Don’t Eradicate History, Learn From It

“If we destroy the evidence, we eliminate future understanding.”

“Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today?”

— Thomas Sowell, June 11

Antifa anarchistsBlack Lives Matter hooligans and privileged white millennials torched cities, ruined hard-working Americans’ lives and destroyed several dozen COVID-19 test sites during the last 18 days.  

This week, some guttersnipes got bored so they broke down civilization, taking over cities and demolishing historical statues.

Because ignorance is endemic, iconoclasts even tore down statues of heroic black union soldiers and famous abolitionists.

The purge has quickly gone from Confederate generals to our Founding Fathers. Cosmopolitan elites frequently lecture us on “nuance” so how about now? We can and should separate Christopher Columbus from John C. Calhoun; Thomas Jefferson from Jefferson Davis; and George Washington from Robert E. Lee.  

Let’s also acknowledge that despite any evils and imperfections, the United States is history’s greatest experiment in human freedom. Slavery has existed for millennia and still does in parts of the world; it is not unique to the west. What’s unique to America is our abolition and the internecine war that sacrificed over 650,000 lives. Are these facts taught in schools, especially in the Cradle of Liberty, where Columbus was recently decapitated

Locally, Gov. Tim Walz allowed ignorant vandals to topple a 90-year-old Columbus statue — sculpted by an Italian immigrant as a symbol of acceptance — Wednesday evening at the Minnesota State Capitol. After not deploying police, Walz issued a pitiful statement about how “it’s important that process is followed in order to ensure the safety of bystanders and the preservation of surrounding property.”

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka took such dereliction to task, claiming “The mob mentality to do whatever people want without repercussion has got to stop. This is another example of a complete failure of leadership from the Walz administration that sets a dangerous precedent of destruction as an acceptable tool to bring about social change.” 

While Walz was tepid, his radical lieutenant governor was thrilled with the agitators’ illegal actions. She preached hyperbolic invective.

“I can’t say I’m sad the statue of Christopher Columbus is gone. The arrival of Christopher Columbus to what is now the Americas set in motion centuries of violence and genocide against the indigenous people who already lived here. I have often reflected on the fact that I could see a statue honoring that legacy from my office window. It was a constant reminder that our systems were not built by or for Native people or people of color, but in many cases, to exclude, erase and eliminate us.”

This is simplistic armchair revisionism from a “native” woman who was raised in wealthy St. Louis Park. Unlike Flanagan, who’s been a left-wing “activist” most of her life, I’m a trained historian, yet I don’t know much about Columbus — because nobody does. 

There were no reporters on his voyages, nor first person narratives. There is no basic primary source material. The America-hating Howard Zinn ascribed numerous atrocities to Columbus in his mendacious book, but there’s no backup. The only primary source material is a February 1493 letter Columbus wrote while returning from his voyage to the new world. Now sitting inside the Vatican Museums, it’s benign and even complimentary to the natives he encountered.

More than ever, people need to learn from history; whitewashing it makes for a totalitarian society. If we destroy the evidence, we eliminate future understanding. Judging past actions by contemporary moral standards rarely is fair

I am Jewish, yet for five years, part of my job involved guiding tours at a military history museum with abundant Nazi paraphernalia. I didn’t mind because I’m rational and the items were vital for all to see. How can we “Never Forget” if we never learn?

Historian Dominic Green aptly summarized the ironic situation earlier this week:

“The barbarians are not the descendants of the slaves, but the descendants of the masters. They are privileged whites who learnt the script of revolutionary theater in expensive colleges. The statues are proxies for their ultimate target, which is the Constitution and the liberties it endows. So deeply do these spoiled vandals loathe their home and civilization that they seek to erase its ‘original sin’, racism, by erasing the original sinner, Columbus — in order to raise a new order on the ruins.”

Counterproductive tantrums by Jacobins aren’t new, though they make perspicacious citizens wonder if this mayhem is about dishonoring “racists” or just destroying America’s connection with its past?

I’ll let the ideological vigilantes ponder that, as well as whether a backlash is imminent. 

A.J. Kaufman

A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.