I’m with Streetwise Professor here:
The battle over the monuments is not really about the monuments. It’s not even really about the legacy of the Civil War. It is about the left’s vision of what America was, is, and will be. Here’s the most important thing to remember. The hard-core left that is the driving force behind extirpating the icons of the Confederacy does not see it, or the Old South, as an exception, a deviation from an otherwise laudable and righteous history: they see it as just one manifestation of the fundamental evil of America, evil that is writ on every page of history from 1607 on down. In this worldview, the United States has been, from even before its formal beginning, characterized by racism, sexism, and oppressive capitalism. It is not something that is basically good, but which has fallen short of achieving its lofty ideals: it is something that is fundamentally rotten, and which must be transformed by any means necessary.
There is an argument to be had regarding the future of Confederate monuments and statues, but nobody wants that. The people calling for the removal of the monuments have no idea who Lee was and are probably incapable of understanding the complexities of the Civil War. The Confederate statues are simply the latest in an ever-expanding list of political demands issued by an unelected mob which, for now, appears to have the run of the place. Rest assured, if every Confederate monument was taken down and melted into scrap this evening, the mob would be on the streets demanding something else by lunchtime Saturday.
One doesn’t have to like General Lee, the Confederacy, or slavery to realise that clamping down on this poisonous and dangerous movement ought to be a priority for ordinary Americans. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to want to, perhaps believing the mob can be appeased, or contained, or kept away from them and their families. Realistically speaking, they may be right: most people’s lives go on unaffected by the mob, and choosing to ignore it rather than risk serious escalation isn’t completely ridiculous. But they may be wrong, and when it is their door being burned down it will be too late.
One of the most shameful events in British recent history is the Rotherham child abuse scandal. What makes it doubly shameful is that it fell to the odious, far-right leader Nick Griffin to raise stink about it – which cost him a night in the cells for his efforts. Everybody else stayed silent while teenage girls were being systematically abused with the authorities covering it up. This is bad enough in itself, but if the sole voice trying to raise the alarm is a neo-Nazi, then the country has deep problems indeed. My point is that it should never have been left to Nick Griffin to bring the plight of the Rotherham teenagers to public attention, ordinary people should have been doing that and they didn’t.
So lets go back to Charlottesville. Why did it fall to a bunch of neo-Nazis to defend the Confederate monuments from a mob bent on destroying American society? Where was everyone else? Sure, I know their motivations for protecting the statue were far from pure, and pretty damned disgusting. But that’s what everyone said about Nick Griffin: he’s only highlighting teenage girls being gang-raped because of the race of the perpetrators. Sorry, but so what? We should ignore the outrage because the one person trying to do something about it has impure motives? As far as cop-outs go, that’s a Saturn V.
Perhaps those who elected Donald Trump thought they’d done their bit in November to stop the systematic destruction of America’s history and institutions and didn’t need to do any more. Hopefully after Charlottesville they’ll now understand what is at stake and not leave the defence of what underpins their society to a gaggle of neo-Nazis chanting racist slogans. If they can’t or won’t, or start mincing their words in order to maintain their social status with those who hate them as Mitt Romney and others did yesterday, we should conclude it doesn’t mean that much to them. If that’s the case, then the mob will deserve their victory.