The Left was ecstatic this week when "protestors" (read: criminal vandals) toppled a Confederate statue on the campus of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. This, of course, is just the latest monument of its sort to be removed, legally or illegally, in the name of combating white supremacy. There seems to have been a precedent established over the past few years: if you don't like a statue, pull it down. The law will step to the side and allow felony destruction of property to occur.
There are a few problems with this precedent, starting with its uneven application. It has been open season on "offensive" monuments, only so long as they are monuments to 19th century white guys from the American south. The rather selective nature of this historical purging has led many people — myself included — to suspect that there is a specifically left-wing ideological motivation behind this outcry against statues. If it is not ideological, if our modern sensibilities simply will not tolerate statues that commemorate "problematic" figures of any sort, then why hasn't the outrage extended beyond Confederate soldiers?
Many people in the south feel that this is an attack on their heritage and history. If it is not that, if it is really just a movement against evils like racism and slavery, then all statues associated with evil should come down. This is not "whataboutism." This is simply a matter of consistently applying a principle. The statue-toppling mobs, if their motives were honest, would assemble to yank down, stomp, and spit upon the following non-Confederate monuments. Though of course I would only want this to be done legally:
1) The monument to child sex predator Harvey Milk in San Francisco.
There are actually several monuments to Harvey Milk in the city, as well as streets and schools and even Naval ships named after him. I don't suggest that we demolish the schools, streets, or ships — just rename them. As for the statues, they should be pulled down for the evils they represent.
Harvey Milk is hailed as a hero for only one reason: he was gay and he was elected to public office. He accomplished nothing else. His only notable achievement was his own political elevation, which was cut short when he was murdered by a fellow Democrat. But his minor electoral accomplishment is vastly outweighed by the fact that Milk was a pederast and a statutory rapist who preyed upon drug addicted boys.
Even Milk's admirers do not deny that he had a "penchant for young waifs with drug abuse problems." What they do not like to admit is that the "young waifs" were minors who came to Milk looking for a father figure and instead were groomed, abused, and discarded. At least two of his victims committed suicide shortly after Milk was finished with them. He was a profoundly evil and degenerate man, who, so far as anyone knows, contributed nothing of value to society, and left a trail of misery, abuse, and suicide in his wake. Stonewall Jackson may have fought for the south, but at least he wasn't a child rapist.
2) The statue of mass murderer and tyrant Vladimir Lenin in Seattle.
Lenin was a Marxist revolutionary who founded the Soviet tyrannical state that would proceed to murder, imprison, enslave, and starve tens of millions of people over the course of the 20th century. For a while, there was some effort on the Left to separate Lenin from Stalin, foisting all of the sins of butchery and murder on the latter so that the former could be seen as a pure and virtuous fighter for Marxist ideals. It is true that he was a fighter for Marxist ideals, but not a pure and virtuous one. In fact, he was a killer and a villain just like Stalin.
As noted in The Washington Post a few years ago, here is a typical memo from Lenin, sent to his Bolshevik comrades, ordering the mass execution of farmers and the appropriation of their land:
"1. Hang (hang without fail so the people see) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers. 2. Publish their names. 3. Take from them all the grain. 4. Designate hostages — as per yesterday's telegram. Do it in such a way that for hundreds of versts around, people will see, tremble, know, shout: they are strangling and will strangle to death the bloodsucker kulaks."
A statue to this man stands in the middle of an American neighborhood.
3) The bust of eugenist Margaret Sanger in the National Portrait Institute.
The founder of Planned Parenthood, who once proudly spoke to a group of KKK members to promote her ideas, was a proponent of the morally abominable eugenics movement. Like other eugenicists, she believed in ridding society of undesirable classes through forced sterilization and other similar methods. Sanger's apologists will point out that she denied claims of racism. That's true. Here's what she said in denial:
"The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
I'm not sure that her statement about educating 'rebellious Negros' does much to debunk the racism charge, but I do know that she explicitly desired to eradicate "undesirables," and the organization she founded would go on to eradicate well over seven million of them and counting.
Ironically, the bust of Margaret Sanger has been defended on the grounds that her racist views "mirrored her times" and the effort to remove it is really part of an ideologically motivated campaign. The backlash against the various monuments to Harvey Milk is also blocked on the basis that it is a thinly veiled anti-gay crusade. These are exactly the arguments defenders of Confederate statues make: that the troubling aspects of Confederate figures must be seen in their historical context, and the effort to wipe them from history is more political than it is ethical.
It seems that integrity and consistency demands we tear down all problematic statues or none of them. To focus just on one sort, and ignore the monuments to evil historical characters celebrated by some people on the Left, is to admit that the attack on Confederate statues is indeed nothing more than a political stunt.