by John Delach
The tide to erase all reminders of injustice in the land of US is at flood stage. Agitators have moved on from their condemnation of Southern icons to seek out any, and all who may have showed hatred, demonstrated intolerance, prejudice, simple mindedness or just didn’t get it the same way as they see it. Goodbye, Bobby Lee, they have you on the run. Your monument in New Orleans; gone, baby, gone…so too those at Duke University, Baltimore and University of Texas, too…with more to come.
Stonewall has also received the bum’s rush…and so it goes.
I sit here in Port Washington far from the south and yet, mindful of the sharks circling hungry for the kill. They got Bobby in of all places outside of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. It seemed Bobby was stationed there in the 1840s and planted an elm tree outside a local Episcopal Church. Over the years two plaques were placed there commemorating the tree and its successor. When the blow back from the Charlottesville riots reached Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the diocese cut down and removed the plaques. Curiously, that church is derelict, closed for lack of a congregation. Nevertheless, the diocese caved in a New York Minute…that’s when I knew common sense was in retreat.
Some group alerted the blood-thirsty media that the image of the Confederate Battle Flag (the stars and bars) was part of the tile decoration at the Times Square Subway Station. The MTA’s explanation that it was designed to represent Times Square as the “crossroads of the world” went unheeded. Rather than enter into a pissing contest, the MTA folded and is papering over the “offensive tiles” with faux tiles. This was no longer a retreat, it was a rout.
Quickly, attention shifted to Christopher Columbus. Ole Chris has been under siege for some time having been stricken in favor of Native American celebrations in several parts of the country. But not in New York! Here we have Columbus’ statue perched atop a high pedestal in the center of Columbus Circle. Italian-Americans funded the statue, built it dedicated it and gave it to NYC to show their pride…if you think for even a second that Chris is coming down…well good luck with that, Comrade Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
Next up; Peter Stuyvesant. Question, for the last two hundred years, who gave a damn about Pete except to note that he had a peg leg and took the hit when the Brits took over. The tom-toms are beating and anyone with a grudge to settle is on the warpath. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center told The New York Post: “Peter Stuyvesant was an extreme racist who targeted Jews and other minorities…from settling in New Amsterdam. New York…should take the lead in denouncing Stuyvesant’s bigotry.”
I hope Ms D-L was happy to get that off her chest…it must have been a long time coming.
And the beat goes on…in Philadelphia, there’s a movement to take down a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo, in Chicago, a statue of Italo Balbo who also has a highway named after him. There is a movement in Beantown to rename historic Faneuil Hall because Peter Faneuil, who donated the building to the city in 1743, was a slave owner and trader.
In Manhattan, we have a gold encrusted heroic statue of General Sherman at Grand Army Plaza, U.S. Grant in his Riverside Park tomb and Admiral Farragut overlooking Madison Square Park. What impurities are they hiding?
Stalin and Mao would take pride in those who want to re-write history by erasing the past. Are these activists aware that Congress restored Lee’s citizenship in 1975 by a vote of 407 to 10 and Gerald Ford signed it. Robert E. Lee is a national icon like him or not. It will be a long slog to erase Bobby.
Seventeen highways bear his name, ten high schools, two junior high schools and seven primary schools. Three towns, nine counties and two colleges have Lee in their names. The M-3, the first US Army battle tank to see action during WW-II was named after Bobby as was the USS Robert E. Lee, SSBN-601, a Polaris missile submarine that serviced from 1960 to 1983. Let us not forget that red Dodge Charger in the Dukes of Hazard.
Our past is our past. Our national stain was allowing slavery to exist at the founding of our nation. We suffered a horrendous civil war to end slavery but it took another hundred years to outlaw Jim Crow in those states that assumed they were still part of new confederacy able to suppress black citizens. To our shame, several border states and even our nation’s capital abided by Jim Crow.
It is our sad heritage that across America, racial inequality remains our national stain. Hatred, prejudice, profiling, and segregation continue to exist. That is the downside of our legacy, but erasing the past so somebody can feel good is nothing more than a fool’s errand.
The past is the past and to hell with the past. Teach your children well, the future is theirs to change.