Po­lit­i­cal ‘pu­rity’ de­mand de­serves ‘blue wall’

The Signal - - OPINION - Brian Baker is a Sau­gus res­i­dent. Brian BAKER

In his Sept. 7 col­umn “Heed­ing Robert E. Lee’s ad­vice,” Jim de Bree told us of how, as a youth, he was “ob­sessed” – his word – with Civil War-era his­tory, and how stat­u­ary and mon­u­ments to Con­fed­er­ate he­roes helped him un­der­stand the con­text of that con­flict.

He goes on to say that per­haps the time has come to re­assess the pro­pri­ety of the con­tin­ued dis­play of such mon­u­ments, par­tic­u­larly in light of the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.

Though many of his points are well­taken, the “statue prob­lem” of to­day doesn’t fall into the or­derly his­tor­i­cal model.

If mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (for ex­am­ple) want to erect pub­lic mon­u­ments, they usu­ally go through a pub­lic demo­cratic process to de­cide whether or not to do so. The on­go­ing process of in­stalling a monument to our lo­cal war KIA in Vet­er­ans Plaza is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple. It’s been go­ing on for over a year, and now we’ve fi­nally bro­ken ground to ac­tu­ally in­stall it.

The same process is avail­able to de­ter­mine whether or not to re­move such mon­u­ments. And in my opin­ion every ju­ris­dic­tion cer­tainly has the right and power to de­ter­mine for it­self whether to erect or re­move such mon­u­ments. It’s a de­lib­er­a­tive mech­a­nism.

Of course, it’s even sim­pler on pri­vate prop­erty. The prop­erty owner can erect, or re­move, pretty much what­ever he or she wants.

But what’s dif­fer­ent now is that we don’t have an or­derly process tak­ing place. We have mobs, ginned up with sanc­ti­mo­nious out­rage, run­ning around cre­at­ing ri­ots, threat­en­ing and car­ry­ing out vi­o­lent acts, and de­fac­ing stat­u­ary.

More than any­thing else, they re­mind me of the Tal­iban tak­ing over in Afghanistan, then de­stroy­ing thou­sand-year-old stat­u­ary be­cause it didn’t con­form to their re­li­gious fer­vor.

Fur­ther, the cur­rent “out­rage” doesn’t con­fine it­self just to Civil War Con­fed­er­ate fig­ures. There have al­ready been calls to shun, or even take down, the Jef­fer­son Memo­rial be­cause Jef­fer­son owned slaves. The Lin­coln Memo­rial has been de­faced.

There’s no end in sight to the icon­o­clasm of the fa­nat­ics in their ef­forts to im­pose some un­de­fined and amor­phous re­quire­ment for po­lit­i­cal “pu­rity” on his­tor­i­cal fig­ures.

The very first step to­ward putting an end to this non­sense is for the le­git­i­mate in­sti­tu­tions of this coun­try – the city coun­cils, uni­ver­si­ties, me­dia, state govern­ments, ev­ery­one – to stop giv­ing cre­dence to these out­laws – which is ex­actly what they are – and meet their vi­o­lence with a “blue wall” of cops, backed up with high-pres­sure fire hoses and tear gas, ready to de­ploy at the very first hint of vi­o­lence, fol­lowed by the ar­rest, pros­e­cu­tion, and in­car­cer­a­tion of any and all of­fend­ers.

Then we have to stop treat­ing the de­mand for pu­rity with any le­git­i­macy at all. It should be met with the scorn and mock­ery it so richly de­serves.

Un­til those things hap­pen, I think the lu­nacy will sim­ply con­tinue.

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