Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
Back in May, a New Orleans statue of Joan of Arc was tagged with “Tear it Down” graffiti.
Why Joan of Arc? Any famous historical figure is by definition controversial. Joan is a French national symbol, but Shakespeare depicted her as a malicious witch. The French Quarter where the statue stands is a mostly white neighborhood. France was dealing with a controversial election.
This is what happens when you open a can of historical, religious and nationalistic worms.
The war on Confederate memorials quickly escalated into attacks on Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Memorial was vandalized in Washington D.C. and in Chicago, a statue of Lincoln was burned. Abraham Lincoln fought the Confederacy. But from a black nationalist perspective, Lincoln and Lee were both racist white devils. And to the left, they both embody white supremacy.
What began with tearing down General Lee, escalated to vandalizing statues of Junipero Serra.
Serra was an 18th century Catholic priest who set up missions in what is now California. He’s hated by some American Indian activists who accuse him of racism and colonialism. There are statues of Serra all over California. And while most Americans have never heard of him, a pitched battle is underway between Catholics who venerate him as a saint and left-wing activists who call him a genocidal racist.
These leftist activists began by vandalizing Columbus statues and then Junipero Serra. But Serra was also America’s first Latino saint. To Latinos, Serra is a hero. To some American Indians, he’s a villain. And Christopher Columbus is in the same boat. The statues of Columbus spread across America were often put up by Italian-American associations. Italian-Americans marched in Columbus Day festivals. Serra pits Latinos against American Indians. Italian-Americans and American Indians face off over Columbus.
The battle over Junipero Serra is a microcosm of the gaping national and religious fault lines on which so many statues stand. Our towns and cities are full of statues celebrating some group’s version of history. The civil society we used to have allowed different groups to each celebrate the heroes of their history.
It’s not just Confederate memorials that are the controversial remnants of an old war. The Hundred Years War that Joan was part of had its own winners and losers. And if that seems like ancient history, our cities are full of memorials and statues featuring Irish, Italian and Latin American nationalist figures.
Springfield, Massachusetts has a garden dedicated to the 1916 Easter Rising. There’s a statue of Irish nationalist Robert Emmet in Washington D.C.’s Triangle Park. Three miles away stands a statue of Winston Churchill near the British Embassy. There is a great deal of national history that separates both men, but they can coexist together in our civic spaces because of mutual historical tolerance.
There can be a statue of James Connolly in Chicago and of Winston Churchill in Fulton, Missouri.
If we have to start picking and choosing between Irish nationalists and British leaders, one set of statues would have to be torn down. And then eventually both sets. Every historical figure is controversial.
New York’s Central Park has equestrian statues of Simon Bolivar, Jose Marti and General Jose de San Martin. All the statues are controversial in their own way. It took years to get the Marti statue mounted. At one point anti-Castro Cuban exiles covertly put up a replica in its place in the middle of the night.
You don’t have to be a politician or soldier for your Central Park statue to be controversial. Dr. J Marion Sims, the father of modern gynecology, was targeted by black nationalist protesters for operating on slave women without anesthesia. Never mind that anesthesia wasn’t widely used at the time. To the medical profession, Dr. Sims is a hero. To the black nationalist leftists, he’s a villain.
If the anti-statue protesters get their way, the only statue left in the park will be Alice in Wonderland.
Black nationalists in New York have been allowed to name streets and parks after racists and Nazi collaborators like W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. The other side of the bargain that allowed black nationalists to have their own heroes, no matter how racist and terrible they were, is tolerance for the other groups exercising that same privilege. The anti-statue campaign violates that bargain. And like breaking the other bargains that maintain a civil society, it begins a civil war.
It’s not just Charlottesville, Baltimore or New Orleans. It’s vandals running around California and vandalizing Columbus and Serra. It’s Lincoln being set on fire and Joan of Arc getting vandalized.
In Glendale, California, Korean and Japanese groups are battling over a memorial to the “Comfort women” who were raped by the Japanese military during WWII. It’s yet another example of how a multicultural society becomes filled with explosive battles over history that can only be resolved with mutual tolerance or centralized censorship. The left has opted for the latter. And that’s dangerous.
