Seizing What We Hold Dear

The recent spate of iconoclasm against Confederate monuments is being heartily justified by both Democratic politicians and the news media, yet these same voices were singing a different tune just a short while ago. Anyone remember the flap over the artwork that Congressman Lacy Clay hung in the Capitol?

Back in January California Rep. Duncan Hunter drew cheers from conservatives when he took down a piece of, uh, artwork that was hung by Congressman Clay after the Ferguson riots. The student artwork depicted police as pigs in what was clearly an attempt to offend, yet Clay thought it worth desecrating the Capitol hallway with this. Hunter, disgusted by this brazen display of disrespect for authority, simply removed the offending piece.

Please note -- Hunter did not destroy the painting or vandalize it; he simply returned it to Clay, who put it up on the wall in his office.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"Clay told the Post-Dispatch this week that he would not take the painting down because it depicted the artist’s reality of his life, and because the First Amendment protects provocative art."

And in fact the congressman from St. Louis took it much further:

“By his unprecedented and unconstitutional action, following criticism of the artwork by Speaker Ryan and several GOP Members, the Architect of the Capitol acted to suppress the free speech rights of my constituent, and they have also sent a chilling message to young Americans that their voices are not respected, their views are not valued, and their freedom of expression is no longer protected in the U.S. Capitol."

So removing a vile and offensive painting from inside the Capitol is unconstitutional, but tearing down statues of Confederates isn't?

Clay led the charge to remove a Confederate statue in Forest Park in St. Louis, one that had been in place for decades. It was a part of our history.

Clay told the Post-Dispatch:

“Now is the time to replace the Confederate Memorial, as iconic as it is controversial, from its perch in Forest Park, Divisive, alienating, racially charged symbols do not accurately represent the goodness and fullness of the people of the city of St. Louis.”

And he, along with the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus, don't seem to see the hypocrisy. Like the pigs in George Orwell's Animal Farm, some are more equal than others. One wonders if the pigs in the painting do not really represent the more equal than others mentality of the race hustling industry?

Frankly the African American community should welcome these monuments as a living reminder of their deliverance from bondage. The Confederacy was as much a part of their history as it is of whites. And dishonoring Confederates dishonors those who defended their homes -- including the black Confederate soldiers and the Native Americans who allied with the Confederacy.

But this is not about protecting tender sensibilities so much as exorcising the memory of a nation. The Left wants a new America, one that was born just a few short decades ago and is very different from the one we knew.

When the city of Mecca fell to Muhammad's followers (after Muhammad broke the treaty of Hudaybiyyah and seized the city) one of the first things he did was to destroy the statuary to the pagan gods of the Quraish. This extended to the Ka'aba, the holy building itself:

Ishaq:552 "When the populace had settled down, Muhammad went to the Ka'aba and compassed it seven times on his camel, touching the Black Stone with a stick. Then he went inside the Temple. There he found a dove made of wood. He broke it in his hands and threw it away."

Ishaq:552 "The Ka'aba contained 360 idols which Lucifer had strengthened with lead. The Apostle was standing by them with a stick in his hand, saying, 'The truth has come and falsehood has passed away.' Then he pointed at them with his stick and they collapsed on their backs one after the other."

Ishaq:85 "The people were afraid to demolish the temple and withdrew in terror from it. Al-Walid said, 'I will begin the demolition.' He took up his pickaxe and walked up to Allah's House saying, 'O Ka'aba, do not be afraid. O Allah we intend nothing but good.' The he demolished part of it near the two corners."

What precisely was Muhammad doing when he took up his pickax and began doing demolition work?  He was destroying the memorials of the pagan peoples to erase their heritage. The Islamic world has been doing this ever since.

It wasn't enough to try to persuade people that his was a better way -- the people wouldn't listen. So Muhammad and his followers had to destroy all memory of a time before his coming.

Consider the desecration of Hagia Sophia when the Turks finally took Constantinople; they turned it into a mosque, wrecking statuary and overlaying the ornate paintings and plaster work so as to "disappear" the Christian memory. Consider the Taliban's destruction of statues to the Buddha, priceless artifacts that can never be replaced.

Oh, by the way, CAIR is fully in support of removing the Confederate war statues

Muhammad was hardly the first to discover the utility of erasing a nation's history.  The ancient Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu once famously stated:

"Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear"

And if you can destroy that which a people hold dear you can mortally wound them. Statues and monuments are vitally important to the transmission of a culture, because they remind a people of who they are and who they once were. It is not necessarily a celebration of virtue; certainly the Auschwitz concentration camp was not bulldozed because the public loved it. Auschwitz still exists because it serves a very important purpose, a remembrance of those who were murdered and a reminder to the public of what could happen again if they forgot.

And what did America of old hold dear? Well, the Civil War was a seminal moment in our nation's history, and both sides took pride in what they accomplished. Even if one makes the assumption that the South was fighting to protect slavery, one must also look to the justifications for secession in the first place. The central government was growing too intrusive and powerful, and the South valiantly tried to restore the principles of limited government and states autonomy. They failed but they made a valiant effort. The Civil War was a disagreement over the role of government in life, and both sides were equally passionate. In many ways it was our finest hour, a time where all Americans had to live up to their values.

That is precisely why the Left is adamant about ridding the nation of the last vestiges of the Civil War. It is a constant reminder that America wasn't always a collectivist entity with an overly intrusive behemoth running our lives. Like the Muslims seeking to make the past disappear, our friends on the Left want the old America to disappear down the memory hole.

So we should not be too surprised by liberal hypocrisy in this issue. They want new legends, new heroes, new artwork, and they have never been obsessed with what Emerson called a "foolish consistency". Consistency is for their opponents. They have something better -- they have a shiny dream.  Dreams often lack consistency.

For this reason alone we should defend these statues and memorials as devoutly as the Left seeks their removal. They are part of who we are, and a people should not forget that. Forgetting makes us a malleable clay to be molded in the hands of tyrants.

Read more from Tim and friends at The aviary