather suggest that they were incapable of learning from history.
On the one hand, the Cult always declares its enemies too stupid to breathe, indulging in “meaningless PC cosmetic victories that change nothing” by tearing down statues instead of addressing the “real” (and never specified) issues. One the other hand, the damn libruls are cunning devils tunnelling under our houses to destroy “our” civilization with their deadly leftist triumphs of thought policing that are Erasing White Civilization and Culture.
Rubbish. Somehow, people know who Hitler was without statues in his honor. Somehow, the Church is able to remember Judas without a statue in his honor.
In the same way, we will be able to remember the Confederacy and the ugly dishonor and treason for which it stood without statues paying honor to that. Indeed, we will remember it more clearly the sooner we stop lying about the reason for its entire existence: to defend the institution of slavery.
Some will dissemble that the war was “really about state’s rights, not slavery.” But that is garbage. Precisely the “state’s right” being fought for by the Confederacy was the right to buy, sell, and own human beings. Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy could not have been more clear on this point in his Cornerstone speech:
its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.
In short, the Confederacy’s entire raison d’etre is directly repugnant–and consciously so–to the great founding claim of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and its statement that “all men are created equal”. And thereby hangs a tale for future discussion about why some statues of sinners, from St. Peter to Thomas Jefferson, should remain standing.
Of which more tomorrow.