The news that the Biden administration planned to remove a statue of William Penn in a federal park in Philadelphia that commemorates the founding of Pennsylvania, and that the purpose of the removal was to “provide a more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors,” should at this point not come as a surprise.
Once the removals and destruction of Confederate statues and memorials began a few years ago, it was inevitable that all historical figures from America’s past, even those with no connection to the Confederacy, would be subject to removal or destruction or erasure.
Why? Because the removal of statues and memorials by radical Democrats has never been about the past, it’s always been about the raw exercise of political power and the assertion of tyranny over a free people in the here and now. This has been true of commie revolutionaries for a long time now. Simply put, what they do to statues is what they plan to do to their political enemies. It starts with statues and books, and eventually ends with people.
It hardly matters that Monday evening, amid the public outrage that ensued when news of the Penn statue broke, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced that he had intervened and that the statue would remain where it is. Shapiro is a Democrat, so his effort to stop this is perhaps a sign that Dems are beginning to sense the radicals among them have gone too far in their cultural warfare against the rest of the country.
But I wouldn’t count on it. The fact that the National Park Service planned to do this as part of a “rehabilitation” of Philly’s Welcome Park (named for the ship, Welcome, which Penn took to Philadelphia in 1682) that envisioned an “expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia” tells you the bureaucrats at NPS think the Penn statue’s presence in the park is a problem, somehow offensive because William Penn was a white man.
It doesn’t matter that the same year he arrived, Penn signed a treaty with the Lenape (or Delaware) people that lasted 75 years, or that he went to great lengths to ensure the native people were treated well and paid fairly for their land. It doesn’t matter that Penn’s entire purpose in coming to America was to establish a Quaker colony for religious freedom that also guaranteed things like free and fair trial by jury, free elections, and other fundamental rights that would later make their way into the U.S. Bill of Rights.
In the context of the debate about statues and memorials, talking about all that is a waste of time. None of this has anything to do with actual American history and everything to do with politics and power in the present. I have been defending Confederate monuments for nearly a decade, ever since a staffer at The New Republic decided the 150th anniversary of Appomattox was the perfect occasion to argue for the desecration of Confederate grave markers in national cemeteries. I have explained the history of Confederate statuary in great detail, gone through the historical debates and deliberations that led to their creation, and argued ad nauseam for the preservation of these physical markers of our shared past.
A little over two years ago, I wrote a lengthy piece about the Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery and why it should be left in peace. I went into some detail explaining how the memorial came to be there, how President William McKinley, a decorated Union veteran who saw combat at Antietam and in the Shenandoah Valley, first conceived of the idea and inspired other Union vets to join the effort. Last month, the Biden administration dismantled and removed it.
So I’m not doing that anymore. From the moment the first essay was written calling for the toppling of Robert E. Lee’s likenesses, or the exhumation of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bones, it was inevitable that these Democrat revolutionaries would soon move on to other historical figures — as indeed they did. And when we saw the first images of a Black Lives Matter mob in the summer of 2020 pulling down random statues and defacing them with a mixture of glee and rage, it was clear enough that they would eventually move on to actual people.
Arguing about history with these people is pointless because they don’t care about historical realities or subtleties or facts, they only care about power. So this is my simple argument from now on for the statue question: No statues should come down, ever, for any reason. I don’t care if it’s a statue of Jefferson Davis waving a Confederate flag, leave it where it stands.
Why do I say this? Because once you grant the premise that there’s a problem with these statues, that they are somehow offensive or harmful, the contest is over and the radicals have won. And anyway, the premise itself is totally disingenuous. The last thing Democrats want right now is unity and peace among the American people. The idea that they genuinely believe toppling statues of historical figures from our nation’s past will bring people together is laughable and doesn’t deserve the dignity of a response.
At a time when President Joe Biden is openly campaigning for reelection by vilifying his political opposition as terrorists and insurrectionists, and trying with all his might to jail his chief political rival, former President Donald Trump, don’t try to tell me he cares about creating more inclusive public spaces, and that that’s why his administration is so keen to topple statues.
It’s not complicated. For Democrats, tearing down statues is a kind of dress rehearsal, not much different than book burning was for the Nazis. They want to erase their opponents from American public life, and if they can’t do it in an orderly and official way, they’ll use a mob.