You know why even smart, non-racist people don’t support removing Confederate statues? Because it starts off “civil” but then very quickly things like this happen, where a group of people gets into a massive crowd and destroys a statue just because they feel like it. Even when the law says that the historic statues are not to be moved let alone destroyed. You know what these “anti-fascist,” “anti-white supremacists” look like here? They look like fascists. And the police is in on it—they are surrounding the vandals and doing nothing.
Suddenly it is in vogue that monuments, buildings, and statues are “oppressive.” This idea is new—it only gained traction in the past few years, and it only really gained traction in the past few months.
Political ideas fall in and out of fashion. The whole point of conservatism is that there needs to be something more important to guide decisions than just what a crowd of people happens to think at the time, especially if they want to do something that is irreversible—like destroy historic statues.
And so when some people want to destroy a statue, obviously there will be opposition.
Who is at fault?
The people that directly commit the violence. But next in line is obviously the President of the United States Donald Trump, to whom Charlottesville, VA is the biggest priority.
At least that is what Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer said. Except hold on. You know who is actually responsible for what happens in Charlottesville, VA? Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer!
It is astounding that Signer would blame Trump. Signer is the man who was supposed to know exactly what is going on in his city, make appropriate decisions and take proper safety measures. Trump has no idea what is going on in Charlottesville—why should he?
And Signer himself did not want to remove the statue. He penned an essay saying so.
He is the mayor. If he really felt that strongly about it then he should have shown more leadership.
And he really should have been a leader—this was a very contentious issue in the city for a few years. The city was divided, with a few individuals and groups strongly pushing for the statue’s removal, and a lot of other people strongly opposed to the point of starting a lawsuit.
Instead he left it up to the City Council that voted 3-2 to spend $300,000 (that could have been used for anything else) to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park.
A 3-2 vote? That means that one person decided what to do about an issue that was already tearing the town apart.
Of course there were protests. Of course there were counterprotests. Of course people fought in the street. The issue had bred animosity in the community for years.
The entire point of government, and especially local government, is to keep people out of the street. Without a government, this is what naturally happens: factions form massive groups to then fight other groups. This is what happened in Charlottesville.
When the factions get large enough, they call themselves countries, and when the fights are bloody enough, we call this war. Governments are in place to prevent fighting between the people.
What does Trump have to do with this? Nothing. The Charlottesville government messed up, plain and simple. As elected officials, they certainly have the power to remove the Robert E. Lee statue. They were supposedly elected because they were trusted enough by the people to make decisions for their benefit. That is how a representative democracy works. But they also have the responsibility to consider the impact of their decisions. And when they mess up, they are accountable.
You know who else messed up? The vice mayor. The police did astoundingly little to stop the bloodshed, in part because they were ordered to do nothing unless commanded to do so.
The scariest part of all this is not the white supremacists or the neo-nazis. The scariest part is that all this is an artificial, organized conflict. Why are there so many emboldened people tearing down statues, as police watch and do nothing? Because they know that they will not be arrested. Because the police are in cahoots with the government, and they have been instructed not to make arrests. That means that this violence and even this whole now-fashionable idea to destroy monuments is not coming from the bottom by the will of the people—but it is organized from the top.
This is not surprising—who else in history destroys monuments? Communists, fascists, dictators. Historical objects create a sense of rootedness. They create a sense of country, place and time. For a short time, people lose their ego and remember that they are part of something greater—a collective conscience, a progression of technology and ideas, a nation. And that is why they are the first to go—dictators must destroy this sense of place and impose their own new and “improved” version based on their own ideology—with themselves at the center.
This is not so different from what we see now: a few people in power imposing their will on the people and stirring up violence. If this is not fascism, it is at least as scary.