Sad Times

This is a post I wanted never to write.

I am sorry to report that a mob has desecrated the Confederate monument at the capitol grounds in Raleigh, NC. It began as a raucous Junteenth celebration and quickly became a riot. The mob brazenly entered the capitol grounds and began attacking the monument, trying to pull down the bronze soldier figures on it. The police made a token attempt to interfere and then stood aside, and the “demonstrators” proceeded, pulling down two figures, one of which they lynched—dragged it through the streets and then hung it from a lamp post. Although the mob made no attempt to hide their identities, the police made only one arrest. You can follow the whole sorry thing here.

I wondered what NCs governor, Roy Cooper would have to say about this bold act of vandalism. I expected some mealy-mouth statement deploring the violence, but instead Cooper totally rolled over. Now says he will take down the entire monument (which is massive), and just as a sweetener, all the Confederate monuments at the capitol as a matter of “public safety.” Not the safety of the public, but that of the rioters. He said he was

concerned about the dangerous efforts to pull down and carry off large, heavy statues and the strong potential for violent clashes at the site. … Monuments to white supremacy don’t belong in places of allegiance, and it’s past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way.

He refuses to say who ordered the police to stand down, and why reinforcements weren’t called in. Cooper is a liberal Democrat who barely won his seat as governor and is up re-election this year, and probably feels he can’t alienate the black community by being seen to be protecting Confederate symbols. However the NC senate majority leader, Phil Berger, a Republican, wasn’t buying it. “I’m aware of only one person in this state who has final authority over state law enforcement. Did Gov. Cooper order the police to abandon the Capitol grounds? If not, who is in control of this state?” Good question. Or was the governor just letting the mob do his dirty work, saving him the time and trouble of going through the democratic process?

He appears to be using the same emergency powers rationale he has been using to keep the state on Coronavirus lockdown. He has chided “Reopen NC” demonstrators for not using masks and observing social distancing, and some were even cited or arrested. You can’t go to a bar, a gym, or even to church in this state, and restaurants are limited to 50% capacity, yet he has not said a word about the recent demonstrations and riots, and even briefly joined a march himself. So apparently the state is now at the mercy of the mob—you can riot and vandalize public property and no one will say a word, much less arrest or prosecute you. This is something you now see nationwide. The police have stopped trying to protect statues or confront the mobs. Which of course will only whet their appetite for something more.

Today the mob is lynching statues. How long before they come for people?

The Asheville city council and that of Buncombe county has voted to remove Confederate monuments here. Asheville has never been a hotbed of the Lost Cause, and there are only three of them—a monument to the 60th NC at Chickamauga, a plaque honoring Robert E. Lee, and an obelisk dedicated to Zebulon Vance, NCs wartime governor. The first two will be easy enough, but the Vance monument is 90 feet tall and must weigh several hundred tons. It is also right downtown and is probably Asheville’s most recognizable monument, as well as being a gathering point for demonstrators and tourists alike. Tearing it down will be costly for a city already strapped for cash because of the pandemic.

Mobs in San Francisco, always a hotbed of political radicalism, went statue-hunting also. Unfortunately the Bay Area is rather short on Confederate monuments, so they had to settle for a saint (Junipero Serra), the writer of the national anthem (Francis Scott Key), and General Ulysses Grant. Yep, Grant got the same treatment as his counterpart Robert E. Lee because he was briefly a slaveholder before the war. Never mind that he won it. Both Grant and Lee got their slaves the same way – by marriage – and did not want them, but no matter.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington and a plaque honoring the all-black 54th Massachusetts have also been defaced with graffiti.

We do live in sad times. British sociologist Frank Furedi thinks we are in the grip of a mass psychosis, and at this point I am inclined to agree with him. This has never been about the Confederacy, and isn’t now. It’s about America.

This just in: Theodore Roosevelt’s statue at the New York Museum of Natural History will be coming down, and a mob attempted to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park, next to the White House, but were stopped by Park Police.






One response to “Sad Times”

  1. theodore Savas Avatar
    theodore Savas

    I have been admonished by the purist form of humanity who have ever existed (just ask them) to “hold my outrage” as they desecrate and destroy the symbols of our heritage. The modern Taliban have arrived–or rather, were among us all along, destroying bits of history because it “offends” them. There is zero practical difference.

    Clarity is a good thing. Now that the masks are off, we can see where everyone stands.

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