by Cal Thomas Mon, 8/21/2017 | Tribune Content Agency, LLC
By Cal Thomas
Tribune Content Agency
“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” — Friedrich Hegel
We will learn even less from history if we wipe it clean, as some are
trying to do by removing statues of Confederate leaders whose beliefs
about slavery and race most, including me, find offensive. Conversation
Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been in relative obscurity since the loss of
his MSNBC program, vaulted back into this three-ring political circus
recently when he suggested
to Charlie Rose that federal subsidies for the Thomas Jefferson Memorial should end, because Jefferson owned slaves.
People like Sharpton fan the flames they claim need extinguishing. Some
even start the fires, like those characters from a bad B-movie who
confronted each other in Charlottesville, Virginia, causing death and
destruction, not only to individuals and property, but to the links that
have traditionally held us together as a nation, in spite of our
As usual, the media have contributed to the cultural fracturing by
elevating tiny groups of bigots and leftists to center stage. Drivers
slow down and pay attention to car wrecks and cultural collisions.
Part of this chaos comes from government’s inability, or unwillingness,
to solve, or even address, major challenges. We aren’t winning wars in
Afghanistan, or against ISIS, which has taken credit for the vehicle
attack in Barcelona that killed 14 people and wounded scores more.
We aren’t winning battles over health care, or taxes, or much else in
Washington, where gridlocked rush-hour traffic could serve as a metaphor
for a gridlocked Congress. President Trump promised during the campaign
he would win so much the rest of us would grow tired of winning. We
have yet to reach anything approaching exhaustion.
There is an effort by some on the left, not just to rewrite history,
which would be bad enough, but to expunge it, as happens in totalitarian
states. George Orwell foresaw the danger in such an approach when he
created the “memory hole
” in his classic novel, “1984.”
For those who never read the book, the memory hole was for destroying
all historical documents that could remind, or inform, citizens of the
way things were in a time before they were born. History would then be
rewritten to match the evolving propaganda of the state. An agency with
the euphemistic name “The Ministry of Truth” handled such things.
A similar effort to delete history was the Nazi’s public book burning in Berlin in 1933.
The focus on statues by people whose education level likely wouldn’t
pass the “Jeopardy” test is a distraction designed to keep our minds on
things other than solving real problems and to pit us against each other
for the cultural, political and fundraising benefit and goals of
various groups on the left and right.
I like what former NBA star and current sports commentator Charles Barkley
said about the removal of Confederate statues: “I’m not going to waste
my time worrying about these Confederate statues — that’s wasted energy.
You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna keep doing great things. I’m
gonna keep trying to make a difference — number one, in the black
community because I’m black — but I’m also going to try to do good
things in the world.”
Barkley has the right attitude and if more of us followed his example
we might actually achieve something of value for ourselves and the
nation. Future generations would then find a history worth studying and
(Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org
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