Washington and Lee
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. —George Washington
I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. —George again
Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. —Robert E. Lee
Sometimes stories in the news can get me rather worked up, or at least amazed, outraged, and/or intrigued enough to follow the narrative closely to see where it goes. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, with hysterical and/or Machiavellian Democrats doing everything they could manage to stop him, including accusing him of being a serial rapist, and indirectly to thwart President Trump in the process, was a story that really had me in a state of towering indignation at the corruption and degeneracy of American politics. Another story that I followed closely was the weird saga of the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax, in which the guy apparently hired two black friends of his to fake an attack on him so he could blame white Trump supporters—and who has simply doubled down after being found out, even to the point of throwing his two friends under the proverbial bus in insisting upon his innocence, and their guilt. (With regard to that one, the very fact that he never dropped his sandwich while fighting his two redneck assailants struck me as highly suspicious.) Now there’s another head-shaker of a story in the news which is getting less publicity, but which is bizarrely dystopian nevertheless, and which I more or less prophesied: Students are protesting against representations of George Washington—at schools named after George Washington.
The big story takes place at George Washington High School in the progressive utopia known as San Francisco, California. When the school was built in the 1930s a Russian artist named Victor Arnautoff was commissioned to paint frescos on the walls commemorating George Washington, the namesake of the school. Some panels of the mural, two especially, portray black slaves and American Indians, including one dead Indian—which have been declared “traumatizing” to students and other delicate individuals who happen to see them. Consequently, a 13-person “reflection and action group” determined that the entire group of frescos, representing the life of Washington, should be destroyed by painting over them. Part of their statement reads:
We come to these recommendations due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native Americans and African Americans with these depictions in the mural that glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc. This mural doesn’t represent SFUSD [San Francisco Unified School District] values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered. It’s not student-centered if it’s focused on the legacy of artists, rather than the experience of the students. If we consider the SFUSD equity definition, the “low” mural glorifies oppression instead of eliminating it. It also perpetuates bias through stereotypes rather than ending bias. It has nothing to do with equity or inclusion at all. The impact of this mural is greater than its intent ever was. It’s not a counter-narrative if [the mural] traumatizes students and community members.
The thing is, though, that the artist was emphatically not “glorifying” slavery, genocide, colonization, etc. As can be seen in the mural panels in question, the black slaves, including Washington’s personal servant who is holding his horse’s reins, are simply portrayed as working, as are some white people also. The dead Indian is shown in full color, in contrast to some pioneers shown in monochrome, apparently to symbolize the dehumanizing effect the mistreatment of Indians had on the pioneers themselves. One scene portrays a white man and an Indian sitting together, the Indian disarmed, below a tree with a broken branch—the branch reportedly symbolizing the broken promises and broken treaties made by the whites. The whole purpose of these scenes is to educate the viewer of the historical facts that early white Americans, including Washington himself, owned slaves, that early American agriculture relied heavily on slave labor, and that American Indians were killed and treated unjustly. In fact the artist Victor Arnautoff, a Russian, was a progressive leftist himself by the standards of the 1930s, so much so that he subsequently left the USA and willingly moved back to the Soviet Union. He evidently preferred Marxism to Capitalism. Yet to the postmodern progressive mind, even to acknowledge historical facts disapprovingly is to glorify slavery and genocide. The past must be censored, for the sake of not upsetting the delicate feelings of people indoctrinated into victim culture and conditioned to be traumatized at the drop of a hat.
|the traumatizing panel of the mural entitled "Westward Vision"|
The other news story involves George Washington University, located in Washington DC. It is older news, concerning events which reached their fever pitch almost a year ago, although the George Washington High School story evidently revived it in the news cycle. It appears that, as the latest incident of a continual series of protests, students yet again found the team name of the University, the Colonials, and its mascot, a caricatured personification of George Washington, to be “extremely offensive,” so much so that a petition was circulated, accumulating a few hundred signatures, to change the name and abolish the mascot. Part of the petition reads, “the use of ‘Colonials,’ no matter how innocent the intention, is received as extremely offensive by not only students of the University, but the nation and world at large.” Also, “The historically, negatively-charged figure of Colonials has too deep a connection to colonization and glorifies the act of systemic oppression.” The good news here is that, as far as I can tell, the activists failed to get the team renamed as the Hippos, and the Washingtonesque mascot has dodged the axe until next time. The San Francisco High School story, however, remains unresolved. There are some who consider the murals themselves to be of cultural and artistic value, and thereby something to be preserved even if some people are offended by them, and that may be what saves them, not simple common sense regarding the acknowledgement of history.
