Al Sharpton just may be right about the need to remove offensive statues from the American public way.
I’d been somewhat torn on the idea of erasing history by tearing down statues, even Civil War Confederate statues, since destroying public imagery and iconography isn’t the kind of thing Americans do.
Actually, it’s the kind of thing that ISIS does.
But Sharpton, the noted race hustler, helped me see things in a different way.
Usually, I don’t listen to him. But he was interviewed on the Charlie Rose program and talked compellingly about the need to remove statues of white men of the South who fought in the Civil War for a South that wanted to keep slavery.
He said, rightly, that such statues are offensive to many African-Americans.
But he also said that such images should be removed, perhaps taken to private museums.
Sharpton also added that public funding of other offensive reminders of America’s racist past, including the Jefferson Memorial, should stop.
“When you look at the fact that public monuments are supported by public funds, you are asking me to subsidize the insult of my family,” Sharpton said. “And I would repeat that the public should not be paying to uphold somebody who had that kind of background. … We’re talking about, here, an open display of bigotry announced, and over and over again.”
Thomas Jefferson, founding father, is the author of the Declaration of Independence, widely considered to be the most eloquent appeal for human liberty that has ever been written.
But Jefferson was also a slave owner who repeatedly raped one of them. That’s history.
As an African-American, Sharpton believes that using federal tax dollars to subsidize the Jefferson Memorial is wrong. And even though the flames of Cultural Revolution are burning hot, you can understand this.
History is important, but history can also be quite offensive.
But there’s one thing wrong with Sharpton. It’s not that he goes too far. It’s that he doesn’t go far enough.
Because if he and others of the Cultural Revolution were being intellectually honest, they’d demand that along with racist statues, something else would be toppled.
And this, too, represents much of America’s racist history:
The Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party historically is the party of slavery. The Democratic Party is the party of Jim Crow laws. The Democratic Party fought civil rights for a century.
And so by rights — or at least by the standards established by the Cultural Revolutionaries of today’s American left — we should ban the Democratic Party.
Not only get rid of it in the present, but strike its very name from the history books, and topple all Democratic statues of leaders who benefited, prospered and became wealthy by cleaving to the party. And shame Democrats until they confess the truth of it.
The Democratic Party’s military arm in the South was the KKK. The Democratic Party opposed the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, making the former slaves citizens of the United States and giving them the vote.
If the new Cultural Revolution was serious, wouldn’t it also demand that the Democratic Party be put in a museum somewhere, away from decent people, along with those Confederate statues?
We could put Democrats in exhibits, behind glass, watching white political bosses chomp cigars and pass out goodies for votes, as minorities were relegated, as they are today, to failing schools and lost educational opportunity and neighborhoods that have become killing fields for the young and old.
And in great museums, the Democrats could be studied, safely, without endangering the sensibilities of the children.
We might even peer down on an animatronic Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, once a leader of the KKK. And with him, prominent animatronic Democrats who, just a few short years ago, said wonderful, moving things about Byrd after his funeral.
That’s how it is with history. You can’t say the Democratic Party wasn’t the slavery party. It’s historical fact.
Just as it is also historical fact that the Republican Party was the party of abolitionists.
I mentioned this to a Democrat who was all for the removal of Confederate statues in the South, and I told him I wasn’t all that opposed, either.
He thought I was being sarcastic. But when I reminded him that his party was the slavery party, the KKK party, the anti-civil rights party from the 1860s to the 1960s, and should be put into a museum, he made a sour face.
“You’re really taking this satire too far,” he said. “The Democratic Party isn’t a statue. It’s an institution.”
If the Cultural Revolutionaries want to topple statues, they can be my guest. They’re so inflamed lately — and if you don’t believe it, just read the papers — that if you dare disagree with them, you run the risk of being denounced by their high priests as a bigot or as someone without moral character.
My guess is that most Americans are afraid of social punishment. So, the offensive statues will go, and then perhaps offensive iconography, offensive images, offensive books.
One book comes to mind. Let me quote a passage from it.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
George Orwell. “1984.”
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may send him email at email@example.com