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Why the Left is Attacking Dead Soldiers

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By Walter Donway

August 22, 2017

 

FDR made concessions to Stalin, as the war against Germany and Italy drew to a certain victorious close, that put much of Eastern Europe under Russian totalitarian dictatorship, acceded to slave labor as part of war reparations, and invited Stalin into Manchuria to ensure the victory of Mao Tse Tung in the struggle to bring China into the communist orbit.

I can understand the Leftist protestors, among them African-Americans, who would topple statues of the historical heroes of the Confederate States of America. When I was a college freshman, at Brown University, I read Roosevelt’s Road to Russia, by George N. Crocker. It is a record of the WWII conferences among the Allies to plan a post-War world. With considerable symbolic significance, the final conference attended by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was in Russia at the Crimean resort of Yalta. It made the very term “Yalta” forever a synonym for betrayal.

Meeting with Marshall Joseph Stalin of Russia and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England, FDR made concessions to Stalin, as the war against Germany and Italy drew to a certain victorious close, that put much of Eastern Europe under Russian totalitarian dictatorship, acceded to slave labor as part of war reparations, and invited Stalin into Manchuria to ensure the victory of Mao Tse Tung in the struggle to bring China into the communist orbit. During those feasting, boozing days and nights at Yalta, when Alger Hiss sat at the right hand of the ill U.S. President passing him notes, literally hundreds of millions of lives were sold into literal slavery or doomed to live for half a century in Marxist dictatorships. I sketch this outcome of the conference to explain my reaction to this. I published somewhere (at the time) that the only statue of FDR ought to be set in a pit where visitors can look down on him, as he deserves.

The only statue of FDR ought to be set in a pit where visitors can look down on him, as he deserves.

The adolescent mentality that I typified back then may be admired. A young man or woman encounters history afresh, as I encountered the WWII war conferences, and is aghast at the complacency of his or her parents, grandparents … When evil arises in our world, should we not do something? Where were you, Dad, and what were you thinking?

I still exalt when crowds in countries of the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact haul down statues of Lenin and Stalin.

Of course, these are nations—the former Soviet “republics,” Poland, the Baltic republics, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, East Germany, and the Balkan nations—conquered by the Red Army, citizens shipped to the Gulag, subjugated for decades, and their public statuary an imposed additional humiliation. Haul them down!

Auction off the statues—and the parks

In a genuinely free country, as I understand it—laissez faire capitalism under Constitutionally limited government—public statutes would not be a problem. No government at any level would be constitutionally permitted to spend public funds commissioning statues—or, for that matter, creating public parks. On private property, at private expense, individuals and corporations could expend their own resources on statuary of military heroes or on huge canvasses of non-Objective art for their office walls. Who cares?

Today’s sundry coalitions of protestors do not object to governments investing in statuary if it is politically correct and certainly not to confiscating citizens’ earnings to support other citizens’ demands.

Somehow, I doubt that my clear-cut solution, in principle, evident under the laissez faire constitutional republic, would be acceptable to today’s sundry coalitions of protestors. They do not object to governments investing in statuary if it is politically correct and certainly not to confiscating citizens’ earnings to support other citizens’ demands.

I join hands with those protestors who uphold the principle that no government has a right to expend the resources of its citizens for any purpose but the protection of the rights of all. Government has no mandate to declare this or that historic figure a public hero; that is an illegitimate function of government. Nat Turner, Ulysses S. Grant, Booker T. Washington, Abraham Lincoln: Who will make the judgment for all of us to valorize them?

If cities and states decide to withdraw from the business of judging public morality—i.e., cave in to the protestors—then let them auction off their public statuary to the highest bidder. Let celebration of judgments of history be private. Protestors can have no slightest justification for attacking, desecrating, an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee on the corporate grounds of Coca-Cola. Stop drinking Coke.

Meanwhile, the principles for dealing with city and state statuary right now are clear. They are government assets. If you damage or destroy them, properly, you should be arrested and fined or sentenced to prison. There can be no slightest compromise on that principle. To protest statuary in public spaces the options are peaceful protest, expression of opinion, lobbying, and voting.

