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Monuments, Memorials, and the Mob Mentality

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Steve Helber

We’ve reached a breaking point with cancel culture.

We’ve seen extremists topple and deface historic statues of Christopher Columbus and Sir Winston Churchill. Thousands have signed a petition to remove a statue in Boston featuring Lincoln and a freed slave. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben are now canceled.

Cancel culture has come for the children’s show “Paw Patrol.” They tried to cancel Domino’s Pizza simply for tweeting thanks to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany 8 years ago for a compliment she tweeted at them. Next on the list will be classic shows like Seinfeld, characters like Barney Fife, and monuments for Washington and Jefferson. 

Don’t be mistaken, actions like the banning of the Confederate flag by NASCAR was a move in the right direction. That flag is commonly viewed as representative of hatred in America. It’s entirely fair for businesses and companies to decide that allowing the Confederate flag to fly allows the wrong message to be perpetuated. 

The same goes for the removal of statues dedicated to Confederate generals. For those on the right who claim to hate the snowflake culture that thrives on participation trophies, isn’t that exactly what these statues represent? Rather than allowing Confederate monuments and statues to be brought down in protest, cities could peaceably take them down and place them in a civil war museum where their past display would be taught as a part of their history. 

But where does it stop? The mob is no longer merely seeking to rectify racial injustice. They’ve commandeered a movement in favor of the preferred cancel culture. The short answer is, for the mob it will never stop. They have been indoctrinated to hate America and view it as the root of all evil.

We’ve reached the point of damnatio memoriae – a Latin phrase meaning condemnation of memory. It’s the total erasure of something from history as though it never existed.

What else could explain defacing the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial honoring the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union Army? Think about that. A memorial was destroyed honoring black individuals fighting under the American flag and carrying the American flag in the Civil War.

Only the complete hatred of America could explain the defacing of a statue in Philadelphia dedicated to Matthias Baldwin, an American abolitionist. This was a person talking about black lives mattering 150 years before it became trendy to post a black square on social media. The destruction certainly wasn’t in the name of advancing African American causes.

We’re seeing the Lincoln Memorial defaced, yet a statue in Seattle of Vladimir Lenin, a man in the conversation with Hitler and Stalin when it comes to evil, completely unscathed. There’s no rhyme or reason for the destruction. 

We’ve advanced beyond removing Confederate memorials, statues, and flags to a predominately white, uninformed group of liberals destroying any statue they come across with zero consistency. There’s an obsession with attacking history without realizing in many cases they’re attacking good history.

Would these people not have spray-painted graves at Arlington Cemetery if there wasn’t a fence? Would we be outraged if such a thing occurred? I can assure you that a gold star mother would not be pleased to show up and see the grave of her child defaced. If you think it’s far-fetched, just look at the World War 2 Memorial in Washington, DC or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

Just as no person is perfect, nations aren’t perfect. That includes America. Luckily, we live in a society where those past and current imperfections can be discussed openly, reflected upon, learned from, and rectified in the future to help form “a more perfect union.”

It is an impossible standard to meet when you attempt to hold people from centuries ago to the current standards of today, which have evolved over those years. Heaven forbid we’re judged by the standards of the world 500 years from now when they look back on us. 

Removing Confederate monuments is one thing, but if we continue down the current path of advocating for the cancelation of Paw Patrol and George Washington how far will it go?

Learning about our history, the way it has evolved, and what it represents is important. It’s important to understand our mistakes of the past. Yet, all of those capitulating to the mob hoping to be spared, will still become future targets. The mob has already canceled those simply for daring to offer a dissenting opinion. If we don’t reign in the cancel culture now, we risk having nothing left.

Evan Berryhill is a lawyer, political strategist and former Capitol Hill staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @EvBerryhill.

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