Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
Change the names.
Take down the monuments and memorials.
Do it now.
There is plenty to be proud of in the American tradition, and much to be ashamed of. If we want to transform our culture into one of enduring justice then it is time for us to stop elevating what is reprehensible in our collective story and time for us to promote what is truly good and beautiful, the things that unite all of us and speak to our common humanity.
We must stop fetishizing the flag, the national anthem, the military, war.
Bravery is good. It is good that men and women are willing to put their lives on the line and even die for their brothers and sisters in arms, but war itself is reprehensible and always marks a failure of human beings to navigate the maze of their self-interest.
Slave holders, including men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson presented in history as the men that they were: brave, brilliant, despotic.
There was much to be admired in them, but also much to be abhorred and we should not shirk from our responsibility to tell their story in full.
What I was taught to admire in human beings was the quality of perseverance we see in human beings who have to struggle to overcome adversity, what we find in and women who rise to the challenge of their circumstances, when the world is set against them and they triumph as the underdog, while demonstrating grace in victory, humility and love for their fellow human beings.
Our memorials and monuments should be dedicated to men and women who display those characteristics, and it is the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised who possess those qualities in seemingly infinite capacities.
Just look at our “essential workers” our minimum wage-earning heroes and heroines who are keeping the economy running, the hospital cleaning staff, just as much as the doctors and nurses, all risking their lives to fight the pandemic.
We do no need monuments dedicated to men who broke treaties, enslaved their fellow human beings, justified that slavery with ridiculous arguments that were only intended to cover up their otherwise naked greed.
We do not need memorials dedicated to traitors the traitors that took our country to civil war, in order to defend their “right” to buy and sell human beings as property.
We do not need men and women holding office who cannot understand this, they should step down, and not run again.
Let’s begin the transformation of America now.