Vanishing - Where Has History Gone?

Vanishing - Where Has History Gone?

When I was in school, history had a central thought:

We study history to learn from past mistakes and build a better future.

The trojan horse taught us to keep our friends close and our enemies closer. The destruction of Pompeii taught us not to cozy up next to active volcanoes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor taught the Japanese not to awaken sleeping giants, and the list goes on.

Today, history’s core purpose is being challenged.

Should history only be pleasant memories, without any lessons to learn? Significant figures and events are being systematically erased from the American historical landscape.

A recent example is a San Francisco school wanting to remove an 80-year old, 13-panel mural depicting George Washington’s life.

People are demanding the mural's destruction for having George Washington standing over a Native American’s corpse in one panel, and with slaves on his Mount Vernon estate in another.

School district spokeswoman, Laura Dudnick, confirmed that despite two panels standing out as offensive, the board’s decision would apply to all thirteen panels.

On August 13, 2019, the school board voted to paint over, but not destroy the mural. The estimated cost to paint over it has now reached $600,000. As of the time of this writing, there is still debate over whether to paint over/cover the mural or destroy it.

San Fransico School Mural

Art is only the beginning.

San Francisco Board of Education President Matt Haney wants to remove the names of any past slaveholders from school buildings, including George Washington.

He was inspired during a church service when the pastor shared that the author of the national anthem, Francis Scott Key, was a slave owner.

In D.C., students at George Washington University voted to dump the school’s nickname “Colonials” along with their mascot “George” (a man dressed up depicting George Washington).

In an article from The College Fix, students claim:

“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 the world at large. The historically, negatively-charged figure of Colonials has too deep a connection to colonization and glorifies the act of systematic oppression.”

However, a group, Young Americans for Freedom, is fighting to stop the change.

“The university’s chapter stated that ‘a colonial is a unifying symbol of American resistance; it represents the American attitude to stand up to those who seek to defy liberty and justice for all.”

Art and mascots are still not enough. Let’s go after statues next!

Students at Hofstra University created a campaign called Jefferson Has Gotta Go (JGG)! The campus houses a statue of Thomas Jefferson, and there is a growing faction that wants it removed.

Hofstra University Jefferson Statue

Miranda Pino, a former College Democrats executive board member, says,

“JGG isn’t just about a statue. Yes, the removal of the statue is important, but it is about what the statue represents: a legacy of racism and bigotry on college campuses.”

Hofstra's president, Stuart Rabinowitz has refused to remove the statue.

He stated he would, “consider further dialogue and education about our founding fathers, the Atlantic slave trade and Western expansion; to think about what freedom and equality mean at the University.”

While his response is not a popular stance, it brings hope to this situation. Instead of caving into the shallow, ignorant demands of the day, Rabinowitz is choosing to educate the screaming masses.

Thomas Jefferson said,

"Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”

In other words, educate “the common people,” and they will protect liberty.

Understanding the Context

In today’s digital world, it’s easy to Google a topic, read a few headlines, and think you have justification for an opinion. It takes time to research, study, and try to understand the broader context to history's ebbs and flows.

Only after understanding the context can we form an opinion.

These American pioneers were living in a time where slavery was acceptable. The majority of the economy in the colonies was agricultural, and farms and plantations needed manpower. Since the start of time, slave labor was common. It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that the abolitionists began to arise. 

It is crucial to understand this perspective from a historical context. If we choose to ignore historical context, then we miss an entire subtext.

Who knows, future generations may judge us because we drive automobiles using combustion engines. What would your great-grandchildren think about our generation? It would be insane to think of tearing down statues and names of schools dedicated to Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Steve Jobs, and many other great inventors and scientists because of some wacky societal standards of a future civilization.

Humanity is not perfect. We have our flaws. We have all fallen short of the Glory of God. Whether it is George Washington, the great General of the Revolution, Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration, Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipator, or Dr. Martin Luther King, the civil rights leader. They ALL had flaws. Do we discard their bravery and courage because they had flaws? Is that how you desire your descendants to judge us? God help us if you do!

What happens when all the “bad guys” are gone?

What do we have to fall back on and learn?

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and other founders risked their lives to birth the United States because they believed in a country that could be a beacon of hope in a world of darkness.

Founding Fathers Artwork

I am not saying that I condone slavery. The entire western world today has, for the most part, eradicated it. But, to pass judgment on the heroes of the past based on today’s standards is grossly ignorant. Without these pillars of our country and the men and women who risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, we would never have the freedoms we enjoy today.

The reality is that the Declaration of Independence held the core belief that All Men Are Created Equal. Unfortunately, the idea wasn't applied to all aspects of life and allowed human slavery to continue to occur.

Many refer to that as America’s greatest sin.

Almost 100 years later, that debt was paid with the insurmountable bloodshed of the American Civil War. In President Lincoln’s historic Emancipation Proclamation, he made a bold move to eradicate slavery and pursue human equality that was written in the Declaration of Independence. That stance would cost him his life.

So what do we do with that information? 

Do we destroy everything and everyone that had any connection to slavery? Hardly any American would be vindicated if their entire family history was examined. No matter your political ideology, your ancestors, your skin color, or your family origins, man’s inhumanity to man stained society since Cain and Abel. And yes, history tells us that blacks have enslaved other blacks as well. None of us are pure.

Or do we honor the bravery and courage of our founding fathers while also remembering the lessons their lives taught us?

Thomas Jefferson was right.

The only way to protect what we hold dear is to educate. What happens when the screaming factions reject education and microwave an issue to scratch a cultural itch in the name of “justice”?

History gets rewritten and retold in a way that never occurred. The facts and figures of the past are lost in the echoes of whichever voice is screaming the loudest.

What do we do when the truth of the past is no longer self-evident? We must courageously choose to educate.

Tell the story of history.

Allow us to use the sins of the past to safeguard our future. When we erase our history, we are doomed to repeat the past. We must choose to speak up and share what happened.

What if we moved from the sidelines and into the game?

Take action! Write a letter to President Rabinowitz at Hofstra University or the San Francisco Board of Education President Matt Haney. 

My history books tell me that our country's founders stood for liberty and protecting our country was even worth the ultimate price.

Posted in The Liberty Dispatch Blog By Engo Theme


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