The random destruction of historic monuments, as a reaction to racism, is a growing threat to the nation’s history and its laws. Last week’s tantrum displayed by Raleigh protestors as they pulled down a Confederate statue was an example of the “heckler’s veto” which prevents public discussion. Sadly, the governor who should have stood against this childish destruction showed no courage or understanding of the pattern it is setting for future political and social discourse.
Friday night, Governor Cooper, failing to act either out of fear, disinterest or maybe political intent, allowed protestors to pull down bronze statues representing Confederate soldiers that have stood on the State Capitol grounds for over 100 years. One of the statues was hung, lynching style, from a light post after it was pulled from its base.
Cooper could have directed the Capitol Police, who work for his Department of Public Safety, to stop the mob tantrum. Instead he chose to stand silent, similar to the very statues being removed.
Saturday, Governor Cooper ordered the remaining three Confederate monuments removed from the Capitol grounds. He did so contrary to state law which requires approval from the state historical commission before any historic monuments can be moved. The reason given was for “public safety” since it was obvious the public was in a riotous mood.
Since that event the city of Greenville has removed a Confederate monument from the city’s courthouse square. In contrast to the removals of the monuments in Raleigh, done during daylight hours, Greenville leaders chose to do the removal between midnight and 5 a.m. Monday- a time frame that would “not interrupt activities” at the courthouse according to officials.
For the past ten years the governor and public leaders have expressed concern about bullying in our schools but now it is being accepted and in some cases actually promoted by political leaders as rioters tear down public displays and commandeer whole communities such as in Seattle, Washington. So are we to assume the concerns for civility are only important for children?
What does all of this get us? How do any of these actions improve the situation? None of these questions has been asked and as a result no answers provided. But the events of the past month show an anarchist movement begging for attention from political and community leaders. Attention that is woefully lacking.
The removal of statues has gotten to the point of comical. Now the famous statue of Theodore Roosevelt in the front of the Museum of Natural History in New York City is being removed because it is an example of imperialism. The fact that he led to the establishment of this renowned museum or that he is credited with the national park system, and of course was our 26th president is of no importance. Imagery and the subsequent assumptions of victimhood (the Roosevelt statue shows him sitting astride a horse with a Native American and African American standing on either side) are what count.
Another absurdity is the attack on the statue in London, England of Sir Winston Churchill who is arguably the greatest statesman of the 20th Century for his stand against Nazi Germany. Ironically his detractors describe him as a fascist as well as an imperialist.
All of this is an indication that there really is no focus on the supposed issues of racism. The anarchists are simply pushing community and government leaders to find the stopping point. The efforts began unofficially in 2011 with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement when protestors occupied and befouled Zuccotti Park in downtown New York City for two months. The occupiers were eventually dispersed by police in riot gear, at the direction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but the effort successfully proved that anarchism would be tolerated
The assumption that this childish and destructive behavior will soon go away is wrong. On the contrary bullies are emboldened by cowardly reticence. Just as a child will continue to “act-out” and in the process become incorrigible, so too will these rioters who are disingenuously promoting themselves as peaceful protestors.
There is no question that social, economic and cultural changes are occurring. What is being questioned is who is really providing leadership in these difficult times. For sure we have one leader, Governor Cooper, who is standing silent as he did during the riots on the State Capitol. The question to be answered is why?