Opinion / Politics

Destroying Columbus Statues – Is No Way Forward

columbusSomething irrational is afoot – and it needs to be stopped. The latest turn – from politicizing everything to hi-jacking peaceful marches for violent socialism, is utter folly: Cities around the country are watching statues of Christopher Columbus torn down by angry mobs.

Observers report the mobs “hacked off his head in Boston, threw him in a lake in Richmond, Va., drenched him in red paint in Miami, and dragged him down from his pedestal in St. Paul, Minnesota.” In short, “protesters in cities around the United States have been tearing down, defacing and otherwise vandalizing statues of Christopher Columbus as an offshoot” of protests.

Of course, a collective default to irrationality has crept on the nation for years, accelerating during Obama’s Administration, as power-centralizing, social reengineering, erosion of interest in national security, and suppression of speech, religion, self-defense, and states’ rights accelerated. Nor are racial tensions new, as violent riots broke-out in 2014 and 2015.

The irrational crowd took off after Trump won the presidency, since that reversed progressive thinking, which amounts to neo-socialist, anti-traditionalist, objectively anti-historical and anti-American thinking. Now neo-socialism has, rather shockingly, taken another turn.

Understanding violent upheaval is a dead-end, not permissible in a stable democracy, we are approaching a time when the majority insists on a return to reason, logic, history, and less hysteria. Until we get there, however, coordinated disruptions and violent folly will continue.

The latest lurch to unreasoned, pro-socialist, anti-historical behavior is the defacing, debasing, beheading, and tearing down of statues to an archetypical explorer, Christopher Columbus – who arrived on these shores with his intrepid crew in 1492.

As with much senseless violence, this turn is being accompanied by chants for justice, as crowds move from church burning and brick throwing to tearing down an American standard bearer, the quintessential example of intrepid European explorers and early ocean-crossing courage.

The virtues of courage, tenacity, undaunted daring, willful wonder, and pressing on through adversity to discover the New World are lost on mobs. They show indifference to history, intolerance for predecessors’ human flaws, and a rowdy crowd’s draw to mindless destruction.

Lost in the mayhem is what made America – intergenerational pain and struggles, sacrifice and risk-taking, love and mutual support, reinforcement from neighbors, refinement of ideals, faith and commitment to the future – all tossed away in a blink by rampaging, uncontrolled mobs.

Lost, too, is any understanding that, as a matter of human nature, perfect humans do not exist. Columbus, along with all presidents, founders, warriors, widows, civic voices, scientists, astronauts, engineers, clergy, and civil rights leaders – are imperfect. They all had flaws – all.

Presidents Republican and Democrat, leaders of both parties and all movements, including Martin Luther King himself, had human flaws – just consult the record, and you will see. If once we start tearing down statues of leaders with qualities to respect, because they have others not worthy of respect, we must commence to tear down all statues. That too would be folly.

If ever we get there, history ends – because we dare not notice men with good qualities for fear of awakening outrage at flaws. Once a population becomes irredeemably judgmental of their neighbors and past, they become Jacobins, promoting violence that swallows the promoters.

So, here is the hope: That has never been – America. We are cut from different cloth. We are a nation which has worked hard, since before we were a nation, to improve, find moral compass and follow it, do better, develop and distill, strengthen, and respect our journey … toward improvement. If we lose that bearing, we forget our greatest strength.

We do not improve by ignoring trials and advances, steps forward and back – which made us who we are. That would be like denying in our personal lives that we make mistakes, which teach lessons, allow for better decisions and maturity.

No, the future does not belong to those who destroy, provoke and place others at fault and in fear. It belongs to those who lead with labors of love, patience, persistence, respect for the past, and hope for the future.
It belongs to people who have Columbus’ best qualities – not his worst.

Tearing down statues of Columbus does not make us a better people. It only takes us backward. Respect for each other, for our shared and flawed past, for labors that brought us to now – including respect history, resolve to do better, and reinforcement of the good – is the only way forward. We come from a long line of explorers – and must explore now, for a better way.

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