Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

While on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio show recently, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg admitted that he favored removing Thomas Jefferson’s name from events.

Buttigieg was specifically asked about the removal of the names of Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson from the Democratic Party’s annual dinner events.  He responded that it “was the right thing to do,” for both men were purveyors of “racism,” an evil that “isn’t some curiosity out of the past” but which is “alive,” “well,” and “hurting people [.]”

Buttigieg said that “one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse harms” produced by racism and slavery.

There’s a few critical points that must be made.

First, it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to American politics and who has the will and ability to do just the slightest bit of critical thinking that mainstream Democrats are now objecting to monuments to such American Founders as Jefferson.

The 20th century conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott wrote in his memorable essay, “Rationalism in Politics,” that, our self-delusions aside, political-morality does not consist of the “application” of eternal, immutable, premeditated “principles” to “problems” presented by ever-changing social circumstances.  Rather, it is tradition that always “intimates” possibilities for its development.

Consider it like this: The life of a society at any given moment is comprised of practices and modes of thinking—“trends,” we can call them for our purposes—that point more strongly in some directions than in others.

This being the case, we should now be able to discern that once Americans tolerated attacks on such American stalwarts as Robert E. Lee, they implicitly put the anti-American cultural cleansers on notice that they would tolerate as well attacks on America’s Founders.

If such white Southern secessionists as Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Jefferson Davis deserve to be vilified for having promoted “racism,” then that much more deserving of vilification are such white Southern secessionists as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.  By any objective measure, these three American presidents—Washington, the Father of our country; Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence; and Madison, the author of the United States Constitution—were significantly more “racist” than Lee, Jackson, and Davis.

Washington owned well over 300 slaves by the time that he died.  Jefferson is speculated to have owned over 600 throughout his life, and he didn’t free any of his slaves even in his death.  Madison owned over 100 slaves.

The most vocal apologists for the Founders—who are almost always one and the same people as those who either tolerate or contribute to attacks on Confederate heroes—can be counted upon to defend the Founders by noting that they did in fact recognize slavery as an evil.  This, supposedly, essentially gets them off of the hook and renders them worthy as objects of reverence.

Yet the heroes of the Confederacy like Lee, Jackson, and Davis also condemned slavery in the harshest of terms.  They too blasted it as an evil.  However, they are treated with no such leniency.

The point is this: Americans, particularly self-proclaimed conservatives, who insist upon acquiescing to attacks on the Southern secessionists of the second half of the 19th century have no one but themselves to blame for the attacks that are now being launched against the Southern secessionists of the last quarter of the 18th century.

And because the attacks on the Confederacy never had anything to do with the Confederacy, because they have always been Ground Zero in the left’s larger campaign to “fundamentally transform”—to destroy—America, we should expect that once Confederate monuments were safely disposed of, the cultural cleansers would turn their attention to previously untouchable targets, like America’s Founders.

Second, to know exactly the mindset of the anti-American virtue-signaler we should pose to him the following question:

Which is more immoral, the enslavement of Africans in America, the conquest of the American Indian by the European settlers, or the Holocaust?

This question hurls the Buttigieges of the world onto the horns of a dilemma—and there is no slipping between these horns.

On the one hand, if the virtue-signaler attempts to identify one of these people’s experience as worse than that of the other two, he or she would run the very real risk of being depicted as racially insensitive or outright “racist” toward the other two.

On the other hand, in saying something to the effect that each of these events is equally horrible, etc. the Buttigieges reveal that, from their perspective, the men who settled and founded America are morally no different than Adolph Hitler and his Nazis.

And if the men and women who settled and founded America are no different than Hitler and his Nazis, then neither are Americans like you and I who continue to celebrate the men and women who settled and founded America any different from Nazis.

This, in turn, brings us to the final point.

Third, the American Flag is the moral equivalent (or worse) of the Swastika.  As such, it deserves to be treated with the contempt owed to the latter.

And consider: If the Stars and Bars needed to be removed from the public square because the Confederate Flag flew over the institution of slavery for four years, then the Stars and Stripes, which flew atop slave ships and over a country where slavery persisted for an exponentially longer period of time, should be set aflame.

Yet it isn’t just the flag that needs to be retired: The very name of America should be as well.

After all, America is named after the Italian explorer—the white, Italian explorer—Amerigo Vespucci, a contemporary of Christopher Columbus.  What’s worse, it was a German Christian cleric—a white, German Christian cleric—named Waldseemuller who honored Vespucci’s accomplishments by naming the New World after him.

Since, though, America is, as another Democratic presidential candidate put it, a “crime scene” inasmuch as it the place in which Africans were enslaved and those formerly known as American Indians were “exterminated,” it would seem that racial justice requires that the country relinquish its name, which can’t but serve as a perpetual reminder to blacks and reds of the unrelenting oppression to which they’ve been subjected for hundreds of years.

We could continue endlessly in this same vein. The point, ultimately, is that by the logic of the contemporary leftist, like Pete Buttigieg, there can be no principled justification for resisting the foregoing proposals.

It’s time that the self-styled enemies of monuments to the Confederacy be forced to reckon with the inescapable implications of their anti-American ideology.

 

 

 

 

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