The dangers of rewriting history
The recent terror in Charlottesville has sparked public debate on not just the evils of white supremacy, but the removal of national monuments throughout the country.
Within the past week, multiple Confederate statues have been removed, and the Lincoln Memorial – a monument to the face of the abolition movement – has been vandalized.
Violence and destruction from the so-called alt-right and alt-left does not align with true American values, and is to be condemned. Removing historic symbols will lead to the rewriting of history, spot-cleaning the events we wish to forget about.
We see this clearly in George Orwell’s novel 1984. The Party was fond of removing details from their archives, from changing names and dates, to removing events all together. The people no longer had any evidence of reality, as the narrator explains, “For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?”
If we allow society to continue on this path of historical destruction, the extreme circumstances we see in Orwell’s story will become our reality.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke on Fox News on the topic of removing Confederate statues in the country. As a firm believer of maintaining history, she said, “When you start sanitizing your history to make you feel better, that’s a bad thing.” She goes on to say that we may wish that the Founders had been different, but they were men of their time.
Yes, their participation with the tradition of keeping slaves was wrong. But many of these men believed that all men are created equal, were granted certain inalienable rights from God, and later freed those in their charge. These men set up the foundations of our nation, and the greatness of what they did should not be overshadowed by their sins. Both the good and bad in their lives should be recognized, but in recognizing their faults, we mustn’t forget their virtues. History must be preserved so that future generations may learn from the successes and failures of their ancestors.
Where will it end? If we allow the removal of everything that offends someone, America will be left desolate. We are not in a position to erase the parts of our history and heritage that we do not like. We may not be proud of the mistakes of our ancestors, but we cannot simply brush it away like the mistakes never happened. The minute we decide to forget a part of our history, is the minute we repeat the mistakes of our past.