Trying to make things better instead often makes them worse.
After the left complained that there were too few statues of female historical figures in New York, Bryant Park got a hideous statue of a squatting Gertrude Stein. While Stein was gay, with points for the LGBT checkbox, she was also an anti-Semitic Nazi collaborator, double points withdrawn.
In a bid to court feminists, gay activists and the artsy crowd, a New York City park got a statue of the woman who suggested that Hitler should win the Nobel Peace Prize for driving the Jews out of Europe.
But that’s also how history works. Every major figure has their negative sides if you go looking for them.
Behind the self-righteousness with which the left vandalizes Confederate memorials is also a great deal of hypocrisy. The double standards immunize comrades on the left from accountability and judgement.
Without a certain degree of tolerance and historical distance, no statue can stand the test of time.
In Philadelphia, the shortage of General Lee statues instead made the statue of Frank Rizzo a target. The former mayor and top cop of Philly suffered a defaced mural and calls to take down his statue. Black nationalists hate Rizzo because of his determination to crack down on Black Panther violence and terror. But gay rights activists have also targeted the statue over accusations of “homophobia”.
But why stop with Frank?
There are thousands of statues of Martin Luther King Jr. across America. The civil rights legend was an ordained minister who believed that homosexuality was a psychological problem that needed to be addressed. People have lost their jobs for less than that.
No, there’s no help for it.
All the statues must come down. Including the huge memorial on the Mall. All the streets named after Martin Luther King Jr must be renamed. If we’re going to hold historical figures accountable for not holding the same civil rights positions that the left adopted 5 minutes ago, why not start with King?
Either that or we can once again learn tolerance by leaving each other alone.
The left’s version of tolerance is just an endless civil war that pits groups against each other. It stirs up division and hatred under the false façade of justice. Its only possible outcome is to force everyone to accept one version of history while prohibiting everyone from having their own versions of history.
That’s not America. That’s Communist China and the Soviet Union.
In America, Churchill can co-exist with Connolly. There’s room for Junipero Serra and Chief White Eagle in California. New York offers a place for a bust of Napoleon III and a statue of Garibaldi (both men had once lived in exile in the city). And there’s also room for General Grant and General Lee.
History is complicated. Tyranny is simple.
A free society isn’t maintained by the brute force of easy answers, but with difficult compromises.
Tyranny offers the easy answer of eliminating all the statues that displease us. History tells us that the statues should stay. If we embrace the easy answer, soon there won’t be any statues left.
Either all the statues must stay. Or all the statues must go.
published in FrontPage magazine
Linda Sarsour (right). Photo: Screenshot.
Anti-Defamation League National Director CEO Jonathan Greenblatt slammed The New School on Monday over the Manhattan-based institution’s upcoming hosting of a panel discussion on antisemitism that will feature several prominent anti-Israel activists.
Participants in the Nov. 28 event — titled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice” — will include Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson.
“Having Linda Sarsour & head of JVP leading a panel on #antisemitism is like Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism,” Greenblatt tweeted on Monday. “These panelists know the issue, but unfortunately, from perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it.”
Mexico’s Sec. of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso, thanked the IDF team for their work to help the people of Mexico during the earthquakes. (IDF Spokesperson)
Mexico has reportedly announced that it will change its voting strategy at the United Nations and other international bodies by stopping to vote in favor of the Palestinians.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Figari contacted Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Pelad and told him of the shift in strategy for all upcoming voting procedures related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Perpetuating the romance of the Bolshevik regime, whose ‘good intentions’ cannot mask the horrors imposed in its name
This was written not in the Soviet Union or one of its satellites, but in New York in 1947 by Robert Warshow in Commentary magazine about the American culture of the previous decade. While slightly hyperbolic (the Southern Agrarians, the American Scholar, etc.?) it faithfully describes American Jewish culture of the time, emphatically including its Yiddish branch. At the extreme of this movement were people like Julius Rosenberg, George Koval, and Mark Zborowski, who actively spied for the Soviet Union. At the same time, editors of Communist publications, Hollywood and union activists, party writers and institutional leaders were all directed by Moscow and were joined by rank-and-file members in promoting the virtues of Stalinism over the evils of American constitutional democracy.