Who is a genuine historical hero?

But how should we frame our understanding of history? I am a philosopher and ideologist; my impulse is to condemn FDR if he outrages my script for a history of justice. I will not renounce my right to judge history by the standards of my morality. It is a waste of time to study history without arriving at judgments of right or wrong. But please keep in mind that judgment always is by standards one has understood and accepted today—with the advantage of historical hindsight. It is not an understanding of history, which is always contextual.

Robert E. Lee, a Virginian, had been graduated from West Point Military Academy, like most generals on both sides who faced off in the Civil War. When the Civil War erupted, he was serving the U.S. Army in Texas. At that time, when the United States was young, men still identified more with their state than the Union. That certainly was true of the great state of Virginia. Called back to Washington, D.C., Lee awaited the decision of Virginia to secede or remain in the Union.

Lee was not a slave owner and hated the institution of slavery, but he was, first and foremost, a Virginian.  When Virginia seceded from the Union, Lee, with the gravest misgivings, returned to his “nation” to offer his services. He became the leader of the Army of Northern Virginia—not the commander of the Confederate army.

Few military leaders in world history have earned the loyalty of their troops as did Robert E. Lee. He never wished for the Confederacy; he fought for the decision made by his fellow Virginians. By the common troops of the South in their four-year, agonizing, unequal struggle with the Union, he was regarded as a near deity. No man ever meant more to his men.

Across the South, today, there are public equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee. Undeniably, they were erected to honor General Lee. At a given time in history, a time of terrible need—because once the Confederacy had made the fateful decision to fight, and against Lee’s judgment and hopes, it needed a military leader like Lee. And so, after the war, the former Confederate states created historical—note emphasis—monuments to Lee who at a time and place in history was their hero.

Well, then, I hear whiny, shrill, and superior voices chanting, why not historical statues in Germany to Hitler, who led his country in war—and to defeat? My answer is that Hitler did not serve the German people. He took them into war, killed as many or more fellow Germans as enemy, and dragged out the war long, long after defeat was inevitable (by the end of 1943). He was not a hero who served his country at a given time, a given place; he was a catastrophic anti-hero. The same is true of Lenin and Stalin, one overthrowing the new Russian democracy in a putsch, the other rising to power by murdering rivals—both mass murderers of millions of their countrymen. In am aware, however, that in the context of Hitler’s threat to the very existence of Russia, and the courage it required of Russians to prevail on the Eastern front, Stalin was and by some still is adulated as a war hero.

But remember, these are judgments for individuals to make, not judgments to be imposed by governments. If some private citizen or group in Germany, out of some inner cesspit of inferiority and hate, wishes to erect a statue of Hitler, I say it is a private matter—and be sure that other private individuals will judge the decision. Let Baltimore or Atlanta or Houston auction off all public statuary and use the proceeds to make tax refunds. And, on the same principle, let them privatize their parks so individuals who do not wish to use them do not have to pay for them.

Playing in private city parks

Protestors will not clash in parks because it will be up to the owner to give permission to use the park. Protestors can pay a fee and have the park to themselves. Maybe Antifa and Black Lives Matter will bring their own piñatas of Stonewall Jackson and batter them to pieces to get candy. In the next park over, the Ku Klux Klan can pay a fee to re-enact a famous lynching if the park owners are agreeable. Private property puts moral responsibility for all decisions in specific, identifiable individuals. If they rent use of the park to the KKK, the owners must accept that they will lose forever the patronage of every African American and every morally awake individual of any race.

Meanwhile, and it will be a long while (circa when Hell freezes over) before my utopian recommendation is implemented, the statue pulldown is putatively about improving the lives of African-Americans. It is unlikely, though, that such matters as a tidal wave of black single mothers, an epidemic of black-on-black and black-on-white murder and other violence, and devastating black teenaged unemployment will be changed by toppling bronzes of General Lee.

The game is blame

The point of the statue pulldown isn’t to address the problems of African-Americans; it is to blame those problems on white Americans and on American history. How can black lives ever get better if whites won’t pull down their historic statues and ‘fess up’ to racism?

