There’s no doubt our president calls ‘em as he sees them. And if there ever was, it should be firmly and finally put to rest following his recent comments about the racial violence in Charlottesville this week. Mr. Trump blamed the civil unrest on both sides. Even if you’re not much of a video watcher, this is worth it:
As Americans get caught up in the tragedy that wrought death and destruction this weekend between the so-called alt-right and alt-left, there seems to be precious little written about why the events unfolded in Charlottesville. And it’s vital to note that the nightmare didn’t occur in this sleepy southern college town because it is a hotbed of racism.
Charlottesville’s main fault is that the city is located in the former capital of the Confederacy. As such, there are parks, statues, and much more that commemorate the bloody “War Between the States” that resulted in an estimated loss of 620,000 American lives. A vigorous political thrust by the left to rename these Civil War places and memorials caused sufficient polarization to bring the Ku Klux Klan and their minions out of the woodwork.
Now we see this effort spiraling out of control across the country: skirmishes driven by the attempt to erase and eradicate history have already taken place in Baltimore, New Orleans, and St. Louis. As the president so aptly said, where does this stop? And honestly, we must ask ourselves the question – should it have ever begun?
History – the good, the bad, and the ugly – should always be presented to the future with truth as its foundation. It cannot be wiped out, and any effort to do so is iniquitous folly. Tease this out a bit and what do you have? First, we remove the statue, and then we remove the history from our textbooks, perhaps we should ban them – no, let’s burn them. There you go.
As the president so aptly tweeted today:
…can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Perhaps Holocaust survivors can teach us a lesson about how to best handle grievous historic times and crimes. It was in fact none other than Elie Wiesel who wrote:
We tell these stories because perhaps we know that not to listen, not to want to know, would lead you to indifference, and indifference is never an answer.
In his speech at the U.S. Holocaust museum at the “Days of Remembrance” ceremony in Washington, D.C., Wiesel makes a convincing case for commemorating, remembering and teaching future generations about the past:
But is remembrance enough? What does one do with the memory of agony and suffering? Memory has its own language, its own texture, its own secret melody, its own archeology and its own limitations: it too can be wounded, stolen and shamed; but it is up to us to rescue it and save it from becoming cheap, banal, and sterile.
What a wise and brilliant man. We cannot sterilize Americans from knowledge of the Civil War. We cannot and should not sterilize our children from learning about slavery, the Confederacy, and the rough and tumble origins of this nation. Efforts to do as much will not only polarize us as a country but leave us ignorant of the past. And we all remember that proverbial line by George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Conservatives must go beyond condemning the actions of those who perpetrated the crimes in Charlottesville this weekend. We must stand tall against any efforts to remove the Civil War from the American memory for in the words of Elie Wiesel:
To remember means to lend an ethical dimension to all endeavors and aspirations.