June 16, 2020

Canceling Our History

It’s no wonder that young people don’t love our country when they’re told to hate it.

Buried beneath news about sorry Supreme Court decisions and rebranded autonomous zones was this clear-cut sign of a sick society: a new Gallup poll indicating that U.S. national pride has fallen to a record low.

Most alarming of all is the poll’s finding that our young people — our future — are today less patriotic than ever, with just one in five adults between 18 and 29 declaring that they’re “extremely proud to be an American.”

But this isn’t a new phenomenon. Our Mark Alexander pointed it out a few years back when he recalled the words of our 44th president: “I believe in American exceptionalism,” declared Barack Obama back in 2009, “just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

A fish rots from the head. Or, as Jonah Goldberg put it back when he was still Jonah Goldberg, “Ultimately, it’s not that liberals don’t believe in American exceptionalism so much as they believe it is holding America back.”

So it’s no wonder that we find ourselves in this dismal spot. After all, we’ve spent the last three weeks deifying thugs, demonizing cops, and denying our shared past. We’ve been overcome by a Cancel Culture that sees “white supremacy” and “systemic racism” behind every tree and around every corner; a culture that declares our Founding Fathers irredeemable, and even our abolitionists unworthy.

“BLM,” said the spray can to John Greenleaf Whittier — the poet, Quaker, and anti-slavery activist for whom the California city is named. The rest of the graffiti is unprintable. But if you think this sort of vandalism is indefensible, you’d be wrong. Here’s Swarthmore College archivist Celia Caust-Ellenbogen: “It is important to acknowledge the reasons why the protesters are so frustrated. While Whittier is celebrated for his poetry and his activist legacy, there are numerous African American poets and activists of his era … who have received too little recognition. The statues in this country over-represent the influence of White people and under-represent the importance of people of color, especially African American people, in our nation’s history.”

Got that? It’s okay to vandalize our nation’s monuments if you’re “frustrated.”

The original Vandals were a Germanic tribe that spent 14 days plundering Rome toward the end of its empire days. This sacking of the Eternal City by barbarian tribesmen, and their wanton defacement and destruction of Rome’s magnificent statues and monuments, should give us pause. So should the lengths to which our academics and our elected officials will go to justify the vandalism in our midst today.

Today, it’s Robert E. Lee. But what about tomorrow? Will we rename our nation’s capital because its namesake, The Indispensable Man, was a slaveholder? What about renaming that trendy state to the northwest, the one with that same slaveholding Founder featured foremost in its flag?

Make no mistake: This effort to whitewash our nation’s history by defacing and destroying its statues and monuments will do lasting damage. Indeed, it already has. As Matt Walsh put it recently in The Daily Wire, “If we cannot be united around tradition, language, or heritage, and we also cannot be united around a shared belief in freedom and human rights, then what is left? We would appear to be, already, two different countries.”

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