This focus on “exploitation” of blacks by whites—a focus difficult for obvious reasons during the Obama Presidency, though black lives on average got no better—is a direct result of the way the major media and Democratic Party turned the election into a Postmodernist morality play of exploiters versus exploited. This is the theme of my recently published book, Donald Trump and His Enemies: How the Media Put Trump in Office:

“This book discusses how…commentators viewed the rise of Donald Trump from the perspective of Postmodernism, including liberal-leftism, and became his “enemies.” … Every story given 24/7 coverage had to do with alleged racism, sexism, wealth—with the poor, the black, women, immigrants, gays and lesbians, “white” nationalists—with discrimination, insensitivity, disrespect, cruelty, and selfishness. This is the philosophy of Postmodernism that tried to define the terms of the election.”

The Postmodernist crusade in the media, continuing unabated today, emphasizes that all race, sex, and class relations must be viewed as “power relations” between the exploiter (whites or only males) and the exploited (all other groups). That perspective lost the election for the Democrats but was not “lost” on voters such as young African-Americans who went for Hillary Clinton by huge margins. They bought into the exploitation theory—as why would they not, given that U.S. education is a hotbed and breeding ground of Postmodernist philosophy?

Seeing the white male exploiter (Donald Trump) prevail by a landslide electoral vote, and thoroughly aroused and frightened by media warnings that all exploited groups must “resist” or be crushed, demonstrators went into the streets ready to riot. It happened at the inauguration, in dozens of cities, at airports, repeatedly at UC Berkeley and other campuses to block speakers, and now as part of the statue pulldown. In all cases, among the leading instigators are Antifa and Black Lives Matter. In all cases, the violence has come from liberal-leftists and I would not be surprised if that is what happened at Charlottesville. Reporters and commentators, consistent with Postmodernism’s distorted lens on reality, literally saw the assaults by the “counter demonstrators” as not true violence because it responded to the presence of some KKK and Neo-Nazi protestors.

It is not clear to me why Black Lives Matter, committed from the outside to violence, leading riots during the entire nomination and election period, has stopped for now their attacks on city police forces. It is possible that they realize that the man in the White House will take the side of the police and motivate and empower them not to emphasize “restraint” but uncompromising firmness in execution of the law.

Postmodern media doubles down on its losses

I predict that when the American people truly catch on to what the media and their academic munitions makers are doing—and this has begun—the defeat they suffered in the election will seem mild. And the treatment of monuments to Confederate soldiers will seem merely childish. Given the trajectory of forces in politics today, with front lines converging and clashes increasingly deadly, a reckoning is coming.

The Charlottesville run-in was a blessing to the media, which could focus at last on violence not exclusively from the Left (but some evidence has emerged to suggest that the entire clash in Charlottesville was stage-managed by the Left). Given that the media has devoted every headline story and talk show for days to parsing the phrasing, intent, and timing of President Trump’s denunciation of the violence in Charlotte, it appears that the media has settled upon its chosen battlefield for the next four years. Not surprisingly, that choice is to do exactly what failed during the election, and to up the ante by attempting to present the “enemy” not as President Trump by himself but Trump as the symbol of the ultimate horror of history, Nazism. Examples of how the strategy has caught on are everywhere from a bill to impeach Trump for “equating” the violence of the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators to an open-letter from two Pulitzer Prize winning authors to American Jews charging that involvement with Trump is involvement with Nazism.

Notice that two or three anti-Trump rumbles—over Russia in the election and North Korea, for example—have been overwhelmed by Charlottesville.

In other words, the media has decided to change nothing in its Postmodernism approach—it knows no other—but to make it more extreme, more shocking, and decidedly more remote from reality. Their most dangerous enemy is the President himself, who “smooths over” nothing, who when attacked slams the attackers, and who has learned to reach tens of millions of people directly with tweets that are like Chinese water torture to his opponents.

I predict that when the American people truly catch on to what the media and their academic munitions makers are doing—and this has begun—the defeat they suffered in the election will seem mild. And the treatment of monuments to Confederate soldiers will seem merely childish. Given the trajectory of forces in politics today, with front lines converging and clashes increasingly deadly, a reckoning is coming.

 

 

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