Something was nagging at the back of my mind about the recent push to destroy all Civil War monuments in the South. The argument usually advanced is that these statues celebrate the Confederacy and slavery so they should be removed. That case is facially plausible.
However, the destruction of monuments seems to be accelerating, with a move from organized removal, lawfully conducted, to mobs toppling the statues spontaneously.
Watching this video is a good example of the trend.
Then I saw today that activists are demanding that statues of Theodore Roosevelt be taken down, because he was apparently also “racist”.
And today the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized.
In the past, there have been outbreaks of this sort of behavior, and they have tended to get out of control. There was the original iconoclast movement in Byzantium. There was a massive destruction of religious images during the Reformation. There was a similar outbreak of mob attacks on religious statues and images during the French revolution. During the early days of the Spanish Civil War, mobs spontaneously attacked and destroyed churches. There is a famous photo of men in civilian clothes taking pot shots at a large crucifix, somewhere in Spain in 1936.
The Wikipedia article lists many such outbreaks.
The Chinese Cultural Revolution seems the most apt comparison to where this is going. The Red Guards tried to stamp out the entirety of Chinese history up to their own time. Everything that had occurred before their revolution was corrupt and any attempt to preserve it was a political offense requiring the harshest possible personal attack, including violent attack, and including death. Further, the activities escalate because people must engage in increasingly extreme behavior to show their commitment and fervor. Slacking off becomes suspect.
The fact that this is a recurring phenomenon, with similar patterns repeating in various cultures over thousands of years, suggests that there is a generalized psychological impulse which can express itself anywhere if conditions are right, especially an ideological motivation.
The inner logic of Political Correctness, in the USA, in 2017, has no stopping point.
The existence of Trump is a helpful rhetorical crutch, since people can say that they are just striking out in rage at having a fascist in the White House. But that is a justification not a cause.
Genuine, deep hatred of the past, of everything the USA has been and stood for, is the motivator.
This is the result of several generations of indoctrination, in the government schools. The indoctrination has been spectacularly successful.
Absolutely everything that occurred in the American past is necessarily, in this view, tainted and corrupt, valueless and worthy only of elimination. For example, most of the Founders were slave-owners. All depictions and references to them must be destroyed. George Washington, a slave owner, was no better than a Nazi. All institutions and documents associated with slave-owners, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, are no better than Nazi documents. All of them must be destroyed.
Christian churches have traditionally been associated with condemning homosexuality as sin, or fighting against Islam. These religious buildings and their images must also be destroyed, by this logic.
Buildings traditionally associated with male privilege, or capitalism, for example old office buildings with traditional lobby spaces, or clubs that were once restricted to men, are tainted. These also have to be destroyed.
At a certain point public monuments will be attacked if they are old or have figurative statues simply because everything from the past falls short of the ideal politically correct standard and is therefore evil.
If you watch the video of the crowd tearing down the Confederate soldier statue, they are not engaged in any kind of rational political act. They are in a frenzy. They are motivated by hate, and they are literally angrily kicking and punching an inert mass of crumpled metal.
Mobs, once they taste the pleasure of mass violent action and ritual destruction, will want more of it. The conduct will not stop, but will escalate. It is a process that can get out of control.
The psychological compulsion to engage in this behavior, and the feeling of group solidarity which comes with the activity, the chanting, the sense of triumph in destroying something that is valued by people the attackers hate, is intoxicating.
Conventional politicians on the Left will find it hard to find a principled way to condemn the behavior, and will say they understand the impulse but condemn the excess.
Conventional politicians on the Right will apologize for racism and oppression in the past, but insist on law and order.
Neither will engage with the revolutionary and nihilistic impulses which underlie this behavior, or the indoctrination which made it possible.
Expect to see this behavior continue, ratchet up, break out in many places.
Expect high levels of serious vandalism and arson directed at the types of monuments and buildings I mentioned.
As usual with such predictions, I hope I am wrong.
Let’s see how it looks over the next few months.
TThat didn’t take long!
In Chicago today: Local pastor calls on Emanuel to change names of 2 Chicago parks.
Bishop James Dukes sent a letter to Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Park District on Monday asking the City of Chicago to rename Washington and Jackson Parks which commemorate former presidents George Washington and Andrew Jackson, key historical figures and known slave owners.
The article notes: “On the topic of removing the statute of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the president said, ‘I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?'”
President Trump is a pretty smart cookie!
But it didn’t even take a week.
According to the article, this pastor “is meeting with a city official soon to discuss the process for changing the names.”
We have a whole damn state named after Washington!
That has to change.
And Washington’s head has to be dynamited off of Mount Rushmore.
And the money? Washington’s face is on the money! That has to change!
And all those statues! Take ’em down!
That will help to bring about healing.
Executive director and general counsel of the Congressional Black Caucus calls for statues of George Washington to “come down”.