The long and the short of it is that George Washington, founding father and first President of the USA, was not a good ultraliberal progressive by the standards of 21st-century leftism, and he criminally failed to obey slavishly the social justice decrees and political correctness taboos of more than two centuries after the time of his existence. He did things that were completely allowable by the standards of his own time, but which now are considered to be evil by American leftists, even when retroactively applied to people who lived at other times and followed other social standards. Furthermore, it is apparent that even the portrayal of historical reality, of empirical, objective facts, is now “traumatizing” and something to be censored and banned. Although virtually every civilization and culture is ultimately based on colonization, the people who did the original colonizing are the moral equivalent of terrorists and mass murderers—and should be condemned as such, although only if they were white men. Slavery and invasion were pretty much universal in this world until fairly recently, although of course it is only to be acknowledged and condemned when it was done by men of the European race, because they are the enemy, the new outgroup to be demonized by cultural Marxism.
I predicted this sort of thing would happen shortly after I learned of the infamous riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, which occurred on 12 August 2017. I was living in Burma at the time and had less Internet access than now, so I wasn’t ruminating on it as I have with regard to other, similar stories, but still it is really a significant event in American history, so for those of you who were hibernating at the time or else actually believed the official media narrative I suppose I should summarize what happened.
The situation which triggered the demonstration, the counterdemonstration, and the riot when the two came into conflict, was similar to the situation concerning George Washington above—a politically correct drive to tear down monuments of the American Civil War, including a statue of General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. As was the case with General Washington, General Lee, and probably most of the leaders of the Confederacy, owned slaves, were presumably in favor of slavery, and thus were evil persons to be eliminated from the politically correct public memory. Public statues of Lee were declared to be a glorification of slavery, racism, and the evil of white men in general, and so every one of them, or as many of them as possible (the statues, not necessarily the white men), should be destroyed.
This plan to tear down the monument rubbed quite a few people the wrong way, including some “alt-right” groups, white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and so forth, who decided to demonstrate in favor of keeping the statue standing. (The statue itself was in a park that until shortly before had been called Lee Park, but that also had been changed for reasons of political correctness.) Other people who weren’t white nationalists, etc., but who were opposed to destroying the monument, also attended the demonstration. This resulted in opposing groups, including members of Antifa, coming to harass and drive away the demonstrators and to insist on the destruction of all Confederate monuments, on the grounds that they are not so much historical monuments as glorifications of evil. There were certainly also non-radical, peaceful counter-demonstrators in attendance. So on both sides there were extremists and non-extremists.
If the Antifa types hadn’t come looking for trouble, in all probability the right-wingers would have had their parade, given some speeches, waved some flags, and then gone home to drink beer and maybe watch a movie. But the radical left-wingers were not there to demonstrate peacefully and were screaming and throwing bottles, rocks, and other projectiles into the crowd of right-wingers, who I suppose I should mention had even taken the trouble to get a legal permit allowing their demonstration. Antifa members with the standard hoodies and black masks were also throwing rocks and bottles at the police who were attempting to maintain order. Finally, a guy named James Fields, one of the right-wingers aforementioned, presumably snapped in sheer outrage and frustration over being screamed at and attacked by the left-wingers; and so he got into his car and plowed into a crowd of the latter, resulting in the death of one woman, Heather Heyer, and the injury of many others. Mr. Fields is now in prison for life for murder.
When President Trump spoke out publicly about the riot, he correctly stated that there were good people and bad people on both sides of the incident. He explicitly condemned white supremacism, and was referring to the non-radicals on both sides who were in attendance when he stated that there were “very fine people” on both sides. In other words, good people didn’t want the monuments torn down either, and had shown up for the demonstration. Also, some of the people who disapproved of a statue of a slave owner in a public place were also good. Trump was trying to be conciliatory. Pretty straightforward really.