How the grandparents of today’s Christian victims of ISIS were also butchered by Muslims.
Editor’s Note: The following review was written by Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The book reviewed is Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History (published by the Oxford University Press, 2016), by Joseph Yacoub, an Honorary Professor of Political Science at Catholic University of Lyon. A significantly shorter version of this review first appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017.
This important contribution to genocide studies documents how the world’s oldest Christian communities—variously referred to as Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Arameans, but best known as Assyrians—were, along with the Armenians, “victims of the [Ottoman] plan for exterminating Christianity, root and branch,” to quote Lord Bryce, circa. 1920. In fact, as half of the Assyrian population was massacred—going from 600,000 to 300,000 in 1915-18—relative to their numbers, no other Christian group, including the Armenians, suffered as much under the Ottomans.
Three non-Jewish men and one non-Jewish woman went up to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, on Thursday morning, and took part in a ceremony in which they received upon themselves the responsibility of adhering to the seven Noahide laws and were officially accepted by a rabbinic tribunal.
The seven Noahides went up to the Temple Mount accompanied by a group of rabbis. One rabbi explained to them the significance of the place and how the Temple was intended as a House of Prayer for all Nations, that benefits the entire world. The rabbis then discussed the laws pertinent to a non-Jewish resident of Israel, righteous gentiles, and the commandments incumbent upon them.
Allahu Akbar. You hear it everywhere these days.
Special agent Scott Wickland said that he heard cries of “Allahu Akbar” before the Benghazi attack. And then the guards ran for their guns.
In Nice, France, the Islamic terrorist who killed 86 people and wounded over 400 by running them over with a truck, shouted, “Allahu Akbar”. In New York, the Islamic terrorist who was trying to imitate him, also shouted, “Allahu Akbar.” The 9/11 hijackers had the same message, “Allahu Akbar”.
With so many investigations and promised indictments, why is the prime minister’s popularity still so high? Part of it is certainly the convoluted nature of the allegations. The more closely one examines them, the more unbelievable they become.For all the differences between Israeli and American Jews, one thing is uncannily similar: the daily headlines lambasting their current political leader.
Normally, we’re allowed to discuss everything, even the salaries of senior judges and police officers. And if we want, we can even demand a pay raise for the prime minister.
There’s no taboo. Everything can and should be on the table. Even a law granting the prime minister immunity from police investigations, in a slightly more reasonable version, is an appropriate subject for a public debate.
But these are not normal times. We are in the midst of a dangerous campaign against the heads of the law enforcement system. They are not immune to criticism. But in the past few months, something completely different has been happening. of the campaign.
There has always been a debate about the “loyalty” of Israeli Arabs. Meaning, of course, Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, apart from those living in the West Bank/Judea-Samaria.
Now, a new poll bolsters the argument that these Palestinians are a sort of Fifth Column within the Jewish state.
Not loyal at all.
According to a report in the Times of Israel:
“Two-thirds of Arab Israelis believe Israel has ‘no right’ to define itself as the Jewish nation state, while a majority of Jewish Israelis (58 percent) say those who reject that definition of Israel should have their citizenship revoked, according to a new poll underlining deep divisions between the two communities.
A report on Channel 10—a known stronghold of Bibi-animosity—claims that
senior law enforcement officials have concluded there is sufficient evidence to file an indictment against [Prime Minister Netanyahu] on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust…. The report quoted an unofficial police opinion according to which the evidence that has accumulated against Netanyahu is robust…. The State Attorney’s Office, Channel 10 reported, was also coming to the opinion that there are grounds to file an indictment on bribery, but was not as sure as the police.
Most of the latest purported information—once again leaked by the police, guardians of virtue in the Bibi-hunt who have leaked ruthlessly and systematically throughout this affair—concerns Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is alleged to have done favors for his longtime friend, businessman and movie mogul Arnon Milchan, in return for gifts of cigars and champagne.