Two familiar sights could be seen in different parts of the country over the last few weeks. In Buffalo, yet another statue of Christopher Columbus was removed at the behest of protesters. This joins the ranks of the dozens upon dozens of other statues and memorials of our historical heroes that have been taken down according to the demands of the mob, or simply torn down by the mob itself.
Meanwhile, over in Minnesota, yet another mural of George Floyd was unveiled. This one joins the growing number of other Floyd murals across the nation and around the world. And the murals are merely one way that our society has honored Floyd. Streets have been unofficially named after him and university buildings may soon follow. Nancy Pelosi gave Floyd’s family a folded American flag — a gesture more often reserved for the families of fallen war heroes — and Senate Democrats knelt silently for eight minutes in his honor. The place where Floyd died has even become something of a holy land where pilgrims go to be baptized and miraculously healed.
The point to emphasize here is that all of this is being done to celebrate the man George Floyd. This has gone way beyond merely speaking out against his death. We are now being told that we must honor George Floyd himself. And we are being told this at precisely the moment when we are also being told that we must stop honoring men like Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other icons of history.
But if the sins of historical figures must be dredged up, and if those sins are reason enough to cast them onto the ash heap of history, then it seems only fair to look at George Floyd’s biography and see if he is actually worthy of all of these monuments and memorials. Thomas Jefferson and Christopher Columbus apparently do not pass the test, despite their world-changing and history-shaping achievements. What about Floyd?
If George Floyd ever achieved anything of note — much less anything that matches the accomplishments of the now-scorned historical figures mentioned above — we have not been told about it. What we do know is that, despite the media’s desperate attempts to dress him up in as favorable a light as possible, he was guilty of committing some truly horrific evils. His lengthy rap sheet includes relatively petty crimes like trespassing, and some not-as-petty crimes like theft and drug possession, but it also features an aggravated armed robbery against a woman. Here are the details of that crime, as provided by Snopes (hardly a right-wing outfit):
According to police officers’ probable-cause statement, which is often the basis of prosecutors’ case against suspects, the incident (on Aug. 9, 2007) unfolded like this: Two adults, Aracely Henriquez and Angel Negrete, and a toddler were in a home when they heard a knock at the front door. When Henriquez looked out the window, she saw a man “dressed in a blue uniform” who said “he was with the water department.” But when she opened the door, she realized the man was telling a lie and she tried shutting him out. Then, the statement reads:
However, this male held the door open and prevented her from doing so. At this time, a black Ford Explorer pulled up in front of the Complainants’ residence and five other black males exited this vehicle and proceeded to the front door. The largest of these suspects forced his way into the residence, placed a pistol against the complainant’s abdomen, and forced her into the living room area of the residence. This large suspect then proceeded to search the residence while another armed suspect guarded the complainant, who was struck in the head and side areas by this second armed suspect with his pistol after she screamed for help. As the suspects looked through the residence, they demanded to know where the drugs and money were and Complainant Henriquez advised them that there were no such things in the residence. The suspects then took some jewelry along with the complainant’s cell phone before they fled the scene in the black Ford Explorer.
Floyd, who was buried in a golden casket at a funeral service attended by dignitaries from all over the country, is guilty of forcing his way into a woman’s house, holding a gun to her stomach in front of her child, and robbing her. This is no small transgression. It is an act of depraved wickedness, and one that has no doubt permanently traumatized the victim and her child. Imagine how that woman feels now when she walks by a mural with the face of her attacker. There is no getting around the fact that Floyd was a man who attacked and victimized the innocent. And those innocents are still alive, forced now to relive their trauma, and watch as the whole world heaps praise and adulation on the man who caused it.
It is insisted that Floyd reformed himself. Even if true, later-in-life reformation hasn’t been enough to vindicate other dead men who’ve been posthumously canceled by the mob. But there is reason to doubt the truth of the claim anyway. After all, Floyd was high on meth and fentanyl and trying to pass off counterfeit bills moments before his death. That does not appear to be the behavior of a man who has gotten himself onto the straight and narrow.
One could rightly argue that Floyd’s crimes will not have the impact of something like enabling slavery, which was a system of horrific and dehumanizing exploitation that some of our historical heroes either participated in or approved of. But why would the sins of the dead need to be historically significant in order to justify the destruction of their monuments and memorials? Is it not enough for the sin to be simply evil and depraved? And besides, most of the figures who’ve been targeted by the mob also performed many good deeds and achieved very great things. We build monuments to celebrate those aspects of their story. Floyd may not have done anything historically bad, but neither did he do anything historically good. He was a deeply flawed man who did at least one terribly evil thing and then died at the hands of the State after committing a crime. If that somehow exceeds the bar for memorialization, then Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, etc., must make it over with lots of room to spare.
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