Sunday, September 24, 2017

Why not just ignore monuments?

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for August 23, 2017- running a bit late.)

If I were to give advice to the Leftist protesters across the country, it would include this: ignore the monuments of your enemies.

I have no love for those who built and strengthened the government. Any government. I consider it ridiculous to memorialize such people in bronze. But their statues can serve as reminders of past mistakes. Plus, they are useful pigeon roosts.

When you remove statues and monuments, you haven't erased bad events of the past. You've hidden their reminders. You've swept those events under a rug. It's like covering evidence of historic crimes. Leave them on display to remind yourself "Never again!"

There are also those who practically worship those symbols; they might as well be idols. Some people get part of their identity from them; some of their self-worth. Tearing down those statues is only going to cause more trouble. It's going to fragment society even further. This is not the time for that.

I'm not in favor of paying a solitary cent to ever again create another statue to honor a politician or member of the government's military. But, of those which are already there and were funded with tax money, the money is long gone; it will never be returned to its rightful owner. Those paid for with voluntary donations, while they shouldn't be on "public land", are otherwise none of my business.

So why not simply ignore the symbols you find repulsive?

I see courthouses, police stations, public schools, and city halls as symbols of oppression and tyranny. They aren't just reminders of a terrible past, but are monuments to contemporary slavery-- a concrete burden on individuals, and thus on civilization, today. Yet I don't generally advocate for them to be demolished.

As long as the underlying beliefs which prop up those structures remain, you and I would be forced to pay for their replacements. It's those archaic ideas and beliefs which need to be abolished; the physical structures are only a symptom.

Could you find tolerance for the symbols you despise so you'll have the moral high ground when someone starts calling for the demolition of the historic symbols you value?

If you make it socially permissible to destroy monuments to things you hate, you make it acceptable for your enemies to tear down monuments to things you love, too. Do you really want to go down this path and see where it leads? This is what comes of politics-- consider yourself warned.

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Discriminate in the lessons you learn

Everyone can be your teacher. But be careful of what you learn.

You can learn something from anyone. If you ever run across someone you can't learn from, you have learned that there are people you can't learn from, and that would mean you learned something from them after all.

But... be very careful listening to people who believe in governing others, or who believe it's OK to archate.

When someone starts from a position that far off-base, you will need to be extra cautious in analyzing everything else they say.

So, even if Abraham Lincoln said some things you can learn from, he started from a position of superstition and ignorance. If you pay attention to things he said, without discriminating the good from the nonsense, you'll pay for it. Remember that at all times.

The same goes for anyone who believes governing others can be a positive thing. Whether they are military, a politician, a journalist, a bureaucrat, or whatever. If they are wrong about something so fundamental, you know the chances are high that they are wrong about other things-- even if things they say sound good.

So, weigh their words. Keep the gold, toss out the junk, and keep learning.

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