The Left's Progressive Pilgrimage

If anyone had doubts about progressivism being a religious movement, those doubts should be laid to rest by a recent article in New York magazine dedicated to promoting a pilgrimage of faithful liberals to secular shrines dedicated to “equality:”

“Need a spiritual vacation? A new ad and tourism campaign from New York takes you on a road trip through the state’s historic equal-rights monuments, from Manhattan’s Stonewall National Monument to Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn. The campaign, announced today by Governor Andrew Cuomo, is running in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State.”

The ad for the proposed pilgrimage of the faithful features a mother and a daughter visiting the home of Susan B. Anthony. The daughter’s worshipful gaze resembles that of an acolyte looking at a crucifix.

Some may recall St. Andrew Cuomo, who in a secular interpretation of St. Patricks’ expulsion of snakes from Ireland, attempted an exorcism of people who were pro-life and pro-gun from the sacred soil of New York. If he had been able to put his threat into action as did kings of old, Cuomo, who considers himself Catholic even though he is almost violently pro-abortion, may have imitated Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes, effectively sentencing conservative and religious New Yorkers to exile or worse.

At the same time the newly established holy sites of progressivism are being promoted with an assiduity similar to priests’ promotion of the Christian ceremony of the stations of the cross, progressives continue their campaign to rid the South of anti-progressive graven images.

Pilgrims of the faith, masked and wearing bulletproof vests, are busy taking down offensive monuments. In New Orleans, a Jefferson Davis monument is now gone. A statue of Robert E. Lee is being removed from public view and put into a museum lest a monument to racism and lack of diversity offend passersby. It’s as if the honorable and brilliant Lee, who decided to fight for his homeland of Virginia, not slavery, was the equivalent of Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin all rolled into one. Evidently monuments to Northerner William Tecumseh Sherman are to remain in place, despite his contributions to total war, a concept anathema to faithful progressives.

What such activities amount to, of course, is erasure of history in order to reinforce what progressives see as the sole and only legitimate narrative of the South’s past and of history in general. For progressives, the South remains always in Deliverance mode, with inbred and degraded whites in remote regions of Georgia hanging on to cousin marriage, perversion, violence, and old time religion. Mississippi is always burning. The Bible Belt remains inherently racist.

It is not the first nor the last time competing paradigms of religious/political thought resulted in destruction of monuments deemed as representing heretical views. Jacobins plotted to blow up Notre Dame. French revolutionists succeeding in demolishing the great Abbey of Cluny while plundering its treasures. Bolsheviks destroyed icons and blew up Orthodox Russian cathedrals. Currently, ISIS vandalized the ancient city of Palmyra and destroyed one of the most ancient and venerated monasteries in the world. The Islamist organization also plotted to obliterate Notre Dame.

One of the most recent ISIS inspired attacks involved the desecration of the ancient, historic church Of San Marino ai Monti, Italy by a Muslim immigrant from Ghana, whose rampage was recorded by the building’s security cameras.   

A bit of history is in order, as attacks on monuments involve more than just the joy of smashing things. Attacks on historic monuments are attacks on the ideas, history, and peoples they represent. They involve the destruction of history and of cultural and spiritual paradigms that are foundational to a given culture.

The basilica of San Marino ai Monti the ISIS-inspired culprit vandalized was founded in the 4th century and initially was devoted to all the martyrs slaughtered for their faith during the centuries preceding the building of the basilica. It was within this ancient building a meeting in preparation for the Council of Nicaea was held in 324. The current building dates from the Carolingian era. It stands as a monument to the history of the Christian faith and to Christians themselves. The attack on San Marino ai Monti was clearly an attack against Christianity itself.

In a similar manner, here in the United State, the smashing or removal of monuments on which the Ten Commandments are engraved reflect an animus far deeper than sheer vandalism would indicate. Rather, the attempts to obliterate such monuments are actually efforts to symbolically and truly to destroy the Western foundations of law and morality centered in Judaism and Christianity. The ideology of progressivism is to prevail, and its rituals, pilgrimages, monuments, and statues are to replace what has been and continues to be destroyed.

Of course, tyrants never stop at destruction of monuments and statues. Symbolism is the spiritual language of real people, of humans who have strong and often unbending faith. The targeting of offending monuments is nearly always followed by targeting people. It was only a short time ago that ISIS sympathizers slit the throat of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel as he celebrated mass.

The last stage of persecution exemplified by attacks on and destruction and defacement of revered monuments historically is exile to the backwaters of civilization and/or the extermination of the peoples whose beliefs are represented by these monuments, be they statues of people whose beliefs are deemed offensive or documents or slabs with Ten Commandments written on them. Banning the Bible from public schools and the military, for instance, is followed by persecution of professing Christians. Creation of sacred spaces on campus means others are kept out, by force if necessary. Defacement and destruction of Jewish synagogues and grave sites presaged the increasing persecution of Europe’s Jews.

In the short and the long run, taking down the statues of Robert E. Lee, destroying slabs with the Ten Commandments engraved on them, plotting to blow up Notre Dame, destroying the city of Palmyra, and vandalizing Christian churches all have one impetus behind them: No voice or history other than one must be heard or read. Society must be a monoculture free of contradicting or opposing voices.

History has shown and current times still reveal what such monocultures look like and how their leaders behave. They look like Soviet Russia. They resemble Pol Pot’s Cambodia. They have the face of present day Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.

All were and are places where only memorials to tyrants were and are allowed. All were and are places where history -- in all its ragged glory and ignominy, with all its heroes and villains, in all its exaltations and degradations -- is erased in order that mere banality of evil prevail.

God forbid America would imitate such countries.

Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She may be reached at