Most Americans do care about preserving the statues and other monuments dedicated to our nation’s heroes. Most Americans certainly do not believe that mobs should decide who does or does not deserve to be honored as part of America’s heritage. But leftists don’t trust the American people. The cancel culture crowd think they are entitled to cancel the American story of great progress towards a more perfect union and replace it with their own alternative of dystopian fiction. According to CNN anchor Don Lemon, for example, young people “have asked for decades” for the removal of certain statues and now “the chickens are coming home to roost.” Lemon said that Americans for too long have been taught “propaganda” and added that “some things you have to un-learn so that you can become a better citizen.” That sounds like what the Chinese Communists were saying during their cultural revolution.
Christopher Columbus is on the left-wingers’ hit list. No longer are elementary school students introduced to the rhyme that generations of students before them had recited, “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Leftists demand that school curricula portray Christopher Columbus’s forays to the “New World” as the original sin of colonialist exploitation of indigenous peoples living in a heretofore untouched ‘paradise.’ Leftists’ stereotyping of Columbus as an evil imperialist motivated solely by greed and lust for power over hapless indigenous people is the false mirror image of their outrageous attempt to delegitimize the United States itself as the embodiment of white supremacy.
Human bondage already existed on the islands that Columbus visited, as well as cannibalism – not exactly an indigenous peoples’ ‘paradise.’ Moreover, acknowledging Columbus’s far from spotless record in how he treated the people he encountered in the lands he explored does not negate the historic importance of what he accomplished. Columbus deserves to be honored as a courageous visionary who set in motion by his explorations a chain of events that would lead ultimately to the creation of the world’s leading beacon of hope, opportunity and freedom.
The iconoclasts of the far left also demonize our nation’s founding fathers – their reputations trashed, and statues toppled or defaced. They were just a bunch of slave-owning white supremacists who should be reviled, not revered, according to the far left narrative.
Like Christopher Columbus, our nation’s founding fathers were neither saints nor devils. They were complex human beings who were imperfect to be sure. However, the founding fathers were visionaries who put into practice the principles of the Age of Enlightenment based on reason and science rather than superstition and divine right of kings. They had the wisdom and foresight to design a flexible system of self-government that could progress over time and move closer towards full realization of the nation’s founding ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Moreover, contrary to the far left narrative, not all the founding fathers were diehard slaveowners. John Adams, for instance, never owned any slaves. Benjamin Franklin’s two slaves were freed during his lifetime. He became the president of an abolitionist group called the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage.
George Washington remained a slaveowner during his lifetime but arranged in his will for his slaves to be freed after his death. Towards the end of his life, Washington wrote, “The unfortunate condition of the persons, whose labour in part I employed, has been the only unavoidable subject of regret.” He expressed some sympathy for the emerging abolitionist cause and indicated that he would support the elimination of slavery if done through the legislative process.
Alexander Hamilton supported the idea of freeing those slaves who joined the Continental Army. Having emigrated to America from a Caribbean island where he observed slavery firsthand, he would later write that there was no reason why “one man should exercise any power or pre-eminence over his fellow-creatures. . . unless they have voluntarily vested him with it.” But leftists today do not think that is good enough. They have even recently demanded the cancellation of the highly acclaimed musical ‘Hamilton,’ which depicted the life of the immigrant Alexander Hamilton, after it was shown on Disney+. Leftist critics bemoaned the musical’s romanticizing of Hamilton and the other founding fathers, and its glossing over their association with slavery. Hamilton did not own any slaves himself. However, his “sins” apparently included working for a slave-trading firm as a teenager before he emigrated to America and the fact that he married into a prominent New York slaveholding family.
#CancelHamilton” trended on Twitter after the musical’s showing on Disney+. Even a musical honoring diversity and the contribution of immigrants to American history is suspect because it dared to also honor America itself and its founders. Instead of defending what he was trying to do and pushing back against the expanding cancel culture, the show’s creator, Lin Manuel-Miranda, apologized. “That we have not yet firmly spoken the inarguable truth that Black Lives Matter and denounced systematic racism and white supremacy from our official ‘Hamilton’ channels is a moral failure on our part,” Manuel-Miranda said in a groveling video. “As the writer of the show, I take responsibility and apologize for my part in this moral failure.”
Thomas Jefferson is the leftists’ favorite founding father punching bag, representing to them the preeminent white supremacist hypocrite among the founders. True, Jefferson did enslave more than six hundred people during his lifetime while publicly condemning slavery as contrary to the laws of nature that he espoused in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson held on to his slaves for his personal benefit even as he tried in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence to incorporate a specific paragraph denouncing slavery introduced by the British to the American colonies. Jefferson was unsuccessful because the Southern colony delegates insisted on its removal as a condition for supporting the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson endorsed the principle of gradual emancipation without setting an example himself in his lifetime. All of that can be legitimately discussed, however, without throwing Jefferson’s positive legacy into the dustbin of history. Thomas Jefferson’s personal shortcomings do not erase the fact that his more noble self was able to set down the principle of equality and inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that remain our nation’s North Star. Martin Luther King recognized this when he said that the words of Jefferson and the other “architects of our republic” were a “promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
The cancel culture leftists want to destroy Americans’ liberties. In order to do so, they must delegitimize the America created by our founding fathers. They must destroy the symbols that generations of Americans have grown up revering. They seek to turn American history into the dark chronicle of horrors for which the ‘white supremacist oppressor’ class must be punished and atone. All freedom-loving Americans should stand up to these destructive mobs and cancel out their cancel culture hatred of the values we hold dear.