In Lebanon, Tennessee, a group of veterans got wind of a rumor that their local war memorial was going to be targeted for toppling by protesters.
Instead of sitting around and watching footage of it on the nightly news, wondering if the statue-toppling could have been prevented if we only listened more closely to the property-destroyers, they decided to do something about it.
They got their rifles and they started keeping watch.
“A show of force can be a very powerful deterrent. We’re not here to fight, unless we have to,” Keith Sikora, one of the vets keeping watch, told WKRN-TV in nearby Nashville.
“It’s a big target because who else gave more for this country than the ones who gave their life? And if you’re on the other side and you hate this country, the way they’re portraying the way they hate it, this is the best target to hit.”
Sikora began the watch on June 22. He’s since been joined by others, including fellow Marine Corps vet Joe Hester.
Hester made it clear they weren’t being violent or racist, because apparently that’s something you need to do in 2020.
“I’m not here to promote violence. I’m not here against any race whatsoever. I’m for all good people and all good things in this country and preserving them,” Hester said.
He also expressed frustration with those who necessitated his presence at the statue.
“What I’ve seen across the nation in certain cities — these violent thugs all in the name of being against racism, attacking innocent people, burning down cities, destroying communities and intimidating innocent people — has angered me so much that I’m tired of sitting back and talking about it,” Hester said.
Sikora pointed out one of the great ironies of destroying memorials to the war dead in the name of fighting racism.
“I went and served this country for the country and everybody in it. My Marines and I, we’re not black, we’re not white, we’re not Mexican or Chinese. We all call each other green — different tone of green, but we’re all green. That’s how we were trained, that’s how we think, that’s the way we are now,” Sikora said.
“We don’t stand against any particular race. We stand for them. We stand behind the Constitution that all men are created equal, and we will fight and die for that.”
“These people aren’t coming here with just words. … These are people who are trying to tear down this country. That’s what I stand against.”
The standard conservative line against historical revisionism via statue-toppling is that once you start at more historically dodgy figures, you end up at Washington and Jefferson.
We were wrong, however.
In the febrile atmosphere of recent weeks, protesters have gone beyond the Founding Fathers. In fact, that’s considered the basement of the mob’s demands, the bare minimum of what they’ll accept. If you don’t mind, however, they’d prefer you get rid of a lot more. (They’d prefer it if you do mind, too.)
In Boston, the city’s famous Emancipation Memorial replica is being taken down because it shows Abraham Lincoln with a black man, his chains recently broken, on his knees.
“As we continue our work to make Boston a more equitable and just city, it’s important that we look at the stories being told by the public art in all of our neighborhoods,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
“After engaging in a public process, it’s clear that residents and visitors to Boston have been uncomfortable with this statue, and its reductive representation of the Black man’s role in the abolitionist movement. I fully support the Boston Art Commission’s decision for removal and thank them for their work.”
The original statue in Washington, D.C., was funded by donations from former slaves. But never mind that. Former slaves: officially canceled. You should have realized you were brutalized and taking on the identity of your colonizers, or whatever.
In St. Louis, meanwhile, protesters want a statue of St. Louis taken down.
King Louis IX of France, a canonized saint in the Catholic Church, is ripe for cancellation because he took part in the Crusades, among other faux pas. He really should have checked his privilege during his reign between 1226 and 1270.
— Robert Cohen (@kodacohen) June 27, 2020
Here was a priest explaining the history of St. Louis and being shouted down:
— Joel Currier (@joelcurrier) June 27, 2020
Notice the rejoinder when the priest said the crowd could educate itself by going to the St. Louis Cathedral: “Eventually, we’re taking that too, though.”
That may have gotten laughs, but it’s not really a joke. They’re going to be coming for that too, in all likelihood.
The goalposts have shifted so dramatically that Catholic saints and replicas of statues funded by freed slaves are considered legitimate targets.
The discouraging part of all of this is there are plenty of conservatives who don’t understand the importance of holding the line against these protesters. Give them Columbus, some say — it’s not worth the argument. We’re not going to win this one.
And yet, more people are on our side than we know. These attempts to stand athwart history yelling “woke!” is prima facie ridiculous.
Let these veterans be a lesson that standing up for what’s right isn’t racist, hidebound or regressive. Instead, it’s what this moment desperately requires.
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