It’s easy to forget in the noisy aftermath that last weekend’s Charlottesville fiasco began with a fight over a Confederate monument, Save Jerseyans.
No one was there to protest a particular law or governmental edict.
Fringe factions clashed over publicly displayed… history. Put another way, they were there to force a confrontation over something immutable and long-since settled.
It’s in the spirit that Democrat gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy (D-Goldman Sachs) stuck his foot squarely in his mouth:
What we are witnessing in Charlottesville is the sad result of when hate and bigotry are given a wink and nod by the President and those around him. This is raw ugliness and betrays our values. That this is happening in the community of Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” is profoundly disturbing. We are better than this. -PM
That’s what Phil said on Facebook. The “dog whistle” argument.
What Phil didn’t mention: Thomas Jefferson, as we all know (or at least those of us who weren’t educated by an NJEA-protected Abbott District school), wasn’t “better than this.” He owned slaves. Gasp! He may’ve even had child(ren) by one and, since slaves can’t really consent, the ethics of whatever encounter the author of the Declaration of Independence’s author allegedly had with Sally Hemmings remain… questionable to say the least.
So Phil Murphy is defending people who want to tear down white Southern bigots’ statues by citing a prominent white Southern bigot. Woodrow Wilson (D-
Virginia New Jersey) would be proud!
Maybe our second president gets a pass because Tom was a Democrat?
I also don’t hear Phil Murphy calling on President Trump to tear down the Jefferson Memorial, or the Washington Memorial (he owned far more slaves than Jefferson), or even Lincoln’s Memorial (remember: the Great Emancipator wanted to resettle slaves in Africa).
It’s doubtful we’d agree even if Phil Murphy was putting forth a coherent position on this weighty stuff, but the lack of coherence here isn’t intentional nor is it fretted over. Phil is playing the racial political lotto, attempting to tie his opponents to an unfavorable cultural milieu to win an election. He’s appealing to the same ignorant morons who complained about a lack of black and female leads in the movie Dunkirk (hint: the British army wasn’t exactly “diverse” in the 1930s and 40s).
That’s unfortunate since there’s something much, much bigger at stake here folks.
ISIS destroys monuments. Americans embrace their history, the good and the bad, and learn.
The men and women who made history happen are as imperfect as the Americans who are fighting for the right to shape our country’s future. Can we avoid their mistakes – or build on the GREAT things they did accomplish – by erasing the parts we don’t like? That’d be like an triathlete skipping the stage of the race that’s most challenging, or a scientist omitting the part of the test that’s not producing the desired result.
Remember 1984? When the protagonist Winston described how his authoritarian overlords directed the cleansing of the historical record?
This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.
Every time a statue gets ripped out of the ground? A controversial book is banned? Or dissent is stifled on a college campus? Particularly when an explanatory placard or similar alternative solution would’ve served a higher pedagogical purpose?
America finds itself with another gaping ‘memory hole’ to fill.
That isn’t anything to celebrate if you truly do care about building a stronger future where a learned populace is fortified against the ignorance upon which Confederates and Nazis prey. The only people who benefit from attacking history are hack partisans with an agenda. Like Phil.
WATCH: Protesters tear down statue in Durham, North Carolina