Thursday, July 23, 2015

Razing History? Enough!

Before I make my comment, I would like you to have a look at this article from the Connecticut Post. Let it sink in.

And now,  I hope what I say here will provide some food for thought. Thought seems to be in short supply right now.

I tend to frown on knee-jerk reactions in response to the prevailing wind as it is, and the prevailing wind is getting ridiculously putrid. The NAACP (or as it's called sometimes, the National Association for the Advance of LIBERAL Colored Persons) is pushing for American Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson to be removed from memorials, monuments, event names, and other things because they were involved in slavery. 
Seriously, are we now going to completely deconstruct American history? Blow up Mt. Rushmore? Raze all the memorials around the country? Think a minute, please. 
We used to learn in history that people (including leaders, monarchs, the average citizen) were "products of the times in which they lived." One needed to understand the times to fairly evaluate. It's always easier in hindsight. If we all had lived in the late 1700s-early to mid 1800s, would we be any different? Can we be sure that we'd be sitting on our high and mighty thrones looking down our noses at everyone who went before us? Or would we have made the same choices they made?
The great thing about "The American Experiment" and the much-maligned, much-misunderstood "American Exceptionalism" is the fact that our very system was designed to learn, grow, and change when necessary. The Constitution was made very difficult to amend on purpose, because Founding Fathers like Jefferson etc. knew freedoms once lost are almost impossible to get back. They knew the dangers of absolute power. But they also knew that some alteration may be needed over time, and when such alteration became necessary, the vast majority of the people would hopefully be the driving force behind the change. The system was also set up that, if some law, decision, order, and even court ruling, was mistaken - it could be reversed and corrected later. Bizarrely enough, Jefferson himself was against slavery, although he had views on race that we hold askance now, thankfully. But again, it must be seen through the times in which Jefferson lived. Even Lincoln, "The Great Emancipator," held views toward blacks that would be considered racist today. Is it impossible to imagine that, given enough time, both Jefferson and Lincoln would have eventually evolved to discard even those views? 
This push to wipe every vestige off our history because we think we're so morally superior to the Founding Fathers is ridiculous. Yes, they were flawed men and women. Yes, they made mistakes. Yes, they even sinned egregiously at times. But that's who we are as a people. I personally do not like how Native Americans were treated in history. Even then, we have to ask the question of how Native American tribes treated each other before we ever got here. Humanity is fallen and does things fallen people do. No one has the right to a halo. 
I tremble to think how we will be remembered in 200 years. If we can nonchalantly talk about crunching up unborn babies for body parts over wine and salad, we may not be remembered too well. I can see a few presidential libraries being razed and portraits being removed from mansions, statehouses, courts, and legislatures. 
History has provided us with enough truly evil figures who do not deserve monuments other than to remember their evil, such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, etc. Can we save our ire for that type of figure, and not blot out every vestige of American history so we can pat ourselves and assuage ourselves of collective guilt for every bad moment in time?

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