Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Let’s not change what makes us uncomfortable. Let’s learn from it!

Change this! Get rid of that! America has a new mania where people try to remove statues and monuments they don’t like, that make them uncomfortable, or that they believe are bad. If a statue or a monument upsets people, it must be erased from the American landscape where it has existed for years or decades. 

In the process of soothing these feelings of discomfort, features of American history, some of them very important, will forever be removed to the trash pile, painted over, or stored in a warehouse somewhere, and lost to the generations that follow. 

These things can help future Americans learn about their country so that they will be able to understand its full history and evolution, both the best and the worst.

Instead of the full story of what built America, what will be left to future generations to learn from is whatever the existing culture deems important at the time. 

Some important elements in the history of the United States of America will be removed through this politically correct cleansing of America’s history, for no better reason than to soothe the discontented.

Included in the list of things from America’s past that have been targeted for removal from public view are: The Jefferson Memorial; Mount Rushmore; Stone Mountain; two Chicago Parks; and monuments and statues across the nation.

While the subject of some monuments may be a person or persons who may now be unpopular, the monument or statue itself may be a special achievement. 

Likewise, the people who are remembered and honored by prominent statues were not universally bad. The recent dislike of Thomas Jefferson, for example, is because he owned slaves. In fact, slavery is the reason for so much of today’s efforts to remove many statues and monuments.

Slavery is now universally condemned in the U.S., as it should be. And it is a dark period in the nation’s history. But for decades during slavery in the south, no one living at that time was alive when slavery did not exist in the southern states. Slavery wasn’t right, but it was the way things were; it was a regular part of life in the southern U.S.

The Jefferson Memorial honors America’s third president, and a Founder of our republic. Although Jefferson inherited slaves from his father and kept them throughout his lifetime, he also publicly denounced slavery. The totality of his life and work was not just being a slave owner. His work was critical to the formation of the country in which so many now are able to condemn him for owning slaves.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which began the struggle for freedom from the binds of British dominance, he was a critical part of America’s formation, and he had served as the nation’s second vice president before being elected president.

Surely this man’s great contributions to the formation of the United States of America are enough to warrant his remaining a part of the story, and not being removed from our history.

It took some 400 workers from 1927 to 1941 to produce the majestic figures on the rock face in the Black Hills of South Dakota known as Mount Rushmore. Those four were Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. 

Rushmore is an amazing tribute to workmanship as well as a unique work of art. It depicts four of our most notable presidents, all of whom had their faults, as do we all. But they are forever a part of our history. 

The carving on Stone Mountain in Georgia has similar assets. It is the largest high relief sculpture in the world. The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three figures of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The carving is 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain.

Like Mount Rushmore it is a tribute to workmanship, is a work of art, and features people prominent in our history who are now being condemned. 

Chicago has parks named for George Washington and Andrew Jackson that are also targeted for change. Someone has suggested changing Jackson Park to honor either modern civil rights figure Jesse Jackson or singer Michael Jackson, and also renaming Washington Park. However, both Washington and Jackson contributed much to our Country, and deserve their rightful place in history.

And there are numerous monuments and statues in North Carolina, Virginia and in towns and cities all across the nation that also are targeted. Each of them represents some contribution to the rich history of what was and still is the greatest nation yet conceived.

People mostly aren’t looking at the big picture. Our country has made mistakes, as all countries do. Each of us can think of things we would prefer weren’t part of our history. But erasing history is foolish.

Future generations can only learn from our successes and our failures if they know what they are. The good and the bad together form our history, and nothing less than the whole story is acceptable to tell America’s story.

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