A regular columnist for The Jonesboro Sun recently stole the words right out of my mouth, "... a society whose history is hated by millions of its members will not survive."
The columnist and I differ, however, in our outlook on the problem. If so many people hate the history, the answer probably does not rest on continuing, gloating reference to the history. It provokes increasingly irrational responses from those who see the fallacies in the history, and before you know it, it's not just Grant's poor old statue, but not even newspaper columnists can survive.
I wish that our columnist had taken an aside to give an accurate history of Grant's dealings with slaves he was "gifted" by in-laws since married women could not own property at the time), but that would not fit the limited point he was trying to make, that dominant white male American history is the only good history.
The column begins with cantankerous attacks on statue vandals and then remarkably links it to an unnamed "establishment" somehow not established enough to hold any authority except to help those pesky young people hate statues.
Our worthy old writer with the younger photo ID (another deceptive graven image) cites very few examples of why statues of whipped generals should occupy federal land already extorted from original settlers.
One example he gave was about Gen. Albert Pike, CSA. Part of the thin pillar of defense for maintaining the now-deposed Washington D.C. statue of Mr. Pike was that he "spent his years after the war doing good works ..." The statue towered over the Goddess of the Scottish Rite. Mr. Pike was a seminal, codifying member of the Rite. After his defeat, Mr. Pike abandoned his Southern home for the more genteel confines of Washington, D.C., where he could manage to influence the Rite's good works.
Good works cannot be denied, but exclusionary behavior is harder to trace. Our columnist does not mention that one of the Rite's (would Roman Catholics have a part in those good works?) founding (if unspoken — remember it's a secret) tenet that persons discovered to have a certain degree of colored (except for red) blood would not be admitted to the Rite or its underlying Masonic degrees.
The self-assumed fifth-column patriot defending Mr. Pike also omits reference to the veterans of the United States Army of the Republic's opposition to the erection of Mr. Pike's image from before its creation.
When referring to vandals, the columnist cannot bring himself to recall that the foundation stones of the United States of America, a nation created and governed by white men to the exclusion of all others, were deliberately exclusionary. Africans, women, Asians, local residents of a different look and language, Roman Catholics, Baptists — all were suspect and generally excluded from positions where decisions on benefits of governing power and treasury control occurred. What's to love about that part of the holy history?
We must see what victims see, that Europeans took early advantage over native families with that earlier Chinese virus — gunpowder — married to the biological melting pot wonder, the modern horse, and to Western European maritime technology, including the compass.
When enough land to support a family was not enough to satisfy these greedy people, the violent grabbing continued until only the oceans, deserts and frozen forests could stop it. I would call that land grab, the erasure of the sustaining benefits of nature, and the enslaved labor of Africans, Asians and anyone without land ownership or the ability to defend it, sins of our fathers which will continue to visit upon all generations who choose to profit from it.
We can ignore the prophets' calls to reckoning, but only at our own peril. Should we hate the misdeeds? Of course. Should we embrace and multiply the good works? Of course, again. But should we glorify and raise up the men who profited from the misdeeds, so that they and the seed of their loins could assuage their consciences with self-directed, exclusive charity? No.
The consequences for those delusions imposed on those of lesser advantage, those graven images of false comfort to the mighty, might be more than gunpowder and war machines can ever contain.
Rather than crying over spilled statues, we are better served to clear our eyes and see, really see, the professional vandals, those who steal our treasury, all our resources including our labor, our families and our lives, and laugh at us without any intent to ever, ever share our own largess in so much as a hygienic face mask. They speak words we wish were true, spreading false hopes they cannot deliver. They may even build statues and towers to glorify themselves into what they falsely believe will be eternity. We should not be expected to bow down.
Our future is not in statues, whether standing or fallen. Our better, greater future is in honesty, justice, mercy and humility. Humility, recognizing that we are not the biggest and best ever, will open our eyes to the worth of all our neighbors, and help us to love mercy, to do justice and speak the whole truth to each other.
The columnist has a point, but I reject it as based on the false doctrine of the higher power of graven images. Let's get on with real life for every living soul.