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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Some General Thoughts on the Monument Removers

1. In the limited context of a government body displaying a statue or monument of some kind, it is completely reasonable for a group to lawfully petition the government for its removal. In other words, if some group in some town believes the government should not display a statue of a Confederate or display the ten commandments or whatever, there is legal and judicial process to have such displays removed.
2. In this context, it is never appropriate or legal for a mob to tear down a statue on private property. To allow this is to allow anarchy and mob rule, which is anathema to civil society and the rule of law.
3. In the specific case of a civil war monument honoring a Confederate leader, a reasonable argument could be made that a given statue should be removed on the basis that such leaders were engaged in a treasonous rebellion against the United States. There are two sides to this that require a more nuanced and principled understanding of the Civil War within its historical context, but I regard this as a reasonable position.
4. However, that is not the entire context here. The larger context is that cultural Marxists are at war with western civilization.
5. The cultural Marxists do not see Confederate figures merely as exceptions to American and western values of civil liberties, individual rights and free enterprise. If they did, I would largely agree with them. They regard slavery and genocide as the essence of western civilization. They view history through the post-modern lens of Marxist exploitation theory, class warfare, gender inequality, and critical race theory. They regard western civilization, which they have now tied to the racist theory of “whiteness,” to be their enemy.
6. They are using the relatively ambiguous case of the civil war statues as a wedge to accomplish a larger cultural transformation. While many on the right are tripping over themselves to virtue signal and express sympathy with those seeking to tear down Confederate statues, the left is already explicitly calling for an even larger war against historical western figures and culture.
7. These Marxists, to whom many on the right are expressing sympathy, are not seeking consistency in the application of civil liberties and individual rights, regardless of race or gender, in the manner of the original Civil Rights movement. They are seeking the overthrow of the entire American system. For example, they decry the First Amendment protection of free speech in favor of speech codes, and act violently to stifle intellectual dissent on college campuses while rooting out and expelling any opposition, not just of the extreme neo-nazi variety, but anyone who dares question the Marxist PC orthodoxy, including anyone ranging from mainstream conservatives to even reasonable progressives. These are not the actions of “concerned” civil libertarians but of anarcho-communists or fascists in the tradition of Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Castro, and Hitler.
8.The elephant in the room is the debate over the nature and value of western civilization, not Confederate statues. These protesters are waging a cultural war against those who revere the American constitution, western values of civil liberties, private property, and individual rights. They are attempting a kind of modern day Cultural Revolution, in the tradition of Mao’s communist Cultural Revolution which sought to purge any remnants of capitalist or traditional culture in favor of “pure communist ideology.”
9. The preposterous academic trend of judging historical figures, out of context, by today's standards (the standards themselves largely a result of many of the historical figures’ own efforts at securing liberty!) should not be seen merely as a childish or na├»ve interpretation of historical events but, rather, as a deliberate attempt to rewrite history and to devalue and purge the icons of western civilization from the culture.
10. For example, rather than rationally seeing the Founders as iconic heroes who gave their lives to liberate themselves and the colonies from oppressive monarchy, and whose political philosophy of liberty and individual freedom actually set in motion the very trends that inexorably led to the abolition of slavery and to the most free, prosperous nation in the history of the world, they attack and dismiss these men, because they themselves held slaves - despite the fact that most of the world practiced slavery at that time, including Africans and Native Americans.
11. Whether it’s Aristotle, Columbus, Galileo, Shakespeare, Jefferson, or Robert E. Lee, not viewing any historical figure in the wider historical context, for good or bad, is not only scientific and academic malpractice, it is evil. Applying a kind of binary “good or evil” stamp on historical figures, not only by today’s ethical standards, but particularly from a Marxist perspective, is an attempt to undermine rational standards of intellectual inquiry in favor of rote leftist propaganda.
12. Western civilization and its foundational values of individual freedom and representative government required hundreds of years of intellectual and military battles to achieve and maintain. The ideas and the culture of the west should be understood and criticized within that context and should be valued, not as matter of genetics, race, and heritage, but consciously and rationally as a body of life serving principles and achievements that have created the most advanced and noblest civilization in history. Be careful to whom you grant your sanction.

13. In summary, knowing nothing else, I think we should oppose anyone who seeks to tear down American monuments. Unless a group specifically makes the case that the monument is, within a limited context, utterly antithetical to American principles of individual rights, that should be the default position. Any case to purge historical shrines or their monuments must be made on the basis of a balanced, rational understanding of American history, taking account of the entire historical context, and from the perspective of regarding American political principles as objectively valuable. Those who seek to overthrow freedom for statism, must not be allowed to rewrite history and attack American culture in this insidious way.

14. In other words, there is a difference between the Marxist side saying "I hate America, therefore statues, every statue, needs to come down" and the liberty valuing side saying "I love America, therefore this statue, because it is against America, needs to come down" even if their statue hatred happens to overlap. 

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