The movement to tear down and deface monuments to famous people and events in American history is a metaphor for the even more sinister ambitions of the more militant perpetrators.
The entire concept is misconceived, and now that it has gone beyond Confederate soldiers and officials, it constitutes a blood libel on the founders of the American colonies and of the United States, and on those who have preserved and strengthened the Union these 230 years.
The early settlers fled the class-stratification, anti-meritocratic sclerosis, and corrupt oppression of Europe. They founded states where the settlers would be free and equal, and there would be religious tolerance, and all could aspire to a better life through hard work and good conduct.
They had little regard for the indigenous peoples (read the Declaration of Independence). The white history with the natives is complex and rather discreditable, though the natives are not blameless. The so-called Indians were essentially nomads with a Stone Age civilization and did not remotely occupy the whole country, and though there were many outrages in the treatment of them, their fate is only occasionally and opportunistically invoked by African American activists.
Black Lives Matter (BLM), now revered by the Democrats and Mitt Romney, do not accept that all lives matter.
The early settlers had practically no knowledge of Africans until British and French slave merchants negotiated with African tribal leaders for the exportation of able-bodied Africans to the southern colonies of North America because of their presumed higher productivity in harvesting tropical crops, especially cotton, for which there was high demand in the British textile and clothing industries.
The founders of the American colonies were indispensable to the eventual acceptance of the national legitimacy of colonized peoples. Their loyalty to Britain did not long survive the Anglo American defeat of the French in Canada in 1759–60.
It is one of the many frauds contained in the 1619 Project of The New York Times Magazine, masterminded by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that slaveholding occupied any significant place in the ambitions of the American revolutionaries. Slavery was at that time under no threat and was not abolished in the British Empire for more than 50 years after the achievement of American independence.
There was from the start substantial opposition to the moral implications of slavery. Benjamin Franklin was briefly a slaveholder but became the leader of the Abolitionist Society of Pennsylvania. George Washington at least emancipated his slaves in his will. Thomas Jefferson saw the ethical problem of slavery as “a fire-bell in the night,” and had a number of children with Sally Hemings, a slave whom he essentially treated as a spouse.
As a work of historical scholarship, the 1619 Project is a disgrace, and the recognition of it with a Pulitzer Prize makes as much a mockery of the standards and integrity of the American media as was the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Walter Duranty, also of The New York Times, in 1932 for whitewashing Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture and the resulting Ukrainian famine that killed millions of people.
It is little wonder that the great majority of Americans have little faith in the media and that the concept of a free press, essential to democracy, has been dragged into disrepute by the likes of Hannah-Jones, who has intermittently revealed herself throughout her adult life as a zealous anti-white racist.
The early Americans were slow to act on the incompatibility of slavery with their founding principles, but they created and built a society that could and finally did abolish slavery, and an unconscionable century later, segregation.
But African Americans should never forget that Abraham Lincoln said, “If God wills that every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be repaid by a drop of blood drawn by the sword, then as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
America’s greatest statesman promised the abolition of slavery no matter how many of his white countrymen were killed in accomplishing that goal, and 750,000 Americans (in a population of 31 million) perished emancipating the slaves.
The context of the statue that BLM and its fellow-travelers wish to destroy in Washington, of a black man kneeling beside Lincoln, is that when General Grant forced the Confederate evacuation of Richmond and Lincoln went to Richmond to reintegrate Virginia into the Union and confirm the demobilization of General Lee’s army, he was escorted by a Union African American regiment.
And when recently emancipated slaves knelt in thanks, he raised them up and told them they must never kneel to anyone again except “to God only.” The attempt to destroy that statue is an obscenity.
President Woodrow Wilson, a distinguished head of Princeton University and historical scholar, was a Virginian Presbyterian born before the Civil War, and a segregationist, like most southern whites. This is a serious impeachment of his reputation, but it does not obliterate the facts that he intervened to prevent the defeat of democracy in World War I and to promote the national independence of long-oppressed peoples including the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, the Baltic states, and the various nationalities in what became Yugoslavia.
He championed many colonial peoples and was one of history’s great prophets, by conceiving of a parliament of the world’s countries (the League of Nations), and inspiring the masses of the world for the first time with the vision of enduring peace.
His conversion of the ghastly hecatomb of World War I into “a war to end war and to make the world safe for democracy” uplifted all mankind, and does so still. The execrable bias that he inherited against the African American and failed to outgrow limits his historical status, but does not justify erasing his name from a center at Princeton, where he was a distinguished president.
The problem posed by these attacks upon statues is that they are made by people who, like Hannah-Jones and the BLM leaders, do not wish a compromise agreement of racial equality and tolerance. They are motivated by vindictive hatred for those who founded and built the nation within which they have with infinite difficulty and after an unconscionable delay, become by far the most successful and prosperous black population in the world, and the best is yet to come.
Relatively innocuous fellow travelers like Charles Blow in The New York Times, who wants to downgrade even Washington, are useful idiots in a psycho-insurrectionist cause. White America is temporarily so shaken by the horrible and sadistic killing of George Floyd that it is ignoring or misreading movements that do not seek reform, fraternity, or leadership to “bring us together,” but rather are trying to strike a mortal blow at the entire American project.
President Trump has stumbled seriously and the pandemic and the coordinated media hostility have put his reelection in some doubt, though he has condemned racism, lawlessness, and attacks on the rights and property of individuals and on public monuments. He will have to raise his game or jeopardize the cause he is leading.
The Democrats have allowed violent and bigoted elements to infiltrate them, and are elevating a completely implausible nominee to deal with an almost unprecedented state of political disorder. The national interest will require rejection of the lassitude and subversive evasion of many of Trump’s enemies.
Americans should see BLM clearly, and the threat of its New York leader (Hawk Newsome), to “burn society down.” Unless what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” prevail, the United States will enter a possibly irreversible decline on Nov. 3.
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.