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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Digging a Hole for the Future

TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I suggest covering up statues and paintings of past events is unhelpful for learning about who we are.

For John, BLUFIf you don't know how you got here, how can you know which direction to take into the future?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

The ongoing monument controversy shows the susceptibility of ‘liberating tolerance’ to fanaticism

From The Spectator, by Dr Roger Kimball, 18 February 2019.

Here is the lede plus four:

The news that the University of Notre Dame, responding to complaints by some students, would ‘shroud’ its 12 134-year-old murals depicting Christopher Columbus was disappointing.  It was not surprising, however, to anyone who has been paying attention to the widespread attack on America’s past wherever social justice warriors congregate.

Notre Dame may not be particularly friendly to its Catholic heritage, but its president, the Rev. John Jenkins, demonstrated that it remains true to its jesuitical (if not, quite, its Jesuit) inheritance.  Queried about the censorship, he said, apparently without irony, that his decision to cover the murals was not intended to conceal anything, but rather to tell ‘the full story’ of Columbus’s activities.

Welcome to the new Orwellian world where censorship is free speech and we respect the past by attempting to elide it.

Over the past several years, we have seen a rising tide of assaults on statues and other works of art representing our nation’s history by those who are eager to squeeze that complex story into a box defined by the evolving rules of political correctness.  We might call this the ‘monument controversy,’ and what happened at Notre Dame is a case in point:  a vocal minority, claiming victim status, demands the destruction, removal, or concealment of some object of which they disapprove.  Usually, the official response is instant capitulation.

As the French writer Charles Péguy once observed, ‘It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.’  Consider the frequent demands to remove statues of Confederate war heroes from public spaces because their presence is said to be racist.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, has recently had statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson removed from a public gallery.  In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has set up a committee to review ‘all symbols of hate on city property.’

A hundred and fifty years from now, when we are generally in agreement that late term abortions are, in fact, infanticide, will we be tearing down or covering up the statues of President Obama and Senator Clinton and chiseling out of plaques the names of various Senators and House Speakers?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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