Many people don’t understand why universities include a core curriculum of mandatory study, one that usually includes study of classic western art and literature. This came about in the aftermath of World War I and was reinforced by the horrors of World War Two. The western world had come perilously close to destroying ourselves, our culture, and perhaps even our living memory. After two world wars fought within a few decades of one another, the west risked being reduced completely to rubble, or perhaps even worse, having the armies of darkness march all across the face of the earth as Sean Connery quipped in one of our favorite fictional films. World wars and the destruction they brought traumatized the western mind, making us aware of our past accomplishments, as well as how easily it could all fall apart.
Many of us are concerned when we see mobs of mentally ill children pulling down confederate statues, and defacing others across America. We’re told that these statues need to be removed because they are racist. We’re also told that the removal of these statues is a one-off, a singular action that once done will somehow improve the lives of Americans. Instead, politics is a continuum, and constantly evolving game in which one strategic gambit leads to the next. Clearly defined end games are not really a norm.
Confederate statues are a representation of an army that fought on the wrong side of history, and also a reminder of America’s legacy of slavery. They are also many other things. Racists today use the stars and bars to intimidate minorities, but those of us who have lived in the south and seen black Americans wearing a confederate flag ball cap at the gas station know that history and culture are far more complicated. Untangling the nuances and ambiguities is no easy task, which is why claims that the statues must be taken down because “racism” as if that is a single blanket excuse for everything, do not really hold water. If the local community votes to take down a statue in their municipality, then that is democracy in action and should be respected even if we find it disagreeable. However, when a bunch of kids who have never received a 1099 form are tearing down monuments with historical significance that they don’t even understand, what we have is mob rule.
Reluctantly, I must concede that this is in fact a culture war. Direct comparisons in international politics are often lacking context. “This is like that” is often too simple an explanation. That said, having seen aspects of the Syrian civil war up close, recent events are particularly disconcerting. For some the removal of confederate statues really may be a one-off, but for a particular movement, it is just one phase in a campaign to erase western history. These are some facts:
-Last year activists held a protest inside the Natural History museum in New York City, demanding the removal of a statue of Theodore Roosevelt and the re-naming of Columbus Day. Quoting from The Guardian,
The group started with a 10-stop tour of the museum in which they highlighted a variety of exhibits they felt were racist and misrepresentative, which ranged from how the representation of Africans reinforces negative stereotypes to the exoticizing of Islam in the Hall of Islam exhibit. ‘Where is the Hall of Christendom?’ one of the tour guides asked.” Nitasha Dhillon, who helped organize the protests stated, “It’s just to echo what this is, it’s really a hall of white supremacy, that’s what this is.”
-This is also reminiscent of what a group of feminists said about Butler Library at Columbia University (which will no doubt that to be re-named) stating that,
Butler is an extremely charged space — the names emblazoned on the stone façade are, for me, a stimulant for resistance . . . I work in Butler but sometimes feel suffocated by it … The point was to transgress the relative conservatism (and its history) of the space with this hysterical intervention.”
-Since the current statue hysteria has kicked off, statues of Lincoln have been defaced in Chicago and Washington D.C. Why? Lincoln held the union together and freed the slaves. In Baltimore, a statue of Christopher Columbus was vandalized this past Sunday. Clearly, this movement is not simply about Confederate statues.
-In Durham, where the kids illegally pulled down a Confederate monument, at least three of those arrested for the act turned out to be members of the World Workers Party. The World Workers Party is a communist party that ostensibly fights imperialism and racism. The pawns in the game may actually believe that, but communists want revolutionary change, to scrape away the state as it currently exists and replace it with their vision of a communist utopia. This is hardly a battle against racism but rather one arm in a larger movement to bring revolutionary change to America.
In America, our daily needs are met. Poverty is a relative thing. America has problems but we don’t have Syria problems. We don’t have South Sudan problems. We don’t have Venezuela problems. When the Maslow hierarchy of needs is met, people begin to express themselves in new and different ways because they have the freedom and ability within their society to do so. After your need for water, food, and shelter is met, you can begin fighting for other rights or privileges. As Tyler Durden told us, “we have no great war, we have no great depression.” We’re bored and we’re addicted to the adrenaline that accompanies our outrage. The media stokes things along, but really they just give us what we want. We in turn use social media to force multiply our outrage. All of this is advantageous to dubious political actors behind the scenes who require schisms in society in order to drive their agenda.
We used to fight for LGBT rights. Today we fight for LGBTQQI2SAA rights. Why does the acronym keep getting longer? It seemed like a day after gay marriage was legalized that transgender issues came to center stage. All Americans must be protected and have their civil rights respected, but why is so much psychological space dedicated towards a group that makes up perhaps .03% of our population? It is because someone wants us there, in a constant state of social turbulence. Ironically, the constant pushing of cultural warfare is what led to the election of Donald Trump, and what might win him eight years in the White House. Socially, we are memes replying to memes. Copies without originals in a nation filled with apprentices and no elder statesmen.
But what is the strategic gambit? Will this movement not rest until they have done to America what ISIS did to Palmyra and obliterated Syria’s history? As it stands, we are on track to virtue signal our way to book burnings. The Fourth Reich will not come from a handful of Neo-Nazi losers in white hoods but from a mob of mentally ill children chanting about equality and justice. As it stands there are fringe elements on both the left and the right who are hankering for a civil war. They alternately believe that what will emerge from that is a united America, out of the creative destruction will come LGBTQQI2SAA rights, anti-Imperialism, prayer back in our public schools, walls built on our borders to keep the outside world out. Having seen insurgency and civil war in the Middle East, I assure you that this will not be the case. The country that we know as America will be destroyed and will be impossible to recover.
The strategic gambit is this: armed protestors are going to fight each other. The stage has already been set for it and now we are just waiting for BLM, Antifa, the Alt-Right, and Neo-Nazis to form armed wings. Is it okay to punch a Nazi? At what consequence? When the smoke clears in one of our major cities the streets will be filled with dead on both sides. It will be a 21st Century Boston massacre.
And then, we will really have an America problem.
Featured image courtesy of YouTube