When the protestors wanted to only take down statues of Confederate figures, you could argue that they had a point, at least on a purely practical level. People were admittedly paying taxpayer dollars to keep up statues of people of Confederate figures that acted traitorously against the Union and supported views antithetical to the fact that all men are equal under God. However, when protestors started to vandalize and remove statues, without any good-faith discourse, you could start to realize that the point of removing statues was never about taking down statues antithetical to American values, but about fundamentally propagating a narrative that America is evil. Unfortunately, by letting protestors take down those statues, conservatives acquiesced to their ahistorical premise. Now, how do statues show this? We have to understand the moral quandary created when statues began being taken down.
To set the premise, the world in the 1800s was a different place, where slavery was commonplace. Nearly every nation-state, including the Confederacy, was complicit in slavery. Truthfully, the Union was the exception, not the rule. What this means is that, while condemning the racist ideology of the Confederacy, we ought not to judge them in a vacuum.
Really, the better argument for taking down Confederate statues would be that they were traitorous to the Union. However, the fact that protestors do not use that argument, and revert to calling Confederates white supremacists (justified or not), without contextualizing their actions, sets an unachievable precedent. This is because protestors are now using current norms about justice to judge figures of the past, when it is clear that, morally speaking, we have progressed further as a society in terms of applying justice and the constitution fairly. This is a fallacious way to judge historical figures because of course, it is unfair to hold historical figures by the same standard we hold people to, today. The technical term for this fallacy is presentism.
What the protestors do, is take down any statues they do not like, by justifying their actions using the fallacy of presentism. They started with Confederate statues because they were palatable statues to take down. But in doing so, they set the precedent that any slave owner’s statue could be taken down. Using that precedent, they are able to justify taking down any figure they dislike, including that of American heroes.
In 2017, when President Trump predicted that the Left would use this precedent to take down the statues of Jefferson and Washington because they were slave owners, the mainstream media derided him. Now, the Left has vindicated President Trump, by actually following through on taking down statues of Washington and Jefferson. And when you can justify taking down the statues of American heroes under the label of social justice, cancelling any other historical figure becomes fair game. A great example is the removal of the statue of abolitionist hero, Hans Alexander Heg, who died fighting against the Confederates. In isolation, taking down an abolitionist’s statue seems nonsensical. However, in context, it all makes sense under the broader precedent that the Left has set in regard to historical figures.
So, the question now is, why do the radical Left want to take down statues of American heroes like Washington and Jefferson? This all stems from a revisionist history of America and the West, that in broad strokes, Western civilization is fundamentally flawed and built on evil. The Marxist intellectual, Cornel West outright states that “We are witnessing America as a failed social experiment”. This anti-American rhetoric is nothing new and has been referenced in both the ‘1619 Project’, as well as Robin DiAngelo’s book, ‘White Fragility’. This narrative propagated by the Left is fundamentally about the idea that America was founded because of slavery, not in spite of it. That systemic discrimination apparently, has never gone away, and instead, African Americans are still tacitly subject to the same double standard, that they were under slavery and Jim Crow laws. Under this premise, it is justified to take down statues of American Founding Fathers, because they were complicit in allowing the existence of a racist nation like America. This all undergirds the ultimate goal of fundamentally changing American society.
Two things must be noted here. Firstly, there is the ahistorical nature of that claim. Even if one were to accept the premise that African Americans may still face the aftereffects of Jim Crow laws, there is no evidence to prove that on a systemic level, there is discrimination. There is not even evidence showing that systemic discrimination within the police exists. Therefore, there is no justifiable reason to vilify America on the basis of discrimination.
The second thing to note is simply how “Marxist” that entire left-wing narrative sounds. That America is fundamentally racist, so we must tear American civilization out by the roots, and remake it. If you also got that feeling, then you would be right. The co-founder of Black Lives Matter has outright stated that she is a “trained Marxist”, and states in their manifesto, that BLM wishes to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure”.
Throughout history, we have gotten intimately familiar with just how dangerous such rhetoric on Marxism and revolution is. In turn, the first step to “fundamentally changing American society” is to erase its history. Protestors started by taking down statues of Confederate figures. Conservatives were broadly speaking, disapproving, but also, relatively ambivalent. This was, however, the first step towards setting a fallacious precedent, that would give protestors justification to disparage the very Founding Fathers of American society. The first step towards rewriting America by the roots. Is it so much of a surprise, that Shaun King is now advocating taking down statues of Jesus under the pretence that they propagate white supremacy? When you consider the key contention of the radical Left, that America and the West are fundamentally racist, not so much anymore. After all, to remove Jesus is to remove the Judeo-Christian base of Western Civilization, a fundamentally Marxist argument.
Conservatives have allowed the radical Left too much leeway in taking down Confederate statues. In doing so, we allowed them to further their narrative, that America is evil. President Trump has taken action to make removing and vandalizing statues punishable. But the radical Left has gotten a head start in rewriting American history and culture through the ‘1619 Project’, and now, by removing statues of American issues. Conservatives cannot afford to lose this culture war. After all, the very history and traditions that make American civilization great, are hanging on the balance.