In Defense of Columbus, American Culture, and Cops

I usually don’t comment on national issues, this being a ward-focused blog. But the current unrest, nationally and locally, requires some pushback.

The City of Chicago is currently being pressured by protesters to remove statues and change park and street names associated by some with racism and injustice. To her credit, Myor Lightfoot did not cave to ignorant protesters who do not know anything about history or what those statues signify in a historical context. All of the statues represent significant figures in American and world history. Parks and streets were named for Americans who made significant contributions to local, state, or national progress. It is unfortunately true that racism precluded the inclusion of hisotically significant Black figures. It is time to remedy that. Surely somebody can see that a possible solution is putting up additional statues, rather than tearing down statues of those who achieved great deeds whatever their personal flaws.

Columbus, for example, is now often referred to as a “controversial” figure who brought death and destruction to America’s Indian population. To set the record straight, Columbus never even set foot in North America. His voyages took him to the Caribbean and South and Central America. It is true that Columbus and his men brought germs and diseases to which the native inhabitants of the various lands they explored had no resistance. That doesn’t make them murderers.

Look at historical instances like the Black Plague, the Spanish Flu, and today’s coronavirus. Each of these diseases spread globally, but their carriers can hardly be held accountable as murderers. If that were the case, we should be holding the American Indians responsible for the plague of lung cancer deaths brought about by tobacco, a plant unknown in Europe until Columbus brought it back from America.

Yes, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. At that time in history, slavery existed globally–including in Africa, Mexico, and among the indigenous populations of North and South America. And slavery still exists in some areas of Africa today.

Viewing history through a twenty-first-century lens distorts how much progress humans have made. Yes, it’s hard to understand how a man who owned other men and women could pen the Declaration of Independence, but 18th Century men were just as complicated as we are today. People 200 years from now will no doubt be equally shocked by today’s world and its guiding beliefs as well.

The rhetoric about statues isn’t really about the statues or who and what they represent. It isn’t about George Floyd either. It’s an attempt to erase the legacy of white European culture in America. The anarchists leading the charge want nothing short of a return to primitive savagery and brutality, with them at the top of the hierarchy that will quickly be established once the rule of law is vanquished. Portland and Seattle are just the first taste of what awaits us should the anarchists prevail.

The current attack on everything deemed “White” is rooted in ignorance. America was founded in freedom by patriots whose intellectual lives were informed by the Enlightenment. Such ideas may have been discussed around campfires in Africa or Latin America, but it was cultured and educated Europeans who had the time and leisure to reflect on the human condition and how to improve it to better the lot of the masses. They spread their ideas through books, travel, conversation, and correspondence, ideas that came to America with colonists like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison, and the writings of Thomas Paine.

I believe Black Lives Matter exists only as a means to power. That is, by exaggerating the number ofincidents of police brutality toward Black men and women, BLM hopes to hijack the current movement against racism by moving the conversation in another direction. That is why BLM is eager to take to the streets when there is occasional police violence against a Black man or woman but has nothing whatever to say when Blacks kill other Blacks for no reason. There have been no BLM demonstrations protesting the murders of young Black children on the South and West sides of Chicago or in New York. Nor have there been any protests about the senseless slaughter that young Black men inflict on their communities on a daily basis across our country. Does BLM exaggerate the number of incidents of police brutality? Yes.
Does it ever protest against Blacks killing other Blacks? No. Don’t their lives matter, or is this just empty rhetoric?

On the BLM website BLM leaders themselves proudly proclaim that they are trained Marxists whose goal is the overthrow of the existing system, i.e., the American government. To say that their movement has been infiltrated by anarchists is just plain wrong. Their goals are the same. As Maya Angelou said, “When people tell you who they are, believe them.”

Cowardly politicians are afraid to stand up to these mobs because they fear “being on the wrong side of history” will cost them votes in the next election. What they don’t realize is that democracy ends if the anarchists triumph. And politicians won’t be a part of anything because lawful government will cease to exist.

So who stands up for America? Who stops the mob? Who says “No” to looters and rioters? Who guards our streets and protects us from the threat of encountering angry mobs in our neighborhoods?

Our cops. Yeah, the men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us every single day. The very people the mobs and BLM want to defund. That’s the first step on the road to the destruction of law and order. The ensuing chaos will result in a new order, and it won’t be rooted in fair, unbiased laws justly administered.

I agree that our entire political system is corrupt and that this corruption has infected government at all levels. But let’s not single out the police for radical restructuring. A few rogue cops are the least of our problems. Defunding the police is not the answer to what ails America. I believe the institution in need of immediate reform is the Democrat Party.

The Democrats have sought power by slicing and dicing America into ever-smaller special interest groups. These groups are fighting one another for an ever-smaller piece of the economic pie. Meanwhile, the upper class gets a larger and larger slice. Investors and technocrats keep the Democrat leadership structure in place because it works for them, if not the country. And as we’ve seen, especially over the past 3 years, the Democrats have no moral compass. They lie with straight faces. They support the destruction, both personal and economic, of those who disagree with them. Now, all politicians lie. But the Democrats have wasted time and money on political vendettas rather than working constructively on national problems. They are consumed by such an irrational hatred of Donald Trump that they will do anything to get him out of the White House. They will even put on Kente cloth and take a knee to terrorists. Blue cities in blue states burn because cowardly Democrats will not stand up to anarchists. Democrats are fueled by their hatred of Donald Trump rather than any passion for justice or the common good.

I think we all need to take a step back. Let’s think about what we believe and what ideas we support. Let’s find or start groups that match our ideals, groups without hidden agendas, groups that support the common good. Throwing out the entire system may seem like a good idea in the moment, but it’s a bad idea overall. Let’s return things to the way they were supposed to function from the beginning. Let’s not join a march unless we’re sure of the people and cause. Let’s spend more time making thoughtful choices when we vote.

The cops are not the enemy. Cops do, their best to keep us all safe. Yes, a few cops do overreact. Let’s help them do better. Let’s train them in de-escalation techniques. Let’s train our kids and young people to respect the police and the work they do. Columbus is not the font of all evil. He was an Italian explorer who discovered America for the Europeans, who didn’t know there was such a land mass. It is not his fault that a more primitive hunter-gatherer society succumbed to a more industrialized culture and its germs. History can teach us much, but we have to read, reflect, and think for ourselves.

Remember: Anarchists don’t read books. They burn them.