Those who try to erase history

I can't sympathize with the mob that toppled the statue of the Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina on August 14, in what is arguably a well photographed conspiracy to commit vandalism.  Sure, some people who want to keep the statue actually mourn the Confederacy's destruction and exude a lot of baseless hatred and bigotry toward their fellow citizens.  But such vestiges of the Confederacy should be preserved so that good people can learn from history.

In August 2015, ISIS destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin (Ba'al, for short) in Palmyra, Syria.  From ISIS's perspective, the temple was a pagan symbol of hate and an affront to Islam.  The temple dates back over 2,000 years, dedicated to the Canaanite god Ba'al.

If anything, it would have been more fitting if the Jews, not ISIS, decided the Temple of Ba'al's fate.  Well before the advent of Islam, Canaanites were archenemies of the Hebrews.  But if the Temple of Ba'al still stood today, the Jews would likely have favored its preservation, much as they painstakingly excavate Canaanite artifacts and structures across Israel (see hereherehere, and here for some examples).  The Temple of Ba'al was a priceless and unique window into the past, a glimpse into the early influences on Western civilization.  Now the world can't see it.  ISIS took that possibility away from us.

In Charlottesville, white supremacists proudly carried Nazi flags.  If the Nazi flag is not the world's most hateful symbol, then what is?  But public display of the Nazi flag is permitted under the First Amendment.  Like the Confederate statues that dot the South, the public display of Nazi flags remind Americans that the past is not always so rosy, that evil perennially appears in this world, and when it does, it is the obligation of good men (and women) to speak up.

If we remove hateful symbols, we become historical revisionists like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, China during its Cultural Revolution, and the Islamic State.  We become destined to repeat the sins of the past, because we deprived ourselves of the ability to remember them.