But of course the mainstream media, most of whom hate President Trump with a raging, hysterical hatred, and who are willing to justify the actions of Antifa, jumped at the opportunity to declare that Mr. Trump had publicly defended neo-Nazis, white supremacism, racism, and maybe slavery as well. In fact many so-called journalists still declare this. This may still be the official, controlled narrative for “normies,” for all I know. But the fact is as Mr. Trump acknowledged: there were wrongdoers on both sides and people innocent of wrongdoing on both sides. This is very hard to swallow by ultraliberals who cannot accept that their own side can sometimes (let alone usually) be in the wrong, or that their opponents can somehow fail to be evil.
So anyway, after learning of this effort to unperson Robert E. Lee, truly a major figure in the story of America, the spirit came upon me and I began to prophesy: Sooner or later, the same kind of hypersensitive ultraliberal activists would come for George Washington himself, the Father of His Country. And it has come to pass. In fact, if political correctness hysteria continues to progress along the path that it is on, it won’t be very long before hysterical mobs are demanding the Washington Monument be torn down or renamed, the name of the nation’s Capital changed, the name of the state in which I grew up changed (famous for its apples and increasingly famous for being a neo-Marxist political hellhole), and Washington’s visage removed from US currency and replaced by a black woman (who couldn’t have accomplished very much from a historical point of view, but of course good-intentioned lefties will do their best).
All this is because, really, General Washington and General Lee were not so different. As already mentioned, both owned black slaves, and were in favor of the institution of slavery sufficiently that they went along with it. Both were military generals—although in that respect I’m pretty sure that Lee was far superior to Washington, considering that Washington appears to have been a mediocre strategist. Both did, however, have the qualities required to inspire the profound respect of their men, and of the people in general; they were both respected even by their adversaries, and had reputations for integrity and honor. The two men apparently had similar ideas about what American politics should be like, with states being largely autonomous, and loosely confederated into a voluntarily cooperative federalist system. Both were very probably white supremacists, because in those days pretty much all white people were white supremacists, even the ones opposed to slavery. And of course both men led rebellions against the officially recognized, legal reigning government—King George III in the case of Washington, and the Lincoln administration in the case of Lee. Possibly the most obvious difference between the two men is that Washington was on the winning side of his war, whereas Lee was not. So the main reason why Lee is more likely to be seen as a villain is simply that he was “on the wrong side of history.” History is written by the victors.
So it was pretty obvious really, not requiring much of a gift of prophecy to see it, that sooner or later the left-wing grievance mobs would start gunning for the first POTUS, and many of the other founding fathers also, including the third POTUS, Thomas Jefferson, who also owned slaves and oversaw the conquest of Native American tribes. If the faces of slave-owning and/or Indian-killing presidents are eventually removed from American money, I do hope that they won’t be replaced by black women whose primary claim to fame is that they were black women. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Apache hero Geronimo, or Herman Melville, or Thomas Edison on money; though as a monk I don’t use the stuff anyway.
The whole situation illustrates the hysterical inability of postmodern leftism—cultural Marxism, social justice, progressivism, intersectionality, emancipatory politics, socialized globalism, ultraliberal lunacy, whatever you want to call it—objectively to accept harsh empirical realities, including practically all of human history. The ugly fact is that people in the past (not just white males, but everyone) behaved in politically incorrect ways by postmodern neo-Marxist standards. The way that the neo-Marxists themselves behave today may well be viewed as grotesquely inappropriate and wrong by the politically correct masses a hundred years from now, although that’s a whole different matter. Slavery; violent invasion, conquest, and genocide of other tribes and nations; oppression of women and minorities; draconian punishments for sexual aberrations—all of this has been pretty much standard for most of the history of the human race, and all of it continues to exist to some degree, especially in certain non-white societies. To give just one example, there are still millions of human beings being bought and sold as property, as slaves, in northern and western Africa even today. Various sorts of barbarism may be ingrained into human nature sufficiently that they will never be completely eradicated even from the mainstream. Really, the European or white race, although vilified as the enemy by the progressives, has represented the most progressive civilization on earth over the past many centuries; it is primarily the Europeans and their colonies that have championed equality, human rights, respect for women, etc. and promoted it throughout the world. Which is one big reason why white progressives now have the right to behave as stupidly and outrageously as they so often do.
|the traumatizing "Mount Vernon"|
APPENDIX: A FEW LINKS ON THE GEORGE WASHINGTON DEBATE
On the traumatizing murals at George Washington High School:
A somewhat amusing and somewhat cringey debate on RT (a Russian outlet) over the murals:
On the highly offensive team name and mascot at George Washington University: