If State Monuments Reveal What We’re Made Of, Don’t Mess With Texas

Every civilization erects monuments to the things its members wish to celebrate. It does us well to occasionally stop and reflect on the nature of these monuments and what they depict; they can reveal a great deal about the communities in which we immerse ourselves.

Texas is a different sort of place — while it’s now a state, it was once a nation for almost 10 years. A few other states also gave nationhood a go. 

Vermont had a rather cantankerous past. It got its start as a group of rebellious New York counties with a reputation for tarring and feathering New York tax collectors. It operated as a republic for 14 years through 1791 though no nation recognized it. As the Revolutionary War started to turn against America, the state started to negotiate to rejoin the British empire as part of the Province of Quebec during the Haldimand Affair — but the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781 put an end to that. 

The Republic of West Florida in present-day southwest Mississippi was a nation for just over two months until it was annexed by the U.S. in 1810. Hawaii had a republic for a few years after its monarchy was overthrown in 1893 with the help of some U.S. Marines. 

And California was a republic for all of 25 days until it was handed over to a U.S. military governor for safekeeping amid the Mexican-American War in 1846.

My family moved from California to Texas in late 2011. Prior to that, I was a California state assemblyman for six years and was also in the California Army National Guard, retiring from reserve service as a lieutenant colonel in 2007. 

Now as part of my work for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, I frequently visit the Texas Capitol and its grounds, only two blocks away from the office. Recently, coming back from testifying before a committee, I noticed that Texas’ monuments had a decidedly martial air — with rifles, swords, pistols, and even several cannons. 

But it wasn’t until the bright last day of February when returning from a meeting with legislative staff and noticing an anti-Second Amendment rally on the steps of the Texas State Capitol that I got to thinking seriously about armed statues.

Recalling the state park around the California Capitol, I mused that if the statuary animated and it came to a scrape, the Texas Capitol’s monumental denizens would easily overpower California’s. So, as any history buff would do, I decided to test my memory and look up the statues around and in the capitols of America’s two most-populous states. 

Sure enough, of 12 life-size monuments depicting people, things, or animals on California’s Capitol grounds, four were armed. Of 26 life-size depictions on the Texas state grounds, fully 19 were armed or were actual weapons — giving Texas almost a 5-to-1 advantage in this department. 

States reflect the people who made them their home, the past and present, the conflicts fought within them, the geography, and other factors. Most American states are larger in size and population than many European nations. 

In Texas’ case, many of its first American settlers came from Tennessee, and many of those Tennesseans traced their roots to the Scots-Irish settlers from the Ulster area in Northern Ireland. They were a feisty lot. 

Texas fought 12 battles in its war for independence from Mexico. It won the first six, lost five in a row, including at the Alamo, and then won the last battle at San Jacinto. Texas then operated as an independent republic for almost a decade. 

California’s struggle for independence from Mexico lasted all of 10 days and, after much scheming and maneuvering, resulted in the sole battle of Bear Flag Revolt at the Battle of Olómpali in which 20 militiamen of the California Republic defeated a force of 50 Mexican infantry backed up by 20 irregulars in what is now Marin County. The California republic lasted less than a month. 

So, how would a battle to take California’s Capitol go? 

Approaching from the west, the first signs of resistance would be offered by the California Peace Officers’ Memorial, with four officers equipped with handguns just across the street from the Capitol steps. 

The advance up the steps would be uncontested, and as the living statues broke into the rotunda, where once a statue of Christopher Columbus accepting his commission from Queen Isabella might have given pause — Columbus had a fine sword — alas, the statue, donated in 1883, was removed in 2020 in the wake of the violence surrounding the death of George Floyd in police custody. 

Outside the governor’s office, a large bronze grizzly bear might take a bite out of the attack — it was donated in 2009 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Moving through the Capitol into the 40 acres of the California State Capitol Park, Texas statues would encounter the greatest resistance. “El Soldado” of the California Mexican-American Veterans Memorial has a rifle, the soldiers in the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial can muster two rifles and a grenade, and the “Hiker” in the Spanish American War Memorial is also armed with a rifle. The battleship USS California has representation, but alas, it is only the ship’s bell rather than its dozen 14-inch guns. 

After that quick rout, the attackers can accept California’s surrender in the World Peace Rose Garden at the end of the California State Capitol Park.

In contrast, an assault on the Texas Capitol would exact a terrible toll on any attacker, whether they be marble, granite, bronze, or iron. 

Approaching the Capitol from the south, up Congress Avenue, the first sign of trouble comes from a lady with a cannon. Angelina Eberly was an Austin innkeeper who uncovered Sam Houston’s secret plot to remove the state archives from Austin to safekeeping in Washington-on-the-Brazos. Realizing that the loss of the archives would be bad for business, Eberly fired the cannon to rouse Austinites to the Texas Archive War. The archives were retrieved without further incident. 

Moving past Eberly and her six-pounder, a tremendous cannonade ensues — from real cannons! The Texas Capitol grounds feature two 12-pounder brass cannons dating to 1864, a wrought iron 12-pounder cannon, and two 24-pounder howitzers dating from the Texas Revolution. 

Then the small arms fire starts. No fewer than six monuments: Heroes of the Alamo, Terry’s Texas Rangers, Texas African American History, Tejano, Confederate Soldiers, and Hood’s Texas Brigade wield no less than 12 rifles, two pistols, a sword, a saber, a bayonet, and a large knife. Two more monuments, the Spanish American War and Gold Star Mothers, provide flanking fire from the west with two rifles. Meanwhile, the Goddess of Liberty coordinates the fight from atop the Capitol dome armed with a massive sword. 

Whatever’s left of the attacker, once inside the Capitol, now faces an angry Sam Houston, armed with a sword, and Stephen F. Austin, carrying a rifle. 

Breaking through to the north side of the Capitol, an entire Vietnam-era fire team could engage with a sniper rifle, two M-16s, an M79 grenade launcher, a light antitank weapon, three grenades, and bayonets. 

And if the fusillade from the Vietnam Veterans Monument wasn’t enough, the 9-11 era Price of Liberty Memorial would offer a parting shot.

The monuments surrounding the Texas Capitol serve as a reminder that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. 

Or, put simply: Don’t mess with Texas.


By Discarding Religion And Tradition, Modern Art Turns Men Into Morlocks

By Discarding Religion And Tradition, Modern Art Turns Men Into Morlocks

Pilate asked Christ, “What is truth?” Today, the question would be, “What is art?” Whatever the answer, it is not Hank Willis Thomas’ new monument to Dr. Martin Luther and Mrs. Coretta Scott King. 

Entitled “The Embrace,” the statue consists of two pairs of arms embracing each other — apparently, MLK and Mrs. King’s after the former had won the Noble Peace Prize — and nothing else. That would be disturbing enough. That the statue looks like a male appendage from certain angles only makes it worse. Not that this stopped Thomas from defending his monstrosity. 

“I think about the potential of The Embrace to be an inspiration for what monuments of the 21st century will look like … there has been a reckoning and conversation about what’s been done in the past, but really, we’re looking at the past as a gateway to the future,” the artist insisted. 

Some people were shocked at the statue’s unveiling, but nothing should shock us anymore, in politics or culture. In a world where a banana duct taped to a wall is considered “high art” and Italian scammers “artists” sell invisible sculptures, anything can and will happen. Since Marcel Duchamp turned a urinal over, signed it “R. Mutt,” and then insisted he was being censored when the Parisian Salon des Indépendants narrowly voted to exclude it from its annual exhibition, art has been on a steady decline.

Gone are the “Mona Lisas,” “Pietas,” “Starry Nights,” and even the dynamic, pulp art of Frank Frazetta, pieces that rescued viewers from the mundane and material and pulled them toward higher contemplation and action. Now crucifixes in jars of piss, Madonnas splattered in elephant dung, sharks pickled in formaldehyde, feminist monsters, piles of bricks, and regular wooden sheds are all praised by the art commune and the self-professed enlightened as breathtaking commentaries, bold truth-to-power statements, or “unique expressions of individuality.”  

If art were only about pretty things in public squares, parks, and obscure museums, this would be annoying, another example of “liberals are stupid and crazy,” but nothing beyond that. But then, there wouldn’t be any reason to get upset over a pair of giant arms that look like a sex toy. Art is much, much more than that because it is what sacralizes the world. 

The historian Christopher Dawson argued that religion was at the core of every society and civilization. Because man was a rational animal, he was also a religious animal, whether he worshipped natural forces, incarnate and transcendental principles, the god of Abraham, or economics and science.

If religion is the heart of every civilization, the art of that civilization is its blood, the flow of creativity which pumps life to every part of the society by incarnating the religion (mixed with a specific people’s history, language, and customs) and the virtues praised by the religion. Without the religious beliefs of ancient Egypt, there would be no pyramids, physical manifestations of the sun god’s rays; without belief in the Olympians, the Greeks would not have invented the theatre, the space where the gods interacted with mortal men; without Christianity, the medieval cathedral, heaven carved out in stone and glass, would have stayed a pipe dream. 

The art didn’t have to be physical, either. The ballads of Robin Hood and the stories of King Arthur were written to give life to the ideal knight and ideal folk hero, platonic forms which personified the virtues expected of nobles and commoners within the parameters of specific Christian societies. And these incarnations did as all incarnations do: They made the ideal tangible, not by diffusing it or diluting it, but by shining through the finite material used to incarnate them. The “Mona Lisa” isn’t just a brilliant painting of a woman with a mystic smile but a contemplation of the mystery of the feminine; the “Riace Warrior” statues accomplish the same for the nature of the masculine.

By allowing the transcendental to be touched, art defends people from entropy; it allows people to ground themselves, make sense of the world, and tell the world and themselves who they are, where they come from, and their telos. The American founders attached themselves to the ancient Roman republicans through portraits and pseudonyms because the American Revolution was viewed as a replay of the ancient battle between liberty and tyranny. The early 19th century was the time of Johnny Appleseed and Natty Bumpo, perfect representations of a people moving into the frontier; Pecos Bill was the archetypical cowboy for the Old West; and the Shadow, Superman, and Batman were created in the ’30s in reaction to the depression and violent crime of that era.

The art changed from decade to decade and generation to generation, but that was because people participated in what T.S. Eliot called the “great labor” of tradition, in which the pastness of the past and its presence in the present were forged to create a novelty for the moment that spoke true to the present generation because it was true to them as a people and true to their religion. 

So what has happened to this artistic creativity? We can digitize the entire corpus of Bach’s work but can’t compose anything even in the same ballpark; we can make an entire metaverse out of pixels but not another Empire State Building; we can crank out “sitcoms” a la “Family Guy,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Velma,” but the fluidity and archetypal heroism of Max Fleischer’s Superman shorts are inconceivable despite animation being easier to produce than ever. There are only two choices: The people’s interest in art dried up, or the powers that rule us do not want us to have art. I put my money on the latter.

If religion is as inescapable as rationality (given that, by our nature, it is what we are), then creativity is also inescapable. But what is created can very much be controlled. And the powers that be want a world where cans of excrement and lights going on and off are the pinnacles of “art” for the very plain reason that an ugly society, a society with no spark, can be much more easily controlled.

Take a pop cultural example: “Star Trek.” The original series may be a manifestation of 20th-century liberalism, but it also tapped into the aesthetics and ethos of the Space Race, the Kennedyesque optimism which fueled it, and — most importantly — the old American mentality of frontier ruggedness and self-reliance while extolling classic virtues such as duty, courage, sacrifice, and friendship. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy were heroes everyone could look up to. Fifty-five years later, “Star Trek” is a canvas for dark dystopias (“Discovery” and “Picard”) and simultaneously fodder for cheap jokes (“Lower Decks”). The very thing that inspired a generation now indoctrinates their grandchildren into a perpetual sense of post-modernist cynicism.

Art allows us to become familiar with the transcendent, but this can manifest as either heaven or hell. The work of Hank Willis Thomas and his comrades, brutalist architecture, and the recently released film “Babylon” are all designed to surround us with Dante’s “Inferno.” By manifesting ugliness, hopelessness, and the creeds of wokeness in every museum, public space, and park (after removing actual heroes), the plan is to devolve us from man to Morlock, something subhuman which, because it has been deprived of beauty for so long, no longer has an understanding of it and can no longer treasure it, let alone appreciate it. Which, eventually, will lead us to accept the regime’s understanding of what is beautiful and good without question. Morlocks are easier to control, after all, than a society of powerful people like Frank Frazetta’s John Carter.

Ultimately, Thomas’ sculpture isn’t about MLK or politics. It’s about whether we want to be human.


Why Abraham Lincoln Still Towers Over His Critics

Why Abraham Lincoln Still Towers Over His Critics
Abe Lincoln

On a hot, cloudless spring afternoon on May 30, 1922, nearly 50,000 people assembled to witness the dedication ceremony of the Lincoln Memorial. Modeled after a Greek temple, the beautiful edifice was constructed with Colorado Yule marble and Indiana limestone with an immense Olympian-like statue of a tired Abraham Lincoln in a Roman-like chair. The distinguished audience included President Warren G. Harding, his cabinet secretaries, the justices of the Supreme Court, and the members of the memorial commission.

Fast-forward nearly 100 years to self-anointed moral guardians defacing a statue of Lincoln in San Francisco and woke students at the University of Wisconsin demanding the immediate removal of the one on their campus. Why has one of our most venerated leaders become the latest target of this puritanical mobocracy?

As we prepare to celebrate the centennial anniversary of our famous historical marker, it is illuminating and instructive to compare contemporary critiques with how Lincoln was regarded during his time. It says much about the failure of our education system to teach young people how to understand the past.

In his keynote address, Harding maintained that Lincoln’s greatness stemmed primarily from his devotion to the union and its preservation. It gratified him to dedicate “this superb monument to the savior of the republic.” Chief Justice William H. Taft dubbed it “a sacred religious refuge in which those who love country and love God can find inspiration and repose.”

How Leaders Handled Racism Then

Another high-profile speaker was Robert Russa Moton, president of Tuskegee University. Shamefully, his audience was segregated, with African-Americans shunted off to the side. Equally disgraceful was the Lincoln Memorial Commission’s censorship of his remarks.

In his original draft, Moton warned “that this memorial which we erect in token of our veneration is but a hollow mockery, a symbol of hypocrisy, unless we together can make it real in our national life, in every state, and in every section, for the things which he died.” Moton thereby challenged the nation to live up to Lincoln’s ideals lest the monument become a hollow vessel devoid of transcendent meaning.

Such brazen rhetoric was too much for Taft, especially for the dedication of a memorial in what was largely still a southern city. Moton had little choice but to comply, and the speech was revised for him. Gone were the condemnations of racism and its attendant poverty and hopelessness, replaced by praise for Lincoln as the healer and uniter and for the South and its role in sectional healing. One can scarcely imagine the gall Moton must have felt in having to praise a region then steeped in Jim Crow laws.

Why did Moton cave into such humiliating demands? He, like Lincoln, had to navigate through a perilous era. For African Americans, particularly in the South, the 1920s were the proverbial worst of times. One year before the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated was the infamous Tulsa race riot. Lynchings were still occurring throughout the region, and the majority of African Americans were relegated to sharecropping and menial jobs while also being disfranchised from the political system.

Yet Moton did not give in to despondency, instead declaring that black men and women were “proud of their American citizenship.” He movingly quoted from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural “Let us, therefore, with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right: as God gives us to see the right” — then added “let us strive on to finish the work which he so nobly began, to make America the symbol for equal justice and equal opportunity to despair.”

In other words, Moton did not give up on Lincoln or his memorial. As Martin Luther King Jr. would do a half-century later, he beseeched Americans to live up to the ideals and aspirations of the 16th president. The memorial could thus serve as inspiration to exhort white Americans to follow, in Lincoln’s famous words, “the better angels of our nature.”

Today’s Critics Are No Longer Prudent and Patient

Modern critics of Lincoln seem less able to adopt a nuanced view of Lincoln or to consider the historical milieu in which he operated. The social justice warriors in San Francisco and at the University of Wisconsin specifically cited the 1862 Dakota Uprising, after which Lincoln approved the hanging of 38 Native Americans by the U.S. Army.

As one activist wrote on social media: “It has to do with his role in the largest mass execution in US History. A story we were not taught in high school.” Sadly, what students are also not often taught is that history is frequently messy, complicated, and complex — with few, if any, characters in proverbial black and white hats. Such nuances are not effectively distilled into Twitter posts.

In fact, the Dakota Uprising provides an illuminating example of why a reevaluation of Lincoln — or any figure, for that matter — requires historical context. Lincoln faced relentless pressure on multiple fronts to rubber-stamp the execution of 303 Dakota Native Americans. Settlers sent multiple warnings they were prepared to not only kill the men but also women and children.

Minnesota Gov. Alexander Ramsey affirmed that “private revenge on the border” would occur if the death sentences were not carried out. Lincoln’s own Republican-controlled Senate, with the 1862 elections looming, passed a resolution calling for him to approve the executions.

Lincoln had to make this judgment during the midst of the Civil War when it was going poorly for the Union. He had also recently lost his 11-year old son, Willie, to typhoid fever. Nevertheless, Lincoln and his assistants expended precious time to assiduously review the transcripts.

In the end, Lincoln commuted 265 of the sentences. Writing to the Senate, he justified his decision by making a distinction between Native Americans who participated in “massacres” and those who engaged in “battles.” His riposte to Senate pressure was: “I could not hang men for votes.”

Lincoln’s final verdict reminds us of the often tragic nature of history. Leaders often face dilemmas in which no good alternatives exist. Choices that seem so obviously crystal clear to us from the perspective of our more comfortable 21st-century lives were murky for Lincoln, who was simultaneously confronting an existential threat to the republic.

Memorials invite us to imagine and wonder about the worlds that great men and women inhabited, as well as their life-and-death decisions at hazy and potentially deadly turns in the road. As we prepare to celebrate the centennial of the Lincoln Memorial, let us remember that the man it commemorates succumbed to heartache, indecision, and second-guessing, yet transcended them to envision a nation with “a new birth of freedom.”

Like Moton, Lincoln did not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Let us view the Lincoln Memorial not as a tomb to a flawless individual (a notion the self-deprecating Lincoln would assuredly have ridiculed), but as a step in Americans’ ceaseless quest for self-correction and expanding liberty.

Danton Kostandarithes earned a bachelor of the arts degree in classical culture from the University of Georgia and a master’s and Ph.D. in U.S. history from Tulane. He currently teaches high school history in Jacksonville, Florida.


Rhodes, Columbus and the next heritage battle

Rhodes, Columbus and the next heritage battle

On 12 October this year, Columbus Day, a statue of the Italian in Belgrave Square was vandalised by activists from Extinction Rebellion who described Columbus as ‘father of the slave trade’. Entirely ignorant of his life and ambitions, Columbus’s critics frequently turn to the searing denunciations of Bartolomé de Las Casas who excoriated the Spanish policy towards the native peoples of America. They are unaware that Las Casas was a great admirer of Columbus, and that this friar, who felt such pity for the native Americans, actively recommended the mass importation of black African slaves as an alternative labour source.

In the same week as the Extinction Rebellion stunt a new plaque was unveiled at Oriel College, below a statue of Cecil Rhodes. The sign described Rhodes as a ‘committed British colonialist’ who exploited the people of southern Africa. No mention was made of the Rhodes scholarship which he founded.

Both episodes highlight key problems with the now popular policy of ‘retain and explain’ – the idea that statues should be kept but given plaques which contextualise their legacy. ‘Retain and explain’ is a memorable catchphrase and has been a helpful way for public bodies to prevent statues being pulled down. Yet the problem is explaining how to explain. We can agree that monuments and objects should not be hidden away from their current position in public squares, museums or universities. How they came to be where they are is part not just of their individual history, as objects, but of the history of this country. Statues speak about social and political priorities at the time they were created and, even when myths about people immortalised in bronze have been dispelled, those myths have strong historical interest of their own. But what needs to be said on plaques accompanying a disputed monument?

FBfBqzBXoAEPhhO.jpegColumbus’ statue is vandalised by Extinction Rebellion (photo: XR)

Simon de Montfort is commemorated by a statue outside the parliament he supposedly created. The story of how parliament came into being is much more complicated; and he was a ruthless man, intolerant even by the standards of his time (encouraging a pogrom against the Jews of London, for instance). Oliver Cromwell, too, stands outside the parliament without which he proved happy to rule, as he did violently in Ireland. But both men played a crucial role in the history of the British Isles. ‘Explanation’ therefore requires consideration of a career in all its aspects, not concentration on what would now be seen as negative.

Often we can point to what would now be considered blemishes in otherwise notable careers, for instance attitudes that were shed later in life. If Gladstone did indeed sympathise with slave owners as a young man, that was not his opinion when he dominated British politics.

Arguments rage about whether accusations against figures in the past are soundly based in the evidence. There are different points of view about Palmerston and the Potato Famine or Churchill and the Bengal Famine. ‘Explanation’ requires the presentation of arguments from both sides.

Increasingly, though, people disagree with this approach. They argue that ‘there is no cancel culture so there is nothing to discuss.’ The argument that cancel culture is a figment of the right-wing imagination is the latest tactical move by those who would like to shut down debate. Yet that argument is easy to disprove. Crowds gathered outside Oriel College to demand the removal of a statue so high up that few people noticed it. Papers flew back and forth as the Fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge argued about a window celebrating the achievements of the geneticist Sir Ronald Fisher, accused of fostering eugenics. By all accounts the Fellows of All Souls expended much of their impressive brainpower arguing for and against the retention of the name ‘Codrington Library’, newly conscious of Codrington’s profits from Caribbean sugar.

The debate about the moral behaviour of people in the past is, then, very much alive. Historians should not spend their time weighing up past actions according to modern standards of morality. That does not mean it is unacceptable to describe the Atlantic slave trade or the Holocaust as horrific. Here there is general consensus. But there is absolutely no consensus about linking Nelson to the slave trade or, more generally, about the notion that capitalism is based on racism, whatever these terms are intended to mean. ‘Explanation’ therefore involves a resistance to fashionable group-think and a return to the hard evidence.

Producing a balanced account of a career in a few dozen words for a plaque that will go on public display is extremely difficult. That is why those in charge of ‘retain and explain’ should avoid controversy and stick to plain facts. Nor should these plaques be displayed solely next to controversial statues and monuments; that would single them out as contested sites, and often increase the clamour for their removal. The Haberdashers’ Company has agreed to expound the career of their controversial benefactor Robert Aske under his portrait in its livery hall; but all the other portraits will also have labels. That is the right decision.

Wokery may leave us with few uncontroversial sites: John Betjeman at St Pancras, perhaps; but even the statue of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station deserves an explanatory plaque to enlighten all those who are unfortunate enough not to have encountered a Peruvian bear on the streets of London.


UK: At Least 69 Monuments and Memorials Removed or Renamed Amid Ongoing BLM Mania

UK: At Least 69 Monuments and Memorials Removed or Renamed Amid Ongoing BLM Mania

At least 69 monuments and memorials in Britain have been removed, renamed, or altered after Black Lives Matter (BLM) swept the country, according to a Guardian audit.

The left-wing newspaper “estimated 39 names – including streets, buildings, and schools – and 30 statues, plaques, and other memorials have been or are undergoing changes or removal” since BLM unrest swept across the Atlantic from the United States to the United Kingdom and, lacking a George Floyd figure to rally behind, made Britain’s history and built heritage its primary target.

Victims of the purge include not only “slave traders” such as Edward Colston, a once-revered Christian philanthropist, parliamentarian, and merchant who, being born in 1636, had some business links to the slave trade, has had his statue in Bristol ripped down by a mob, a stained glass window memorialising him taken down by the Church, and several buildings named in his honour rebranded.

They also include figures such as Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, in his day — the 18th century — something of a progressive figure, now cancelled by his alma mater for expressing some views considered politically correct by 21st-century standards — and Sir William Gladstone, celebrated as one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers until recently, now cancelled because his father had a financial stake in Caribbean plantations which used slave labour prior to abolition.

There are many more monuments and memorials not taken down by woke public officials, institutions, and businesses which have been vandalised or otherwise targeted by BLM activists and rioters.

Among the most well-known targets are the Cenotaph national war memorial to the ‘Glorious Dead’ of the world wars and subsequent conflicts, the statue of Sir Winston Churchill — repeatedly defaced with graffiti branding him a “racist” — in Parliament Square, and a statue of Queen Victoria in Leeds, daubed with pejoratives such as “whore”, “slag”, and “slave owner” (which is historically inaccurate).

“If the government is really concerned about inequality and racism, they would be the first to say yes, let’s put these statues in a special museum dedicated to crimes against humanity and stop glorifying people publicly,” said Hakim Adi, a black professor at Chichester University, in comments to the Guardian.

“But they take the opposite view,” he said, referencing belated efforts to pass legislation making it harder to remove memorials.

“So then you have to question everything they say about wanting a more just and equal society, a society without racism, because it’s just hypocrisy,” he added.

“There’s the danger that the statues will go down and plaques will be removed, but the racist structures remain,” remarked Robert Beckford, who the Guardian describes as a “professor of black theology”, offering the removals a cautious welcome but hinting strongly that they are not enough.

“I’m interested in a holistic response that enables us to keep in balance a recognition of how and why these statues were erected” he explained.

“And secondly, how we then deem the history in a way that is inclusive and just and providing us with a vision of what it means to be a multicultural, multi-ethnic nation.”

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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Statue of freed slave kneeling in front of Abraham Lincoln in Boston is removed

Statue of freed slave kneeling in front of Abraham Lincoln in Boston is removed

A statue of a freed slave appearing to kneel before former President Abraham Lincoln in Boston was removed Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reports via The New York Post.

Early Tuesday, workers took down the Emancipation Memorial, known also as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman’s Memorial, from a park near Boston Common where it had been since 1879.

Back in late June, after criticism toward the design of the bronze statue amid the renewed national discussion around racism and police brutality this past summer, city officials had agreed to remove the memorial. Earlier that month, Mayor Marty Walsh (D) recognized that the statue made both fellow Bostonians and visitors “uncomfortable,” the AP notes.

The statue of Lincoln and the freed slave is a copy of a monument that was put up in Washington, DC three years prior. Because Boston was home to the statue’s creator, Thomas Ball, the statue was erected there.

While freed Black people funded the original memorial in the nation’s capital, white politician and circus showman Moses Kimball bankrolled the copy in Boston. On both memorials, the inscription reads: “A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors.”

Created to commemorate the freeing of slaves in the United States, the statue was based on an escaped slave named Archer Alexander, who assisted the Union Army and was the last Black man recaptured under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

There have been differing interpretations as to the exact meaning and message of the now-removed memorial. While some people perceived the shirtless freedman as rising to his feet as he shakes off the broken shackles around his wrists, others saw him as kneeling before Lincoln, his white emancipator, the AP explains.

Prior to Tuesday’s removal of the statue, over 12,000 individuals had signed a petition urging it be taken down and the public arts commission of Boston voted unanimously for its removal. The statue was to be held in storage until the city determines whether or not to exhibit it in a museum, the AP reports.

“The decision for removal acknowledged the statue’s role in perpetuating harmful prejudices and obscuring the role of Black Americans in shaping the nation’s freedoms,” the commission said in a statement posted on its website.

Since at least 2018, the controversial statue had occupied the city’s mind. That year, Boston commenced an extensive review into if public sculptures, monuments, and other artworks reflected the city’s diversity and didn’t offend communities of color, according to the AP. The arts commission said it was paying extra attention to works with “problematic histories.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.


Anti-Religious Bigots Are Using Riots And COVID To Go On A Church Vandalism Spree

Anti-Religious Bigots Are Using Riots And COVID To Go On A Church Vandalism Spree

In the chaotic year of 2020, anti-religious activists have learned that the best place to hide is in a crowd. With news cycles crowded by COVID-19, nationwide protests and riots, a contentious election, and much more, such activists were given perfect cover to vandalize houses of worship across America while drawing little criticism from secular media or public officials. These tragic acts of vandalism matter, however, and the motives behind them deserve examination.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently reported at least 39 incidents of vandalism on Catholic Church property since June 22. This alarming number makes sense given the Catholic Church’s history of statuary and the frequent targeting of statues in this year’s riots.

In addition to incidents such as satanic graffiti on a church in Connecticut, and a Florida man driving his van into a church before lighting the vehicle on fire, numerous church statues of JesusMarysaints, and even a monument for children killed by abortion have been toppled, beheaded, and graffitied. That’s not all. The many incidents on church property detailed by the Conference of Catholic Bishops don’t account for the numerous statues of Catholic saints on public property that have been vandalized, too.

In St. Louis, large groups of sometimes-violent protesters graffitied the prominent public statue of St. Louis (King Louis IX), the city’s namesake, who frequently shared meals with beggars and ministered to other outcasts such as lepers, the blind, and even prostitutes.

The violence went further in California. Protesters destroyed a statue of St. Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary who founded many historic churches (one of which was largely burned down in July) and evangelized thousands of Native Americans. Additionally, as Pope Francis noted when he canonized Serra in 2015, “Junipero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.”

Certain elements of the race-related protests this year have surely been honest, well-intentioned efforts, but that cannot be said of this violence that has treated St. Junipero and St. Louis the same way it has treated Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Instead, a subgroup of radical secularists among the rioters has used the recent lawlessness as an opportunity to advance their own agenda — one that opposes Judeo-Christian religion in its entirety.

While Catholic statues have been a convenient target, these radicals haven’t chosen to destroy religious figures at random. Their animosity toward faith traditions is intended. As you might recall, rioters set fire to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., this past May. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, rioters graffitied “Free Palestine” at a Jewish synagogue. Further examples abound.

Even more tragically, many people of faith have watched this vandalism while being prohibited from stepping inside their own houses of worship, sometimes due to anti-religious discrimination from government officials. One prime example is Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s COVID-19 order, currently being challenged in court, which allowed casinos to open at half capacity while limiting churches to just 50 people.

As Archbishop Charles Chaput and Alliance Defending Freedom CEO Michael Farris pointed out, some officials implementing discriminatory restrictions have also been slow to protect the church property from rioters. As our nation wrestles with challenging issues, officials such as Sisolak and anti-religious rioters are forgetting that successful social movements — including the civil rights movement for racial equality in the law — don’t attack religion. Rather, they are usually rooted in it.

The American Revolution and the French Revolution provide a relevant history lesson. These two movements shared some noble goals, both seeking freedom from national theocracy and monarchy — but those ends were pursued in two very different ways.

The French Revolution was outright hostile toward religion. Church property was vandalized. Priests were arrested just for conducting their normal ministry. Religious statues were removed from the public eye and sometimes demolished because religious devotion threatened the aims of the revolution.

Our Founding Fathers chose a better path. They cared deeply about religion and forged a new nation where people of various faiths could live peacefully without coercion from an all-powerful central government. The founders’ success in winning independence, reforming our governance, and improving American life was rooted in a commitment to free speech and Judeo-Christian principles that fostered a true tolerance.

Whether it be responding to COVID-19, police brutality, or political unrest, the solution to our nation’s present problems will not be found in throwing out those principles of liberty and civility. The answer lies in recommitting to them and working to live them out more fully, more consistently, and more devotedly than ever before.


Majority of Britons Believe Black Lives Matter Has Increased Racial Tensions

Majority of Britons Believe Black Lives Matter Has Increased Racial Tensions

An outright majority of Britons believe the Black Lives Matter movement has increased racial tensions, along with a 44 per cent of people from ethnic minorities.

According to an Opinium survey of over 2,000 people, some 55 per cent of Briton’s believe Black Lives Matter has made race relations in society worse rather than better. The remaining 45 per cent of respondents were not all actively opposed to this idea, either, with the figure for people who actively disagreed standing at just 17 per cent.

The proportion of white people who believed BLM had inflamed matters was slightly above the national average, while the proportion of Conservative voters with that believe was an astonishing 70 per cent.

This illustrates what may be a growing gulf between Conservative voters and Conservative party politicians on BLM-related issues, with the government having been somewhat limp and permissive in its attitude towards the group’s activism and ideology, and even attempting to appease it — with Home Secretary Priti Patel declaring that “Mandatory training is being introduced for new and existing members of Home Office staff to ensure that everyone working in the Department understands and appreciates the history of migration and race in this country” in July, for example.

The Guardian quoted the director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education based at the University of Birmingham, Professor Kalwant Bhopal, as saying that the poll suggests the Black Lives Matter movement has made some white people “feel their privilege is being threatened and questioned”.

“When they see something like BLM they do what they can to protect it and there is a backlash,” she speculated — although this would not account for why so many ethnic minority respondents said they believed BLM had inflamed tensions, too.

Speaking to Breitbart London in September, schoolteacher and campaigner Calvin Robinson, of the Defund the BBC and Don’t Divide Us campaigns, said that “Every time I’ve spoken out against BLM using CRT [Critical Race Theory], they attack me with racially derogatory terms.”

“Apparently, black people must all think the same way. If we go off-script, we’re race-traitors, ‘Bounties’, and ‘coons’. It seems BLM don’t support racial equality after all, because if they did, surely they’d encourage diversity and expect black people to hold many different views across the political spectrum,” he suggested.

Breitbart London reporter Kurt Zindulka recorded a BLM activist giving a speech in which he railed that intersectionalism “means recognising that there is one common enemy: the white man” and that “we need to get rid of them.”

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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