Three items caught my attention in the run-up to our nation's birthday celebration:
• Nike pulled a shoe adorned with a Betsy Ross flag because former NFL quarterback turned professional race provocateur Colin Kaepernick complained that the flag existed when slavery existed.
Kaepernick, who probably doesn't know much American history, even of the recent kind, probably also didn't know that the Ross flag was one of the flags under which our first black president took the oath of office for his second term.
• Exquisitely timed for the arrival of the Fourth of July, the city council of Charlottesville, Va., voted to replace its holiday commemorating the birth of Thomas Jefferson with a "Liberation and Freedom Day," apparently on the assumption that the Declaration of Independence had little to do with liberation or freedom.
Few would know where Charlottes-ville is or care if it were not the location of Monticello and the University of Virginia, otherwise known as "Mr. Jefferson's University."
• The San Francisco school board voted to paint over a mural, The Life of Washington, at George Washington High School on the grounds that it reflected "Manifest Destiny," "white supremacy" and other nasty things that might offend students from marginalized groups.
Spending lots of money ($600,000!) to paint over a highly regarded work of WPA art from the 1930s would be a form of "reparations," according to one of the board members.
Art historian Brian T. Allen more accurately called it "official vandalism."
Embedded in such incidents, along with the copious amounts of sheer stupidity, are a couple of principles that suggest there will be a great deal more "official vandalism" and ideological cleansing of the public square to come.
As many pointed out when it was just Confederate statues being threatened, the idea that anything which offends anybody based on contemporary hyper-woke sensitivities should be pulled down or renamed contains no stopping point of any kind.
Slippery slopes really do exist, and once you start vandalizing or removing artifacts from the past due to their being insufficiently politically correct according to the standards of the present, you get on that slope and can't get off, to the "if A, then B" point of destroying just about everything.
The Taliban dynamited ancient Buddha statues because they believed, in their primitive intolerance, that the existence of artifacts of other religions insulted theirs. The San Francisco school board in its virtue-signaling intolerance takes this a step further by destroying not just what offends its members but also what might hypothetically offend someone somewhere.
The Kaepernick caveat--that anything that existed when slavery also existed should be forbidden--accelerates the pace of the slide, since slavery existed throughout the overwhelming majority of human existence, in most places as recently as a couple of centuries ago, in some even as recently as the past century. To apply such a principle in consistent fashion would thus mean erasing history itself, to the point of making it impossible to teach and learn about the past, including our experiences with slavery, imperialism, and racism.
The question asked when it was just about Christopher Columbus or Robert E. Lee--where does this end?--can now be answered: It doesn't, because once started, it can't.
In addition to this, there is the growing sense that, as liberalism lurches rapidly toward hard-left radicalism, its relationship with the American experiment becomes increasingly awkward. Given their depiction of American life as incorrigibly racist and sexist, and the American past as consisting of little more than slavery and imperialism, it becomes difficult to see how radical lefties can find anything on the Fourth of July to actually celebrate.
At the least, one suspects that when the rest of us were lighting sparklers and grilling burgers and taking the kids to the parades, our woke folk were sitting inside sulking and muttering under their breath about the deplorables making too much noise.
After all, if you can't celebrate Thomas Jefferson, it's going to be something of a stretch to celebrate what he wrought with the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident." And if you see our flag as nothing but a symbol of slavery, you're unlikely to want to wave it about.
Recent results from Gallup tell us that 76 percent of Republicans are "extremely proud" of their country, a figure that has varied little over the years, while only 22 percent of Democrats say they are, down from 56 percent at the beginning of Barack Obama's second term.
Republicans apparently like their country whether a Democrat or Republican is president, Democrats only when a Democrat is, and even then not as much.
"America, love it or leave it" was the kind of thing Archie Bunker types used to say, but it remains unclear why people who despise America continue to stay in America, why, if there are so many better places to go, as their rhetoric suggests, and no constraints preventing them from going, they choose to live and work in and thus benefit from the system of oppression and injustice they so vehemently denounce.
Maybe because America isn't nearly as bad as they say it is? And because in no other country could they make such asses of themselves to such great applause?
Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.
Editorial on 07/15/2019
Print Headline: BRADLEY R. GITZ: Left in America