If ever there was evidence to prove that the slippery slope is not always a logical fallacy, it is the far Left’s hysteria about Confederate monuments. I’m on record saying I support the removal of monuments honoring the Confederacy. I’ve always considered it an ugly part of America that insists on honoring a long defeated rebellion that happened—at least in part—because some men believed they had the right to own other men. If we support the idea that those men deserve the same honor as those fought to end slavery we’re sending the same sort of message President Trump did when he claimed there were “fine people” on both sides of the clash between neo-nazis, the KKK and the left wing extremists of Antifa.
The extremists on the far Left will never be satisfied by the removal of a statue though. The slippery slope is very real in their case. Already they are sliding into the idiotic with claims that USC’s mascot’s horse is a sign of white supremacy because it has the same name as the horse of a Confederate general. ESPN felt it would be too controversial for a sportscaster named Robert Lee to call a University of Virginia football game. Now there are rumblings about our national anthem being racist because of a cryptic lyric in a stanza the existence of which most people are unaware.
They won't stop. pic.twitter.com/hZXnrOO6LP
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 28, 2017
No matter where we draw the line the Left won’t stop. We will always be on the slippery slope no matter what we do. That doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for drawing the line in the right place. The impulse is understandable, but making a stand for no other reason than to say “no” to the Left is an irresponsibly thought-deficient approach to an issue. Logically speaking it is not much better than when leftists suspend students for pointing finger guns. Knee-jerk zero tolerance policies are silly regardless of which side is using them.
We’re making a mistake if the line we won’t cross is the removal of statues that honor those on the wrong side of history. (People using that phrase to define their contemporaries is just demagoguery, but I think it’s safe to say those who would have perpetuated slavery were in fact on the wrong side.) When many of these statues and monuments were put up as defiant statements against the equal rights America was intended to embody we’re drawing the line in the wrong place.
If the only consideration is rejecting everything the far Left wants and accepting everything they oppose we are wasting our time. Politics should be more than just getting your licks in while the pendulum of power is swinging to your side. Fighting to keep public monuments that offend and alienate people who might not otherwise identify with the Left on all issues is detrimental to the cause of liberty. It’s a stupid hill to die on. It could be an opportunity to disprove stereotypes instead of reinforcing them. The political Manichaeism* currently driving those who only want to “beat the Left” is short sighted and simplistic.
Removing statues or building names does not erase history. People learn history from books, not from bronze statues of bearded guys on horses. Statues don’t exist just to place a person in the historical record. They exist to give honor to that person. Martin Luther King only recently was given a memorial statue in Washington, D.C. I doubt it significantly increased the number of people who are aware of his existence and historical significance.
Statues and memorials are a statement that those whose likenesses they bear are extraordinary examples of humanity. Penn State erected a statue of Coach Joe Paterno to honor his service as their head football coach and a friend of the university. They took it down when it became known that he turned a blind eye to child molestation by his assistant coach Gerry Sandusky. The university decided that honoring Paterno with a statue sent the wrong message. As Americans we have to decide what message we are sending.
Do we wantto tell possibly persuadable people that since they don’t want to honor the Confederacy they are our enemy while we needlessly appear to embrace those whom we really should reject entirely?
The Left isn’t interested in “erasing” history anyway. If the history reflects badly on America—as the Confederacy does—then erasing it would deprive them of a weapon. The extreme Left’s primary interest is erasing America itself. The Left wants to end your right to free expression, your right to bear arms, and your right to self governance. Keeping statues of Confederates does nothing to thwart those goals.
The Left are totalitarians and hypocrites. (Note that they are not protesting the the state of West Virginia, half of which bears the name of former KKK leader Senator Robert Byrd.) Imitating them under a different banner is no solution.
*h/t Boris Zelkin for that analogy