Though young compared too many, this nation already has a checkered past. In fact, many chapters of its history include incidents and institutions that are downright evil. There is no denying it, and modern American patriots have no need to. We colonized this continent largely at the expense of its native inhabitants. Our ancestors – including some people we still revere as heroes – enslaved and otherwise brutalized other human beings entirely because of their ethnicity. For centuries, we have marginalized women and denied them even some of the most basic rights enjoyed by men. These things (and many others) have been done, and there is no undoing them. As a nation, we have grown to move past these injustices and try, God willing, to do better in the future, but of the fact that we have a past, we can only show our deepest and most sincere regret that our history is indelibly marked with wrong. We do this, and we should.
But in a very roundabout and insidious way, we’ve gone beyond moral regret and are venturing dangerously close to allowing the evils of the past to control us today. Stephen Fry once brilliantly pointed out that it’s not uncommon in modern society for people to jump to the declaration that something “offends” them – as if the very state of being offended gives them certain rights. We are not even allowed to make a statement or display an image that brings to mind a bygone era. To be sure, it’s entirely understandable for Native Americans to be sensitive about the European settlement of North America. To translate that into calls for sports teams today bearing the name “Redskins” to be relabeled is a bridge too far. Our present issues from our past, warts and all, and we can’t make history better by pretending it didn’t happen.
Most recently, the focus has shifted to historical monuments, especially those representing the Confederacy – because one of the many issues they stood for was slavery. This is alarming. Never mind the fact that the Confederacy was not a gang of one-dimensional super-villains from a children’s television show – never mind that they also believed in states’ rights and a limited scope of federal government, laudable principles quite aside from their repugnant support of slavery. Forget all that. People calling for statues to be taken down from public spaces want to whitewash the past; to remove any possible reminder than anything bad ever happened, and why, because someone might be “offended” by it? This is beyond regret; this is censorship by political correctness.
Of particular concern here is the identity of the ones calling for the censorship. These tend to be left-leaning groups, and the fringe alt-right is the culprits and they are becoming very familiar organizations. Antifa and the so-called Black Lives Matter – both of these which are so accustomed to using violence and intimidation that they may as well be considered home grown terrorist organizations. Petitions have long circulated to have the government officially classify them as such. And these are the people trying to tell us that we are not allowed to remember our history or speak of it aloud.
Cities around the country are bracing for a new wave of demonstrations in the months to come, with parties on both sides of the debate over Confederate statues and monuments prepared for confrontations. The increasing threats come after one of the most divisive presidential campaigns in modern U.S. history: Black Lives Matter, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Industrial Workers of the World, the anti-racism group Showing Up for Racial Justice, the International Socialist Organization, and “Antifa” has been given a “militant” radical connotation, all of these groups seem to agree about the need to take down “white supremacy,” as well as the notions that America is a racist country and that the police are a threat to the public. You would think they all would become fast friends or are they doing this just for media attention?
Nowadays, President Trump supporters are feeling more inclined to go out and defend the President and his critics feeling more pressure to have their own voices heard.
There’s always been tension over race and ethnicity and immigration, but it has spun out of control because of the political correctness, and that’s not a part of American history To forget our history is to forget ourselves, and the very core of who and what we are as Americans. We were shaped by everything that happened before today, positive and negative – good and evil. We should take responsibility and make amends for the wrong that we’ve done, but we should not seek to behave as if that wrong never occurred. It’s there in our past, its part of us. We must accept that it happened, not erase our own history.