In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Left has returned to one of its favorite pastimes: tearing down statues and defacing public property. Instead of making a grown-up argument that Confederate war monuments shouldn’t be funded by taxpayer dollars, Leftists have simply determined that it’s fine to tear down statues they don’t like, without even engaging in a serious historical or political debate.
Now, there are strong arguments on both sides of the aisle regarding the removal of Confederate war monuments. In favor: the Confederacy lost, as it should have; the people who fought for the Confederacy fought to uphold the evil institution of slavery, and descendants of slaves shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the upkeep of monuments to their would-be oppressors. That’s a pretty damn good argument. Opposed: those who fought for the Confederacy weren’t only fighting over slavery — about one-third of white families under the Confederacy owned slaves — but over their belief that their states should be free of federal encroachment; removing historic memorials generally is a bad idea because it prevents us from discussing our history, both good and ill. These are arguments that should be had at the public level, and voting should solve them. My own position is that the Confederate flag shouldn’t fly over public grounds but is perfectly appropriate with regard to Confederate war memorials, that Confederate war memorials have little to do with the perpetuation of racism today, and that the best solution might be to privatize those memorials and place them in museums in any case.
But the Left isn’t interested in these arguments. There’s a broader, two-pronged agenda at work here. The first prong: label a huge number of common symbols racist. There’s a movement afoot to tear down statues of Thomas Jefferson, to stop students from wearing the American flag to school on Cinco De Mayo, to end the playing of the National Anthem at football games. The Confederate flag and Confederate war memorials are only the first step toward that goal. It’s rather obvious that the Left has no such interest in tearing down statues of Robert Byrd in the U.S. Capitol or Vladimir Lenin in Seattle.
The second prong: tear down the symbols without due process of law. That’s what we’re seeing in Durham. It’s what we’ve seen in the vandalism directed against statues elsewhere. That’s part of the broader leftist legitimization of lawbreaking and violence; that legitimization has led to the growth of movements like Antifa, which spreads violence in its wake.
Racism is a problem, and must be fought. But the bigger problem is that racism can’t be fought while we’re clubbing each other over the head and destroying each other’s property. In fact, the leading growth-point for the alt-right is leftist violence and overreach. If the Left truly wishes to defeat racism, they need to start by ending both their violence and their pathetic attempts to label anyone who disagrees with their policy prescriptions racist. Breaking leftist toes on metal statues of long-dead Confederate soldiers isn’t solid strategy, and it isn’t good for the country.