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June 19, 2020
Purging History Isn't ‘Woke,' it's Stupid. Dangerously Stupid...
Imagine if Germany purged its records, history books, and museums of the atrocities Hitler committed, because imagery of starving Jews, or mass graves filled with recently gassed men, women and children was seen as too "problematic." Imagine if one day Russia removed every image of Stalin, Lenin, or Marx if communism was ever seen as the true evil it is. Imagine if Central and South Americans cleared out their museums, streets, and halls depictions of Castro or Che Guevara. Bigger still, what would any of us say if Egypt demolished its pyramids? Because they were built by slaves.
We'd wag our fingers in judgement, if not cry from the tragedy of losing physical evidence and depictions of history referenced above. Yet today, liberal (mostly white) Americans are advocating we do exactly that.
In the past week, a statue of George Washington has been toppled, Christopher Columbus decapitated. The capitol removed images of former Speakers of the House who served in the confederacy. Who happened to all be Democrat. Quaker Oats is washing its brand of the classic Aunt Jemima. Last week, HBO Max removed from its platform the long, but classic Gone with the Wind. Before we know it, these same "open-minded" leftists will demand we tear down or rename the White House. They'll re-up their demand for a new currency which doesn't depict a Who's Who of Dead White Guys. Then finally climax by removing the American flag due to the "problematic" country for which it stands.
All because America's history, like every other country that has existed, contains injustice.
History is dirty because human beings are flawed. Yes, "flawed" is a softer synonym for terrible. Cleansing reminders of history from our present isn't improving the history itself. But it is committing the ultimate human mistake: making it possible —nay probable — that history will repeat itself.
How are we to learn from our mistakes if we've erased them?
Let me wax philosophical for a second. Every person who has ever existed has experienced some kind of turmoil. Every person who's overcome their personal turmoils has a greater appreciation for that which is good, and can look at him or herself with a sense of pride for overcoming that which challenged them.
Yes, American slavery was an evil America engaged in with eyes wide open. But America also ended slavery. Isn't that worth celebrating? We cannot laud the heroes of the abolition movement without remembering what it is they sought to abolish.
Yes, America has a racist past. But it also ushered in the civl right's movement. How can we honor figures like Martin Luther King Jr. without reading of Jim Crow? How can we, in 2020, understand the challenges black Americans faced if we remove every single racist depiction that was made of them before our culture made a correction?
There are no heroes without villains. There is no triumph without turmoil. No light without darkness.
Hindsight is 20/20. We repeat that axiom for a reason. It is stupid to apply 2020 standards to any year prior. Learning from our mistakes is growth. Erasing all evidence of those mistakes, for any reason at all, not only devalues the accomplishments of great men and women of the past, it excuses the acts of evil of its villains.
Our monuments, our statues, murals, portraits, and writings of men and women of history are windows into our past. It is flawed. But it is ours. What America was then shaped what America is now. What America is now will shape what America will become. We cannot explain or even be proud of (yes, PROUD) of who we are now if we cannot look back and see who we used to be.
Progress is best gauged by looking back, surveying the highs and the lows. Studying the struggles and tragedies. Reveling in the triumphs.
History matters. All history matters.
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