A Viable, Non-Violent, and Educational Solution to the ‘War Over Monuments’ Movement
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” ― George Orwell, 1984
We are headed in Orwell’s direction if we don’t get smart about censoring the past. One of the things the internet has done is make more information available to people. Someone says this about that person, and another person says that based on some additional research. Each side gets a voice.
I saw a post on Facebook about Margaret Sanger, Black Pastors, and the “Struggle for Justice Exhibit” at the Smithsonian. The article is from 2015:
A group of African American pastors [upped] their demand for the taxpayer-funded Smithsonian to remove a statue of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. The museum has so far refused their request to remove the statue of the eugenics-supporting founder of the abortion business caught selling aborted babies and their body parts.
The museum has the Sanger bust in their “Struggle for Justice” exhibit, which is supposed to honor those of the past who were “champions of justice.” A sign beneath the sculpture says that Sanger was “profoundly affected by the physical and mental toll exacted on women by frequent childbirth, miscarriage and self-induced abortion.”
The pastors wrote the Smithsonian a letter explaining that Sanger was far from a champion for their race because of her strong ties to the eugenics movement.
However, their request to have the bust removed has been denied.
One side is demanding the removal of Confederate Memorial statues and images of anyone associated either with racism or slavery.
Another side is saying, “Hey, there are some people on the other side who have a few skeletons in their closet. If our stuff must go, so does their stuff.”
I say no. Rather, have a nicely sculpted sign with some of Sanger’s views written out. Make viewing her image a teaching lesson. I believe if we took this approach, we could make some great headway. Each side would be exercising their First Amendment rights. The original source of the quotation would have to be included so people could check out the quotation in context. With smart phones, people could look up the quotation on the spot.
Two things will happen. First, people will learn something. Second, when the truth comes out people who advocate for their favorite historical “idols” might be embarrassed enough to remove them voluntarily.
“The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17).
This way, everyone wins, the wisdom of the First Amendment is retained, and tempers will cool. Because these statues and memorials are on government property, the government should not only have its version of history on display. Private companies can do what they want.
We’re already seeing something like this happening as articles are being written informing people of some of these historical figures on both sides of the debate (see my article on Robert Byrd and Woodrow Wilson). For example, if you are a fan of Robert E. Lee, you should read this article. Don’t censor or attack, but respond in kind after doing the necessary research.
In the Margaret Sanger debate mentioned above, the Smithsonian gets the only word. My solution would change that. The Black Pastors, after doing extensive research, would be given a say on some of Sanger’s anti-black and anti-immigrant remarks. Let the people decide.
Yes, I know there would be some problems and it wouldn’t all go smoothly, but it’s better than what’s happening now. The technology age has made it all possible.
The goal should be peace, not war. Better to be hurt by the truth than a club.