Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
The current rioting and toppling of our national memorials offer credibility and validation to this George Santayana quote. What these actions confirm is that most young Americans are not well-read, are oblivious to Socratic discourse, lack any understanding of the Western tradition, and democracy itself. They are equally unaware of the term “useful idiot” attributed to V.I. Lenin to define ill-informed, easily gulled individuals, mostly the bourgeoisie, who can be easily manipulated by the radical left to support their violent causes. It is a moniker proudly worn by a good number of Americans today—truly confirming [that] ignorance is bliss. What these protestors are also confirming is their contradictory and capricious agenda.
The anarchists masquerading under a mask of democracy have also demonstrated to our nation how undereducated and leaderless their agenda is. What we are witnessing as a nation is that when anger is your life mentor, self-destruction is your ally, [seen] in these wanton attacks on our nation’s memorials, which are perpetrated under the guise of correcting a wrong in the belief that two wrongs make a right. What these protesters fail to understand: These monuments were built to memorialize the past in the hope of not repeating it, and to reinforce the frailty of our human condition and humanity in distress. … Will the next course of events be the desecration of war memorials and Holocaust museums because we fear being insight of life’s realities both good and bad? Those who believe removing these monuments will improve our human advancement by using the cliché “out of sight, out of mind” will, in time, realize this is false security that appeals to our insecurities and narcissistic culture, which will result in repeating acts of inhumanity.
The protesters who desecrated statues in the name of social “justice” only proved their lack of education and reckless agenda. For instance, in Philadelphia, vandals spray-painted the words “colonizer” and “murderer” on the statue of Matthias Baldwin, a 19th-century abolitionist. Baldwin was ahead of the curve when it comes to Black Lives Matter. Such poor action by the protesters confirms they paint life in bold brushstrokes, to cover the clear line of truth. In Boston, protesters painted graffiti on the statue of Robert Gould, who commanded the first black regiment in the northern army and who was killed in action fighting for the abolition of slavery. It should be noted he came from a wealthy and prominent family and volunteered to lead this regiment. In Madison, Wisconsin, protesters tore down the statue of Civil War hero Hans Christian Heg, a Union officer who also was killed in battle fighting for the abolition of slavery. Fortunately, his statue still remains and is respected in Norway today, confirming Europeans have a better understanding of history.
The insanity of crowd behavior did not end here. Recently, statues of Jesus have been toppled from churches as an act of hate crimes. Once again, the crowds chant “Give us Barabbas,” casting their votes for criminals and not the peacemakers of the world. Only this time, Jesus is crucified for being a Jew, white, and a peacemaker seeking justice for all regardless of race; history has a poor track record when it comes to killing peacemakers, as we can see in the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr.
For those who so easily and without justification desecrate the statues mentioned: You may need to be reminded they faced a hard and noble death for greater humanity, one from which we are now benefiting as a nation, as a result of their sacrifices.
In closing, I will quote holy writ: “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” or in secular parlance, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And for those “Christians” who attend prayer meetings prior to engaging in violent protests with a Bible in one hand and a rock in the other: Their violent acts confirm what useful idiots we can make out of ourselves by failing to remember the past, and relive it with each angry and ignorant action.
Richard Cirulli is a retired professor, author, and playwright.